Poland superintendent fields questions about possible school closures

POLAND, Ohio (WYTV) – About 300 people showed up at a meeting in Poland Monday night to discuss the future of the schools. It was a frank discussion of the hard decisions the Poland School Board will have to make as the district faces declining enrollment and less money.

First News Anchor Stan Boney moderated the forum, which was held in the high school auditorium.

One of the issues discussed was open enrollment for the Poland Schools — a possibility that most people at the meeting were opposed to.

“Whether you have open enrollment or not, you’re facing declining enrollment,” Superintendent Dave Janofa said.

He repeatedly stressed Poland’s enrollment issues. This year, Poland will graduate around 200 students, while its kindergarten has slightly over 100.

Also discussed were the 15 recommendations from the state auditor — the most drastic of which would be closing two elementary schools. If that happens, by 2022, the district’s $4.8 million deficit would become a $1.7 million surplus.

“It seems like being new to the area that no one wants open enrollment, which I think is a definite no for everybody,” said one man in the audience. “No one wants to close schools, no one wants to lay off teachers, but it strikes me that we’re at the point that we have to.”

One woman suggested getting new school board members, saying “it’s time to drain the swamp.”

“We have a board of education that’s made very, very difficult decisions,” Janofa said.

Another woman questioned what would happen to the buildings once they’re closed. She didn’t want them torn down.

Someone else asked about building new.

“Have you done any studies looking at possibly building a new school and either renting out or tearing down all of the other ones?”

Janofa said that was the plan a couple of years ago, but the levy to get a new campus built was soundly defeated.

He said he does not favor closing both elementary schools now. However, he did say closing Dobbins next year and maybe Union a couple of years later is a possibility.

No one from the school board talked — Janofa answered all the questions. He hopes to have a final plan that the school board can vote on within the next month.