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JSSD sets school closure hearing dates

By PAT CROSSLEY

For The Express

JERSEY SHORE – Jersey Shore Area School District has set hearings next month on whether to close two schools in the district, according to a legal advertisement placed recently in the Sun-Gazette.

The ad stated that the purpose of the hearings is to “hear information, including comments from the public, on the issue/question whether the Avis and/or Salladasburg Elementary Schools and related facilities should be permanently close.”

Dr. Jill Wenrich confirmed that next month’s hearings are being held to explore possible closings for the 2020-2021 school year.

At meetings earlier this month the board had introduced the possibility of holding hearings to explore closing one or both of the schools for the 2019-2020 school year, but the measure was voted down. The district solicitor at that time told the board that in order to consider closing schools for the upcoming school year, the notice for holding hearings would have to be advertised for 15 days and then once the hearings were held, 90 days would elapse after the hearings before a vote could be taken. Once the vote was taken and closings were approved, the board would have to wait another 60 days if the closures resulted in teacher furloughs.

It was noted at the last meeting that by voting against the hearings that the window of opportunity had closed for the board to be able to accomplish all of this before the beginning of the next fiscal year which would mean that they could not seek closure of either school for the upcoming school year. The board also voted this month not to exceed the Act 1 index if they decide to raise taxes for the next fiscal year.

Last year the board furloughed staff and implemented other cutbacks in order to deal with a deficit without closing schools. Residents had been vocal in their opposition to the possibility of school closures.

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