MARLBORO TWP. — Marlington Local is making a major adjustment to the school system as it moves from three to two elementary schools for the start of the 2019-20 academic year.
Marlboro Elementary will cease classes and its students will be dispersed between Lexington and Washington elementary schools.
“It is a done deal,” said Mark Ryan, president of the Board of Education. “We are closing that as an elementary school next year.”
The imminent closure of Marlboro Elementary has been known for months. What has changed is district leadership’s decision to keep operating kindergarten through fifth grade at the other two elementary schools.
That abandons an earlier plan to house kindergarten through second grade in Lexington Elementary and third through fifth grades in Washington Elementary. It’s a critical decision in a sprawling school district in northeastern Stark County that takes in three townships along with a portion of western Alliance.
“We are going K (kindergarten) through five (5th grade) in both buildings,” Ryan said. “That was based on what we heard from parents in the district. They were concerned about the schedule getting across the district. It is 92 square miles. It was a lot of travel time for parents to get their kids.”
Marlboro Elementary School, in the 8100 block of Edison Street NE, is in the western edge of the Marlington Local School District. Not all Board of Education members agree with the plan to close it. Carolyn Gabric dissented from other board members.
“The community wants to keep it open,” Gabric said. “I want to represent the community. There is no data to support closing Marlboro will be better educationally.”
Attempts to contact Superintendent Joseph Knoll were not successful.
Under the new plan, Beeson Street NE is the dividing line to determine which students attend Lexington or Washington schools. Those living south of Beeson Street NE will be assigned to Washington Elementary; those north of the street will attend Lexington Elementary.
“That was based on school bus routes, population and the size of the Washington and Lexington buildings,” Ryan said. “Lexington has more classrooms.”
A part of the background in Marlington Local’s plan to eliminate Marlboro Elementary is the past failures of a majority of school district voters to approve bond issues that were to generate local money for school construction.
The most recent attempt was a $17.16 million bond issue voters rejected on Nov. 6. It would have helped fund construction of a new elementary school to accommodate the entire district. The local funds were to be combined with money from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to construct the new facility adjacent to the school system middle school in the 10300 block of Moulin Avenue NE.
Many resisted the plan to close the current elementary schools and consolidate into a single building. A grass roots organization called Citizens for Responsibility formed to campaign against the proposed bond issue.
Gabric said some residents prefer to have the three old elementary schools upgraded.
“Several community members asked the board to put a levy on the ballot to repair the three buildings,” she said. “They said they are not opposed to having their taxes increased.”
However, Ryan said Marlington Local officials are maintaining plans to construct a new elementary school for the entire district. Rather than rely on property tax revenue from residents, Marlington Local will use tax payments from the Nexus Gas Transmission pipeline. The pipeline is a 256-mile main carrying natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shales to customers in Ohio, Michigan and Canada.
“We are actually pursuing a new building,” Ryan said. “We are going to use Lexus pipeline money. We get tax revenue from that pipeline that comes through the district. That tax revenue starts coming into our coffers next March. The first five years it is estimated at $15 million.”
For the time being, the future of the Marlboro Elementary building has yet to be decided.
“We don’t know what we are going to do with it yet,” Ryan said. “We can keep it for another use, we can sell it, we can demolish it.”
Reach Malcolm at 330-580-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @mhallREP