Pocono Mountain to Close Three Schools

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A school district in Monroe County voted to close three schools in order to make its budget for the upcoming year.

Wednesday night the Pocono Mountain School Board made that tough decision, which will lead to the layoffs of hundreds of district employees.

Despite the last ditch pleas from parents and teachers, the Pocono Mountain School Board voted unanimously to close the three schools and lay off nearly 300 employees.

“It's not too late to jam on the brakes and avoid this train wreck,” said teacher Lou Ginsberg. “Don't hurt our children any further. Enough is enough, thank you.”

"It turned out that my choice to teach in Pocono Mountain School District was what my family needed, and it was the right choice,” said teacher Danielle Argot. “Now let's fast forward to today, my job is terminated. In a few weeks I will be unemployed.”

The board voted to close Coolbaugh Elementary Center, Swiftwater Intermediate, and Coolbaugh Learning Center by this August.

With these closures come the layoffs of 280 district employees, 142 of which are professional staff, which includes teachers.

The board has been weighing this decision since it was first proposed in February, but felt with declining enrollment this was the fiscally responsible option.

The district has a proposed $199 million budget for the 2012-2013 school year and still has deficit of about $500,000.

That's down from the initial shortfall of $4.7 million and goal for the board is to pass a budget with no tax increase.

“The goal of preparing a balanced budget with no increase in the millage rate,” said teacher Chris Gilroy. “You guys threw the kids out the window right there.”

With these school closures there will be a district-wide grade realignment for next year.

Kindergarten classes will be split, running kindergarten through second at some schools and third grade through sixth grade at others.

Ninth grade will be moved back to high school level with seventh and eighth grade at the intermediate level.

The board said there is a possibility those furloughed could be hired back due to any number of factor including a position opening up if an employee resigns or retires.