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Board votes to close Secrest Elementary



Published: Wed, April 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The closing will save $1.2 million, the treasurer said.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Despite protests from several parents and threats of a recall petition for school board members, the board voted 3-2 to close Secrest Elementary School.

The school will close at the end of this school year, board members said.

"If the board is voting to close this school and change the face of my neighborhood, then I am going to change the face of this board," Kevin Harris, a parent of a first-grade pupil, said during Tuesday's meeting. "I am calling the state tomorrow and find out what has to be done to do a recall petition and get these board members removed."

Phillip D. Butto IV, school treasurer, said the district had no choice but to close the school. He explained the district is faced with a large debt and declining enrollment.

"Closing Secrest will save the district $1.2 million over a two-year period," Butto said.

The pupils from Secrest will be sent to Emerson, McGuffey, Alden and Horace Mann elementary schools.

"It seems to me that the board is trying to put a dollar amount on my children," said parent Markita Parks. "I have a son that was scared to death of school. He loves it there and is doing great."

Parents want levy

Parks noted she moved to that neighborhood of Warren so her four children could attend Secrest. She and other parents urged the board to put a levy on the ballot and let the voters decide whether they want to pay to keep the school open.

Board presidents Linda Metzendorf said she doesn't believe a levy would pass.

"We can't go back and ask for any more money," Metzendorf said. "It's tough to pass levies."

School board members Lynn Gibson and Edward Bolino concurred, saying people in the city cannot afford any more taxes.

"I know this decision hurts; it hurts me," Bolino said. "I haven't slept, but I know we can get through this."

Board members Bob Faulkner and Nedra Bowen, who voted against the closing, said they wished the board could come up with an alternative decision.

"As a former teacher, I know how tough it is on students when a school closes, and I remember how the kids felt when one of our other schools closed," Bowen said. "I am voting with the children."




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