District outlines moving early learning students to WAEC

A motion to close South Street Early Learning Center after this academic year will appear before the Warren County School District board of directors at their March 11 meeting.

The Physical Plant and Facilities Committee took public comment and heard from the building administrators at South Street and Warren Area Elementary Center, where students would be sent, before moving the issue to the full board.

The first step in the school closure process is a public hearing where administration makes its case for closure. That meeting occurred last June at the Struthers Library Theatre in downtown Warren. Administration explained at that session that Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment projections indicate that the merger will be able to occur.

While the closure of South Street was originally projected for 2014-2015 at the closure hearing, Acting Superintendent Amy Stewart said closing the building a year early is in line with the district’s master facilities plan.

“This wasn’t arbitrary,” she said on Monday. “This was in the scope of the plan. This is early (but we) stayed within the scope of what was laid out before us.”

“We’re not trying to shove this down anyone’s throat,” Donna Zariczny, board vice president, said.

With the closure hearing in the rear-view window, a vote can now legally be held.

Stewart explained that the district is considering “what mandates we have to follow” through the closure process.

One is employee notification.

“In the event a school board shall determine prior to the beginning of the next school term to close any school or department, sixty (60) days notice, in writing, prior to the closing of any school or department, shall be given to all temporary and professional employees,” according to the PDE.

Stewart said that PDE must also be notified of the closure prior to the closure and after the employees’ 60-day notices have been sent.

At the closure hearing, projected savings from the closure were estimated at over $750,000. Current projections reduce the savings to approximately $500,000. Stewart explained that the discrepancy arises because the district realized some of that savings in staffing as a result of budget cuts heading into the current academic year.