Here we go again! The Board of Education wants to close Sabillasville Elementary School, so it can save a few cents. I am trying to wrap my brain around why the board would start this battle again and a few things come to mind:

First, is this a tactic to guilt the County Council into giving them more money? Maybe if they tell them we have to close a school to balance the budget, they’ll find some extra money. The students of Sabillasville are not bargaining chips, and they should not be used as such.

Second, as I was reading the comments to the article about this, someone mentioned that a charter school could possibly use the building. School board member Colleen Cusimano, who suggested the closure, strongly supports charter schools, so perhaps this is a ploy to get a building for a new charter. For someone who wants to look “line by line” at the budget, she jumped awfully quickly to a nonsensical school closure, so it’s plausible.

I also have to wonder if the fact that Sabillasville is no longer affiliated with PTA has something to do with it as well, which may give the false impression that our support is faltering. Starting this school year, SES no longer has a PTA, but instead, started a parent-teacher organization. It is a 501©(3) company, incorporated in Maryland, just like a PTA. We made this choice as, ironically, a cost-saving measure for the school, keeping over $200 per year in our school, working for our kids. It doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but considering their budget, it’s a tremendous savings.

Finally, didn’t the board learn from the last time they suggested this that the cost of closure far exceeds the savings? First, there is the impact study that must be done by an outside source before closure can even be contemplated. Then those kids have to go somewhere. They have to get there on buses. The middle/high school buses cannot get those kids to school and then make the elementary school run to whatever the new schools are to get them there on time. This will require a new fleet of buses and drivers. Not to mention the physical, mental and emotional toll this will take on these young children.

Yeah, I get it. We have low enrollment compared to other schools. The change in military housing rules didn’t help, because a big chunk of our students lived in the Foxville housing circle, which is no longer a lucrative housing option for our military families. 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Sabillasville and throughout those 50 years we’ve always been a small school, but even 50 years ago, officials saw the need and value of a school in our community.

Don’t think for one moment that it went unnoticed that the public budget meeting, and pretty much any other meeting for that matter, was as far away from the Catoctin area as it could possibly be. I’m really getting tired of being picked on. Several board members, including Cusimano, promised to reduce costs and slash the budget as part of their campaign four years ago, yet every year, the costs continue to climb. When is the board going to stop looking for change in the couch cushions and start making meaningful cuts that will actually make a difference in their budget?

Aubrey Harbaugh


(26) comments


Nationwide the average cost for busing a child to school is about $900 per year.

So figure about $90,000 to bus 100 kids. Probably similar to the cost of a principal, whose position could be eliminated by closing a school. So that is probably close to a wash.

I'm dubious about the claim that the costs would outweigh the benefits, let alone "far exceed" as the author claims. But I could be wrong.


Wouldn't there be additional savings such as:
cafeteria, if they have one and any employees
heating and cooling
water supplies
maintenance repairs
outside maintenance
larger class sizes at a central school - cutting down on teachers
I can see how this might be substantial.


I want to correct a weak presumption here about bussing. I was bussed through most of elementary school; all the way across town because of unequal population growth meant that the local schools were full. I do not recall any physical, mental or emotional toll from that process. If they bussed the kids to different schools that would be one thing but if all the kids from Sabillasville go to the same place they will still have a sense of community (and riding the bus can be fun!)


Aubrey, I do sympathize with you and I am sure a rural community is very tight knit. But I really don't think Cusimano wants the Sabillasville Elementary school for a charter school. I don't think so because it would be too much out of the way for parents to bus their children there. Now, your point on whether it would be economical smart to close, is spot on. I don't know what they hope to save, but it would cost a lot to bus children and it could not save a lot of money, if any. I would recommend they leave your school alone.


I think it's a great idea to close SES. Close all of the schools in the north end of the county, they don't seem to be doing much good judging by who they choose to represent them. Before your head explodes and you make nasty comments about my posting I would like to point out that I am being sarcastic, or cynical or one of those fancy words that people in the north part of the county probably don't understand.


This "that people in the north part of the county probably don't understand" should read as this "that some of the people in the north part of the county probably don't understand"


After all it was only 54% to 45% so about half of us do understand you cynicism.


Trying to counteract the generalizations in comments can be exhausting


You had me laughing, but I don't want that to happen to them.


Always nice to realize that people sqwark when their choices come back to haunt them. You voted for those who refused to adequately fund education and then whine when painful options have to be examined.


