BLOOMINGDALE - Rain showers didn't dampen the spirit of Wayne Elementary supporters during a "Save our School" rally Sunday.
Parents, students and community members traveled to the school to show their support as well as express their anger regarding the closing of the elementary school.
According to Julie Boring and Robbie Frey, event planners, a lot of community members and parents believe they did not have a voice in the decision by the Indian Creek Local Board of Education to close the school.
RALLYING FOR WAYNE — A group of parents, students and community members showed their support for Wayne Elementary School Sunday afternoon during a “Save our School” rally in Bloomingdale. According to event planners, many community members are angered at the school board’s decision to close the building at the end of the school year. -- Jess Looman
"We recently went door to door with petitions and have hundreds of signatures against the closing of the school," Boring said.
The school board unanimously voted in March to close Wayne Elementary at the end of the school year. In a statement released this month, the board believes that "several facets were determined in the decision to close Wayne Elementary. Closing the building will enable the district to maximize facility usage, staffing and taxpayer dollars, thereby implementing the most effective and efficient means of educating our children."
"People are outraged," Boring continued. "They believe that the district needs to make do with what we have before we go asking for more money for new buildings. We just got a new middle school. As much as we want new buildings for our children, we need to find a way to make repairs and keep the buildings we have open. There is a lack of communication between the parents, the community and the school board."
The school district is seeking a 3.5-mill levy on May 7 for construction of school facilities, namely a new high school building, under the Ohio Department of Education's Exceptional Needs Program.
Jackie Carpenter, a member of the school's parent-teacher organization, said closing the building isn't just a Wayne problem.
"Parents at every school in this district should be concerned for their child's future," she began. "We have a renewal levy coming up and once Wayne closes, this community will definitely vote no on a levy. When that doesn't pass, our district will fall below the $20 million dollar floor and therefore taxes will not be lower. We will be taxed anyway without even voting yes.
"Just look at Mingo Junction," she continued. "In 20 years since they closed the high school there, the district has tried to pass 21 different levies. This is what will happen in the Wayne community as well."
Carpenter also mentioned that every building in the district will be at 97 percent capacity should Wayne close.
"If the school grows, you get more money," she noted. "We are hurting ourselves in the long run because the district will have no room to grow, essentially meaning no room to make money."
Ultimately, the Wayne community wants its voice to be heard.
"We are hoping to that showing we can't be steamrolled and that we do have a voice," Boring stated. "Wayne is an experience. It is different; it's a great school and a great community."
"I am sick of the school board saying 'we hear you' but they never answer our questions," Carpenter added. "We want honesty; we want our voices to be heard."
"For months we have been asking the board to go over numbers with us," added Jeff Bonecutter, parent representative. "They won't discuss it. We want to look at the numbers and prove our point. The board has to remember that they work for us. We are the taxpayers. We need a voice.
"We will fight until the end," Frey concluded. "The board is always saying how they won't quit until they get a new high school building. Well, we won't quit until we can keep ours."
Superintendent John Rocchi said today that he believes the board addressed every question from Wayne parents and community members during a two-hour special meeting held in March.
"It is an unfortunate situation when all the districts in the area have been hit with less money, to support our schools, from the state," he noted.