Updated: Feb 25
On Thursday, February 6th, the Marlington Board of Education held their bi-monthly meeting in the Marlington Middle School cafeteria. Perhaps the most consequential meeting of the year, the board voted 3-2 in favor of reopening Marlboro Elementary.
Many teachers and community members were in attendance to witness what fate was decided for the district. After hearing the board’s controversial decision, the crowd loudly voiced their displeasure. Many teachers walked out after the vote, one proclaiming “thanks for screwing our schools!”.
Prior to the vote, Superintendent Knoll presented a survey to the board members for elementary parents and teachers that showed an overwhelming majority of positive responses from those directly affected by the closing of Marlboro Elementary.
Treasurer Brugger also added that when Marlboro was closed, it saved the district over $400,000 per year, and that if it is to be reopened, it will put the district into “fiscal caution” along with a minimum $1.6 million deficit by the year 2023. The cost is likely to increase because of added staff and major renovations needed in the school.
This deficit will most likely require a levy, something Board President Gabric maintains will not be an issue because of the voters’ eagerness to retain Marlboro as an elementary school.
Adding to the argument against reopening Marlboro, Mr. Knoll revealed that he recently received an email regarding the Nexus pipeline, stating that the amount the district will be awarded will once again be decreased, although it is not yet definite by how much.
Early on in the meeting, Mr. Knoll exhibited enrollment statistics from the past 20 years to the board members and audience. The numbers clearly showed that enrollment has been in a consistent decline, with the district losing 1,186 resident students over the past two decades.
Several people opposed to the reopening of Marlboro Elementary proposed the idea of turning it into a career tech school instead. This would only cost the district money to employ an instructor, as the provided HVAC course would repair the school as a part of their education.
Mr. Knoll explained that there are 146 Stark County job openings in the HVAC field and that Marlington already receives state grants for vocational programs.
The majority of the board repeatedly claimed that reopening Marlboro will be to the benefit of student education, prompting an intense response from Board Member Mason declaring that it is an “insult to our teachers” by claiming that their provided education is “subpar”. This drew a standing ovation from many in the audience, most being the very teachers that were being insulted. Dr. Mason later apologized for his reaction, while Hagan agreed that they all were "passionate" about their views.
Article written by Elizabeth Narris and Savanah Angel