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District Consolidation

District Consolidation Communication

This section will be used to communication information about district consolidation. Please check it in the future for further updates. Thank you for your interest and support.

Letter to Residents Regarding District Consolidation

 

January 24, 2019

Dear West Geauga Resident:

West Geauga/Newbury Consolidation Discussions

In recent months, the Geauga Educational Service Center has facilitated discussions of consolidation of the Newbury Local School District, via Territory Transfer, with either the Berkshire Local School District or the West Geauga Local School District for the 2020-2021 school year. These discussions were but the latest iteration of conversations that have been ongoing for decades. On Monday, January 14, 2019, a majority of the members of the Newbury School Board approved a resolution in support of a Territory Transfer to West Geauga Schools, thus ending months of speculation as to the Newbury Board’s wishes in that regard.

The primary motivation behind such a consolidation is the desire to maintain excellent educational opportunities for students in both districts despite declining enrollment. Newbury currently has less than 350 students in grades K-12 and West Geauga is home to approximately 1900.

When districts experience such shrinking student enrollment, they face difficult choices. They can cut programs and extracurricular activities or they can increase per pupil costs. The Territory Transfer of Newbury to West Geauga would increase student enrollment to approximately 2200 students. That number is significantly less than West Geauga’s historic high of over 4,000 students in the late 1970s. However, it is large enough to assure the future of rigorous academic offerings, competitive sports teams, and music and drama opportunities.

Board Deliberation

The West G Board agreed to pursue consolidation after thoughtful analysis of enrollment trends, demographic variables, community input, school levy voting histories, academic data, and financial analyses. It carefully weighed the pros and cons and determined that the potential benefits warrant probable pursuit of the Territory Transfer option.

Likewise, the Newbury Board members carefully reviewed teacher/student ratios, course offerings, student achievement, special education ideologies, finances, tax implications, and community input prior to the passage of the January 14 resolution. Theirs was a thoughtful and emotionally-difficult decision.

What’s Next?

Currently, the staff and students at West Geauga are working to devise ways to welcome the Newbury students and to ease the anxieties that naturally accompany change. Many good activities are being planned. The West Geauga administration is working with Newbury administrators to facilitate the process.

The next step with regard to board action would be for the West Geauga Board of Education to vote on the proposed Territory Transfer. Such action would most likely occur in June 2019. The WG Board has made such action contingent upon certain conditions which include appropriate Newbury staffing level adjustments and cash transfer requirements.

In the interim, we will be providing information and soliciting input from residents, school support organizations, students, and staff related to the particulars and timing of the proposed consolidation through multiple communication venues. We realize that this change is a major one and we will do all in our power to assure its success and to make it as easy as possible for the students of Newbury to join the West Geauga family in 2020-2021.

Sincerely,

 
 

Richard A. Markwardt, Ph.D.                                         Ben Kotowski

Superintendent of Schools                                            President, West Geauga Board of Education

 

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