Union Leader North Country reporter John Koziol describes how declining enrollment combined with declining state support for school funding resulted in the recent school board decision to close the Berlin’s iconic Brown Elementary School. Here are some highlights:
The city’s last public, neighborhood elementary school will close at the end of the school year, the victim of declining enrollment and the continued drop in state educational aid…..
On Jan. 17, the Berlin School Board voted 3-1 to close the school, which currently has 256 students in grades K-3, according to Corinne Cascadden, the superintendent of School Administrative Unit 3.
“It’s a very emotional thing” Cascadden said, adding that “It’s an icon in the community.”…
“We knew that if the education funding was not revisited that we would not be able to sustain our programs in our current structure,” said Cascadden. “We’ve known that we were losing enrollment over the last 10 years and we’ve reduced staff but you can only decrease a budget so much to still be a New Hampshire-approved school.”
Had enrollment been the only challenge facing the Brown School, Cascadden said the school board might have entertained a closure conversation in three to five years, but the fact that Berlin has not received “stabilization” grants from the state since 2016, moved that date up considerably.
Since 2016, Berlin has lost a cumulative $879,295 in aid and therefore closing the Brown School, while difficult, “was the only choice the school board had,” she said….
Read the whole piece here.