The Ellwood City School District officially closed Walnut Ridge Elementary School on Thursday with a 5-0 vote during the school board meeting. This is step one of the final plan to reduce the number of elementary schools in the district to two.
The school board also agreed to the reconfiguring of the three remaining elementary schools: North Side Primary – Kindergarten through grade 2, Perry Lower Intermediate – grades 3 and 4, and Hartman Intermediate – grades 5 and 6.
Closing of Walnut Ridge was necessary because the district will be losing $1.65 million in state funding. Under PA Governor Tom Corbett’s budget, the district could face a deficit of approximately $2.3 million.
Due to such funding cuts, the school district was forced to close one of the elementary schools, and because Walnut Ridge had the least number of students, it was the odd school out. Walnut Ridge had 138 students last year, compared to 275 at Perry, 284 at Hartman, and 311 at North Side.
The school board voted unanimously in April to shut down Walnut Ridge and incorporate a three-school system.
With the public hearing for the school closure almost exactly three months ago (April 28), the school board could officially close the doors for good on Thursday and reconfigure their other schools.
The final phase of the readjustment of the elementary schools will not take place for several years, but will consist of the closing of the district’s oldest school – Perry Elementary. When Perry closes, the district will use their remaining two, similar to other districts in the state.