January 24, 2019
Dear West Geauga Resident:
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.
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
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.