Poland schools to close Dobbins at school year’s end


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

POLAND

Dobbins Elementary will close at the end of the school year, the school district announced.

Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, third and fourth grade will move to McKinley Elementary. Fifth grade also will be at McKinley and sixth through eighth grade will be at the middle school.

Thursday’s announcement follows the recent release of a performance audit conducted by the state auditor’s office which, among other steps, recommended the district close Dobbins to help stave off a projected deficit.

Administrators and staff are working on bell and classroom schedules, with plans to have different arrival and dismissal times for the two schools.

A staffing analysis also will be conducted.

Superintendent David Janofa said the district will not be able to reduce staff through attrition. It has not been determined what positions will be eliminated.

He said Dobbins Principal Michael Daley will go back to his previous job as high-school assistant principal.

That position currently is filled by someone with a one-year contract who stepped in to fill an unexpected vacancy.

In response to concerns that have come up about the condition of McKinley, Janofa has assured community members the building is safe.

“McKinley is no different than the other buildings. Significant resources have been used for all our buildings for repairs,” he said.

Janofa said the selection of Dobbins for closure came down to building size and grade distributions.

The audit’s recommendation to close buildings was based on the district’s declining enrollment and low occupancy rates in school buildings.

The district’s three elementary schools have a combined utilization rate of 62.2 percent, according to the audit.

McKinley’s utilization rate is 41.6 percent. The district previously closed part of the building, and before that closed North Elementary. North is now used for preschool and after-school programs.

The performance audit was conducted in response to a May financial forecast that projected the district would have a deficit of more than $4.8 million in fiscal year 2022.

The audit recommended the district close Dobbins and Union Elementary; eliminate the equivalent of 18.5 full-time positions; renegotiate sick-leave accumulation and severance payout; implement an energy management plan; develop a data-driven bus replacement plan; reduce extracurricular activity subsidies; and make food services more profitable.

If the district were to implement all the recommendations, the audit estimates savings of $1.6 million.

Janofa said the district plans to seek proposal requests for the Dobbins, Union and North buildings.

“We understand the historic value of our buildings, especially the Union complex,” he said.

“We also know the value of the ball fields and the playgrounds. We’re going to solicit ideas from others, whether it’s an individual or a group, that’s got a proposal the board would look at. Nothing is concrete.”

A state report a few years ago indicated Poland schools lost 469 students from 2002 to 2015.

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