Guest column/Wayne Elementary: The little school with the big heart

At the end of this school year, Wayne Elementary will be closing its doors and will not be reopening them again for students.

Wayne was designated by the state board of education as an excellent school, yet the Indian Creek Local Board of Education has made the decision to close our beloved school at the end of this school year.

Over the years, Wayne Elementary has consistently been there helping our local community. I continually hear from people who support the closing of Wayne, “That our school is too small and it really won’t matter if it closes.” I strongly disagree. Our small school, Wayne, has been one of the main supporters financially of the Wayne Township Food Pantry. We have fed more than 40 families and senior citizens in the last two years in our donations alone. I’m sure to those 40 families, it will have a great impact if they lose one more meal during these difficult financial times.

We understand the difficult situations families are in financially and have made sure that our students are taken care of. We started a holiday toy drive at Wayne to make sure every child in our school gets to celebrate the holiday season. During the past three years, parents, local businesses and the Wayne PTO have supplied warm clothes and holiday presents to more than a dozen of our own students who would have gone without during the holiday season. What will happen to those students when our doors close? How many will be lost in a district that will be at 96 percent of capacity when our doors close? In just the last year, Wayne Elementary raised more than $1,645 for our local United Way, an additional $320 to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy Relief and, in one week, the students and families from Wayne Elementary delivered to the Wayne Township Food Pantry more than 1,000 canned goods and a check for $908.

Wayne Elementary has always supported our district. Wayne worked with Mr. Coppa from the Indian Creek Boosters and raised approximately $1,200 for the boosters in sales at our school this year.

Wayne PTO was at every single levy committee meeting for the past two years. Members of the Wayne PTO devoted our time to hand out levy information at Indian Creek football games and participated in a canvassing party. Wayne Elementary has also financially supported our levy campaigns with donations from our PTO. Wayne PTO has attended Friends of Indian Creek meetings. Our parents not only love Wayne Elementary, but we care about the district as a whole and have continually shown our support.

Wayne Elementary may be a small school, but it has a big heart. We have continually been there for our district and community.

Closing Wayne Elementary is not going to save our district financially. It will only splinter our community and make any type of levy nearly impossible to pass in the future.

Unfortunately, voting statistics have shown when you close a school in an area that the affected area rarely passes any type of levy. If closing our doors ensured that the district would be fiscally sound, we would not object but this will not fix the long-term financial problems our district is in.

I always hear how “my generation is leaving the area” but for a lot of us who have decided to stay it was not because of great job opportunities, a booming economy or the pursuit of wealth. We stay because we want our children to grow up in the same small community that we have grown up in and that we love. We stay to be near our families, friends and neighbors who make up our communities. We stay because we have hope. We believe in our community.

We are asking for our community that we have always supported and believed in to please help support Wayne Elementary. Please contact members of the Indian Creek school board members to ask them to reconsider their decision to close Wayne Elementary.

Board members are Kim Marks, Bob Smith, Danny Bove, Dr. Ted Starkey and Dr. John Figel

(Albaugh-Carpenter, a resident to Steubenville, is the secretary and past president of the Wayne PTO.)