AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

April 2, 2013

Board battles rumor mill

No decision on Har-Mer closing

By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
Allied News

HARRISVILLE — A discussion about the future of Har-Mer Elementary School was over in a matter of minutes at Monday's Slippery Rock school board meeting, but the message was clear.

"The rumors need to stop," board member David Hutner said of people spreading gossip that the school is definitely closing.

No one spoke during public comment but several adults in attendance held small, hand-lettered signs that read "Keep Har-Mer Open."

Hutner and other board members have not made up their minds on whether to close the Harrisville building, especially since they can't vote until the beginning of May at the earliest, but the "rumor mill" suggests otherwise.

"There seems to be some distrust issue," Hutner said, adding there's also miscommunication on social networking websites.

Hutner, speaking for himself, said he's still researching the issues surrounding the decision like how class sizes will be affected if Har-Mer students have to be transferred to Area Elementary in Slippery Rock and Moraine Elementary in Prospect.

"I don't agree with class size numbers," Ken Speer, board member and chair of the Har-Mer committee, said of Hutner's data that shows only the fifth grade classes will increase if Har-Mer closes.

Speer foresees more class sizes increasing than decreasing in reference to projected enrollment figures Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Nogay presented at the Feb. 4 public hearing about Har-Mer, which houses kindergarten through fifth grade and has had fewer students in recent years.

The Rev. Michael Scheer, board president, asked Nogay to bring the most recent enrollment data to the next board meeting, March 25.

"It should be hashed out," he said.

Board member Polly Shaw also addressed rumors, saying she's heard that some teachers are telling their students Har-Mer will close.

"I have to reiterate - we have not made a decision," she said.

Maggie Stoughton, parent of a Har-Mer kindergartner who spoke at the public hearing against closing the school and was one of the adults holding a sign during Monday's meeting, spoke up and said people are nervous.

She was cut off by Scheer since time for public comment had passed, with Hutner saying he understands people are nervous about what could happen, but there haven't been secret meetings where board members have already made a decision.

The board has to wait until 90 days after the public hearing to vote and if they decide to close Har-Mer, that will take effect the next school year, which starts July 1.

A transition committee made up of parents, administrators, teachers and board members is in the works.

Published March 13, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.