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Tie vote to close JS schools stalls decision

By PAT CROSSLEY

For The Express

JERSEY SHORE — The Jersey Shore Area School Board ended its Monday meeting with a tied vote on a motion to close Avis and Salladasburg elementary schools and reconfigure the grades. The vote was 4-4.

On the agenda were six options, but only one made it to the floor, only to be voted down.

Under the options under discussion, both schools would be closed and a reconfiguration of all other buildings in the district were proposed. If it had been adopted, the plan would have been in place for the 2020-21 school year.

Voting yes were: John Pecchia, Michelle Stemler, Harry Brungard and Craig Allen. Voting no were: Mary Thomas, Christopher Fravel, Merrill Sweitzer and Karen Stover.

One objection raised by some members of the board and district residents at the meeting was that four members of the board are being replaced either through resignation or the recent election. The argument was that the new members should be allowed to decide the issue.

Board members also cited not having enough information about the fiscal savings resulting from the closures as a reason to vote against the measure.

A small crowd at the meeting voiced its displeasure that the motion was made. Two people in the public were escorted out by an officer for being “disorderly.”

Prior to the vote on school closures, the board approved hiring board member Kelley Wasson as a special education paraprofessional, which resulted in her resignation from the board. Due to the board being down one member because of Wasson’s hiring, the vote resulted in a tie.

While the board has until next year to make a decision, the topic has been slated for a vote during at least two prior meetings this year only to continually be postponed.

The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 25 at the district board room, 1785 A&P Drive.

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