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?