Pioneer Valley Regional School District to determine school closings next week

Franklin County

The future will be determined next week for two schools in Franklin County.

The plan to close either or both elementary schools in Leyden and Warwick comes on the heels of declining enrollment, which is affecting rural districts across the state.

Some Leyden residents are concerned the town could possibly lose its elementary school because of the school system’s financial problems.

The Pioneer Valley Regional School District is running at a $450,000 deficit.

Superintendent Jon Scagel told 22News the school committee will decide next Thursday whether to close Pearl Rhodes Elementary School in Leyden and the Warwick Community School.

Scagel said information studied and gathered by the Honest Education and Retaining Trust, as well as the Central Office Administration, will also be discussed at the upcoming school committee meeting.

Leyden’s Finance Committee Chairwoman told 22News, the deficit is part of a bigger problem affecting rural communities across the state.

“We’ve had several years of declining enrollment, which affects how much money we get from the state. Also, Chapter 70 funding from the state has been flat over many years,” said Leyden’s Finance Committee Chairwoman, Ginger Robinson.

The Chapter 70 program provides state aid to public elementary and secondary schools… and also establishes minimum spending requirements for each school district.

But Robinson said the Chapter 70 formula has been skewed towards more urban and wealthier areas, causing rural areas to come up short.

Next week’s school committee meeting will be held at the Pioneer Valley Regional School in Northfield.

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