The Frederick County Board of Education revoked its decision to close Sabillasville Elementary School at the end of this school year during a special meeting held Friday afternoon.
The vote was unanimous and board members did not provide any comments during the meeting which was held virtually.
The board originally voted to close the school last November due to dwindling enrollment and high costs associated with the continued operation of the building. Since the board began discussing the future of Sabillasville Elementary in early 2020, the small, but vocal, community has fought to keep the school open.
After the board’s decision last year, the community complained that the process of closing the school was handled poorly, and there has been debate over whether Frederick County Public Schools followed protocol and allotted specific time for a public hearing on the issue last year as per Board Policy 200.
Board President Jay Mason previously told the News-Post that Friday’s special meeting was held after the board was made aware of these specific concerns related to a lack of a public hearing.
“In discussing this as a Board, we felt it was important that the [Sabillasville] community know that the board took this concern seriously. The [special] meeting has been scheduled for the purpose of considering the adoption of a board resolution to address this matter,” he said.
Alisha Yocum, president of Sabillasville Elementary’s Parent Teacher Organization, said in an email she was happy to see the board acknowledge that procedures were not followed prior to the original vote to close the school.
Now that the closure decision has been rescinded, two public meetings will be held regarding the closure of the school.
A public hearing will be held in-person by FCPS on April 14 at 6 p.m. which will allow community members to share their thoughts on the issue. A second meeting will be held on April 21 at 3 p.m. where the board will discuss the matter and will make a final decision.
Even though the school’s closure is no longer in effect, other processes are still ongoing such as a charter application that was submitted by the school’s community in January in a last-ditch effort to save the school and prevent local students from having to travel to Thurmont for their education.
The charter application proposes that the school be turned into a public charter school that would still fall under the umbrella of FCPS but would deliver a classical education — similar to the Frederick County Classical Charter School — but with a focus on environmental and agriculture studies.
There is also an ongoing legal process related to an appeal that community members filed following the board’s original decision in November.
Yocum said a settlement meeting is scheduled for April 6 and that the community is looking forward to further discussions with FCPS.
Regardless of the board’s reversal on Friday, Yocum said the plan is to still move forward with the development of the charter school.
“We still feel strongly that the charter school is a viable option and plan on moving ahead with that initiative. We hope we can persuade the Board of Education to ensure continuity of education during that transition time,” Yocum said.