Reorganizing Pocono Schools

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Some school districts in Monroe County are looking for ways to reduce budget deficits and address shrinking enrollment.

The Stroudsburg Area School district is considering closing one of its five elementary schools to save money.

In the Pocono Mountain School District, two schools may close due to a drop in enrollment.

All school districts in Monroe County are in the midst of working on their budgets for the next school year.

The Stroudsburg Area School District has a $9 million hole to close.

One idea it's considering is closing Ramsey Elementary in Stroudsburg.

"Shutting down Ramsey School would save us about $240,000 a year. However, what it would also do for us is to consolidate buildings and save on operating costs," said Dr. John Toleno, the Stroudsburg Area Superintendent.

Ramsey Elementary was built in 1927. It's part of Stroudsburg's historic district. Some parents worry about what the building could become if it's no longer used as a school.

"Not only would it hurt the student population, it would hurt the whole community here," said Bernadette Haros of Stroudsburg.

In the Pocono Mountain School District, officials are faced with a possible $22 million budget deficit and a large drop in enrollment.

They are looking at closing Coolbaugh Elementary Center in Tobyhanna and Swiftwater Intermediate School.

District officials are also looking at reconfiguring other schools by adding grade levels to the remaining schools.

"It's sad, that was my middle school as a child, but times are tough," said Marie Costenbader of Reeders.

Enrollment numbers show just how tough.

The number of students in the Pocono Mountain School District peaked in 2006 with close to 12,000 students.

Since then enrollment has dropped by more than 1,500, with more than 500 leaving over the past school year.

In a written statement, the Pocono Mountain Superintendent said, "There are no easy answers or easy cuts.  We, like most school districts across the nation, face very difficult and uncertain economic times,".

School districts have until June to finalize their budgets for the upcoming school year.

Any final decisions on whether to close those schools in Pocono Mountain and Stroudsburg Area could be months away.