A school district merger discussion has begun, and residents of Exeter Township are hesitant to get on board. Residents from both Exeter and Antietam townships voiced their opinions at the Antietam-Exeter merger study results forum held by the Exeter School Board on April 30 at the Reiffton School,4355 Dunham Dr., Reading.
Kerry Moyer, of the Civic Research Alliance, presented the results of sharing services between the schools, adopting a regional school model or combining to one district to the public and board. Antietam athletes already play on Exeter sports teams.
While the forum was specifically to hear the results of the survey, the school board invited members of the public to not only ask questions, but give their feedback on the merger possibility. Board President Robert H. Quinter stressed that the board has not yet made any decisions.
Lifelong residents of Exeter, families who moved to Exeter from Antietam, high school students, parents and concerned citizens spoke to both sides of the issue.
Overall, most of the comments were filled with concern, as residents wondered how exactly Exeter would benefit from a full or partial merger. Many stated that positives of a merger seem to only benefit the district of Antietam.
Antietam is a smaller district that Exeter, with 1,046 students, while Exeter has 4,322 students enrolled. Antietam has 91 classroom teachers and three buildings, while Exeter has 289 teachers and seven buildings.
Currently, Antietam has a millage rate of 33.75 mills, while Exeter has a rate of 30.10. If a merger would take place, the new district would adopt Exeter’s millage.
Moyer explained that while Antietam is a smaller district, both Antietam and Exeter have something to bring to the table. For example, both schools have courses not offered by the other district. Many residents voiced concern about Antietam’s lower results on the PSSAs, even though Moyer explained that the two districts have very close parallels overall.
Hunter Ahrens, a junior at Exeter, had an inspiring outlook on the merger saying, “We have a moral obligation to help people and take on challenges that need to be fixed...by breaking new ground on school policies, by accepting those who need help, that just puts us as the better person.”
Updates about the merger discussion will be voiced at the Exeter School Board meetings.