They made no promises except to cut taxes, that is what they want to do now. Why do the Republicans that voted for them have such a hard time understanding that? Billy Shreve and the one that does not allow us to use his name campaigned for MOE, you voted for it, now you have it. You got what you voted for and this is what happens when you go in and blindly pull the Republican lever. And that could be said for any party, if you don't agree with their campaign promises, but you need to know what you are voting for or against.


Not all of us voted for "he who should not be named". I would be more than happy to see him go.... I also don't think it's a matter of inadequate funding, it's a money management issue. As in, FCPS can't.


"Here we go again! The Board of Education wants to close Sabillasville Elementary School, so it can save a few cents. I am trying to wrap my brain around why the board would start this battle again."

Makes perfect sense to me to close the school. Your other points you made in the article almost seem delusional.


I find it odd that the "foxville circle" development was pointed out as to having a "large chunk" of the students. I live in Foxville Gardens and can't understand how only 29 houses constitute a large chunk of students. We currently have 5 students in SES with 4 more in preschool that will go to kindergarten next year. As for not being financially suitable for military families...... We have a waiting list here for new residence. If it so undesirable, why are they full and have people waiting. Check your facts before you post Aubrey. Bad I information is the root of all controversy. As for the other reasons to not close, I think they need to be checked into as I don't think a 24 million dollar shortfall in the budget can be solved by closing this school. Closing it will not save 24 million dollars and your not going to convince me of that. I do agree that it is being used as a means to get the county to give more money. Cut all those useless people at the school board building. I'm sure you can find many working there making good money that don't benefit our kids at all.


29 houses. Even if there were just one child per house at SES, that's 29 students. That's 25% of the school's population. Even half of that would bring SES up to the "target enrollment number" of 115? It's a big chunk. And yes, in past years, there have been that many children filtering in and out of the school as their parents' stations changed. Just look at the enrollment data provided by FCPS. The way it was explained to the school, by the military people who used to live there, was that housing expense is equivalent, if not cheaper, to live elsewhere in the community, rather than the military housing, thanks to the changes in military housing money allocations. That's why I said it wasn't lucrative. I'm glad you are using the houses, that they aren't going to ruin, but the fact is, enrollment has suffered. I was not saying it was a crappy place to live or anything - I've had many friends live there over the years, and it's a great community.


RESIDENTS OF NORTH COUNTY: You can’t keep voting for people like Kirby Delauter (who voted year after year not to increase school funding), Larry Hogan who just cut educational budgets across the state and republicans like Cusimano who continues to promise to “find the fat” in the school system. She has to look somewhere but nobody wants to cut anything when it comes his or her kids or their school. How does a school system keep doing more with less without making cuts to something?

You voted for this group…now you get what you voted for.


"You voted for this group…now you get what you voted for. "

Problem is that those of us who DID NOT vote for this group get what they voted for too. [sad]


Yes, that area was heavy Republican and also voted mostly against the Teachers Union recommendation. They also voted heavy for Billy and the one whose name we cannot mention.


Shreve got just under 25% of the vote. No way to really know from where in the county.

Delauter got 54% - that's not voting "heavy" for him.

From what I have observed over the years Frederick is traditionally Republican. That seems to be swinging the other way as new people move in to the county.

Dwasserba is correct in saying "Trying to counteract the generalizations in comments can be exhausting"


If you watched what precints were reporting and looked at the vote totals, election night, there would be little doubt in your mind about how the northern part of the County voted.


[sad] Sad, but true![thumbup]


From where I live on Paine's Hill, I find it much more pleasurable to make my sundry shopping runs up Route 550 through Sabillasville to Waynesboro, much less traffic stress and beautiful countryside views. As I pass by I always look at Sabillasville Elementary School and often think to myself "what a lucky community to have such a school, I bet there's a lot of quality educating taking place in that building." I am sure if one would add up all the property/educational taxes the families of those who attend SES they would find that they contribute more than enough to maintain their school.


Are you allocating all of their taxes to that one school or are you saving some for stuff like the sheriff's department, the road crews, and the middle and high schools down in the lowlands.


Just the percentage of your property taxes dedicated to educatiuon. I believe it is about 50% of your total RE tax bill.


I wouldn't be surprised if some of the families who have a child in SES also have one in middle or high school so I think you might be over-allocating.


You might be right on the taxes, but they look at the entire system, not one school, when they do the budget, but they certainly do look at one school, when they consider closing it. How they determined costs and savings, I do not know.

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