NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WYTV) – Newton Falls School District could be making big changes starting in August. It’s planning on closing the elementary school and shifting students throughout the rest of its buildings.
“We’re estimating between $350,000 and $450,000 is what we’ll save in the cuts and the closing of the elementary,” Superintendent Paul Woodard said.
The district has been making cuts through attrition. It cut one administrative position so far this year and a principal is already going between two buildings.
So Newton Falls school leaders submitted a plan to the state for handling the deficit. The strategy calls for moving sixth grade to the junior high wing of the junior-senior high school, having grades K-5 in the middle school and closing the elementary school.
“Gives you a chance for your elementary teachers to be able to talk more and share ideas when it comes to curriculum, and what’s working and what’s not working,” Woodard said. “I think there’s some positives to it, actually.”
Newton Falls had 476 third through sixth-grade students in 2004. This year, it has 50 fewer students in grades K-5.
“When you’ve lost 350 students over the last seven years, it’s hard to make up that deficit and that’s what we’re facing,” Woodard said.
He believes there’s a lack of jobs in the Newton Falls area and realizes that students have choices, but the enrollment drain is really costing the district money to operate.
“We’re between 90 and 100 kids graduating, and we only have 70 to 72 coming in right now,” Woodard said.
A shrinking district means less state money. The state provides $6,000 per student.
Newton Falls celebrated passing a levy in 2015 — its first in 24 years. But now, it’s just a few steps away from serious trouble if the finances continue to slip.
“We’re struggling. We’re struggling to keep the doors open, that’s what this is about to me,” Woodard said.
“It’s about keeping the doors of Newton Falls Schools open for this community.”
The district will explain these potential changes at a community meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in the high school auditorium.