DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Plans are forming to address low enrollment and possible closures of Dayton Public Schools. Wednesday, the newly formed Facilities Task Force met for the first time.
The task force was formed in early January to address the district’s unused and underused facilities. In December, DPS identified nine schools operating under 50 percent capacity. It also owns 28 other properties, including 4 buildings, that are completely vacant.
The main objectives of Wednesday’s meeting were to develop guiding principles and determine research techniques to address dwindling enrollment and maximize resources.
After an informal vote, task force members identified fiscal responsibility, qualified staffing and student achievement as some of their top priorities. Those beat out other items, like re-positioning facilities and leveraging community investments.
Acting superintendent Elizabeth Lolli says the district has been losing between 300 to 500 students annually in recent years. The assistant superintendent said survey results showed parents cited “customer dissatisfaction” as the primary reason they chose to relocate their students, though the survey didn’t elaborate on specific incidents.
Public comments were not allowed during Wednesday’s meeting, but a crowd still gathered to listen to the discussion.
Some parents in the audience said they agree with many of the ideas brainstormed at the meeting, but they were frustrated they didn’t get a seat at the table.
“I do think some good points have been raise, some good things to consider,” said DPS parent Cameron Walker. “But I think some of the issues that weren’t presented today was representative of the fact that there aren’t any parents on the task force at all.”
At the request of some members, city and district representatives agreed to collect more data about demographics and student needs, prior to any decision making.
The task force’s next meeting in early February will involve site visits to several district schools.
It plans to give its recommendations to the DPS school board by April 1st.