Updated: Daniel Boone School Board plans vote that keeps Birdsboro Elementary School open

Students walk into Birdsboro Elementary School during Walk to School Day in October 2013. A recent realignment could keep the elementary school open. (File photo by Emily Thiel)

UNION TWP. — Daniel Boone Area School Board President Richard Martino announced at the March 18 Parent-Teacher Council meeting that a three-building realignment will be introduced Monday, saving the Birdsboro Elementary School from a proposed closure.

Martino said the board will vote first on a motion to purchase new boilers for the Birdsboro building at a total cost of $388,000.

He said there is a possibility of a 50-percent Community Development Block Grant (for a possible cogeneration system), as well as the use of $400,000 to $800,000 of cash reserves.

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The school district is currently renting a boiler for $5,500 a month, a temporary expense that is projected to end in April.

If the motion to purchase the boilers is approved at the 6 p.m. meeting, the board will not hold its previously scheduled 7:30 p.m. public hearing regarding closing Birdsboro Elementary School, which could be effective with a vote on June 23.

Faced with the possibility that Birdsboro Elementary School will remain open, Martino said Assistant Superintendent Marybeth Torchia has developed a three-building realignment that was conceived for cost savings and expanded a two-building realignment that would have been necessary under the Birdsboro closing proposal.

The plan would have all kindergarten and first grade students attending Monocacy Elementary Center, all second and third graders attending Birdsboro Elementary School, and all fourth- and fifth-graders attending Amity Elementary Center.

Interim Business Manager Kim Seldomridge introduced at the board’s Feb. 27 budget meeting a two-school realignment if Birdsboro Elementary School was closed.

He recommended Monocacy Elementary Center as a primary center with all the district’s kindergarten through second grade students, and that Amity Elementary Center would be changed back to an intermediate school.

“Legally, we can’t look at (Birdsboro Elementary School) cost savings until June,” Martino said at a Feb. 27 budget meeting, adding, “I think we ought to focus on (Birdsboro Elementary Center) as it is.”

Seldomridge said closing Birdsboro Elementary School would yield annual cost savings of $600,000.

Martino read at the March 10 Committee-of-the-Whole meeting, a prepared statement that Birdsboro Elementary School’s closure should be based upon the district’s ability to deliver education.

Martino said Birdsboro Elementary School’s recent student test scores of 64.3 were 20 points less than Amity and Monocacy elementary centers.

“The fact that we have space in two existing buildings means we have too many buildings,” said Martino. “Realignment produces annual savings of more than $600,000. State Sen. Judy Schwank contacted me today to set up a meeting with the Department of Community and Economic Development to look for grant opportunities.”

Martino said the three-building realignment would allow all students to receive an education at three different buildings, and from three different teams of teachers and administrators before they advance to the Daniel Boone Middle School.

An earlier version of this story contained inaccurate information regarding the cost of the boilers and the rationale for realigning schools. Corrected information was provided by Daniel Boone assistant superintendent Marybeth Torchia.