By: Avalynne Russell
As many people in the community have heard, there has been major consideration and decisions being made about reconfiguring the Warren County School District (WCSD). Over the last couple of years, it has been brought to the attention of many school officials that there is a major decrease in student enrollment and funds within WCSD. To combat these two problems, the school board has been coming up with ideas regarding how to fix it, resulting in several possibilities.
As of the May publication date of this article, there are six options being considered. These options include making the current attendance areas smaller, combining grades nine to 12 of Sheffield Area Middle High School (SAMHS) with Warren Area High School (WAHS), Youngsville Middle High School (YMHS) becoming a kindergarten through grade 12 school, grades nine through 12 from Eisenhower Middle High School (EMHS) going to YMHS or WAHS, students from YMHS in grades nine through 12 going to EMHS or WAHS, or making no changes, which could possibly jeopardize the future of WCSD.
Due to the fact that this is such a big decision, the district is working with a program called Strategy Solutions to make the best selection possible. While this program does not make any resolutions about what will or should happen, they gather information and inform the school board of their findings. This is how the board has come up with most, if not all, of these options. For example, a Strategy Solutions representative recently had a meeting with the Eisenhower Student Council and National Honor Society students. The representative asked students six questions about the current configuration’s productivity, and what option the students feel would be the best. Multiple students shared that the best option would be to shrink the attendance area of WAHS to split the student body more evenly, and to disperse funding more evenly to all the schools. Others suggested that the board should combine another school with Eisenhower. Everyone had their own opinion, but one thing that everyone had in common was to keep EMHS and WAHS as schools in the county. Although any of these options could theoretically work, a major question comes to mind. Many students pointed out that EMHS does not really appear to have much extra space to add more students from other schools. Those students were left wondering how such a consolidation would look if that were to occur.
In addition, students also showed concern for what a change as big as combining schools could mean for the communities within each school, and the communication and connection between students and teachers due to the sheer size of the potential new student body. Another student also had worries about what this would do to the healthy athletic competition that there is within the schools, while other students said that they were worried about losing some of their teachers to other schools in the district. With there being a great number of concerns, questions, and suggestions made at the meeting, the Strategy Solutions representative assured the students that all of the comments made would be shown to the school board to give them other things to think about, and to hopefully address some of these concerns.
This is not the first time that WCSD has seen reconfiguration and possible school closure. According to the district website, in 1966, when WCSD was created, it had 32 schools in the district, and, within the first 17 years of the district’s existence, there was a closure of eight schools. This caused there to be adjustments to the school attendance areas as well. According to a FAQ document also on the WCSD website, this decision was followed up by many school closures and attendance area revisions from 1988 to 2015. There were roughly 17 more school closures mentioned in the document. Additionally, there is an average projected decrease in student enrollment over the next three school years, and there has been fewer actual enrollments than projected numbers over the last five years. To put this into perspective, compared to the school year of 1979 to 1980, SAMHS has lost 68% of its student population, EMHS has lost 54%, YMHS has lost 60%, and WAHS has lost 52% of its student population. Each school has lost over 50% of its student population. While it is unclear what the final reconfiguration will look like, the data appears to support the idea that some form of reconfiguring will be necessary in the future.
It has also been brought to the attention of school officials that no matter what happens, there will be some friction between students, parents and even staff. All of the students at the meeting are hoping for the board to make a decision that causes the least amount of friction, but also the greatest amount of benefit. As of right now, the decision will be made after this school year, before the next school year starts. Stay tuned on the district website and social media for more updates as the summer progresses.
The Squire hopes that everyone has an amazing last few weeks of school, a great summer, and that the best choice possible is made for our district. Be sure to check out the other articles in this edition of The Squire to learn about all things prom and spring related.