DPS holds public meeting for parents about ‘right-sizing’ district

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Low enrollment at nine DPS schools could force them to close later this year. Thursday, parents at one of the those schools got to weigh-in on the administration’s plans to ‘right-size’ the district.

More than 2 dozen parents came together at Westwood Elementary to share concerns, ask questions and get answers from the district about the future of their child’s school. It’s the first of several meetings planned with parents so they can have their voices heard.

Parents raised concern Thursday night at Westwood Elementary. They’re worried of the impact a school closing could have on their child.

“My biggest concern is that the school will close,” parent Titus Thompson said. “I would have to relocate to somewhere else.”

It’s common concern among many of parents who came to Thursday night’s meeting, where district facilitators took questions and wrote down what parents value most in their child’s school.

“Class capacities. I do have a concern with that,” parent Kenya Washington said. “I’m hoping the classrooms are going to be smaller.”

Kenya Washington has a 6th grader at Westwood Elementary which is one of these 9 DPS’ schools with enrollment below 50 percent as of December 2017, but since then the school has seen a slight bump in students, going from 48 percent full in December to 53 percent capacity in February.

“Westwood’s demographics look better today than some other schools,” DPS Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said. “Can I say whether or not Westwood will close definitively, no,  because the Board of Education hasn’t acted on any recommendation.”

As it sits now, Westwood Elementary could be coming closer to staying open, which is partly because of low repair costs.

Currently, DPS estimates the school needs about $75,000 worth of maintenance and repairs. That’s compared to the estimated $1.5 million in repairs needed at some of the other 9 schools with low enrollment.

“I can go home with a sigh of relief,” Thompson said. “Knowing that our school probably won’t be closing.”

“It’s about more than just numbers,” Acting Superintendent Lolli said. “It’s about more than just finances. It’s about making sure that every student in this district has an equal opportunity.”

As for the other 8 schools on the low enrollment list, parents at each of those schools will get the same opportunity that Westwood parents got Thursday night to meet with district officials. Dates and times have not yet been set.

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