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Dayton Launches New Task Force To Tackle School Closures, Consolidation

Dayton Public Schools
Liam Niemeyer
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WYSO

Dayton officials are seeking public comments on a plan to close or consolidate Dayton Public School-district facilities.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, members of the Dayton City Commission and DPS officials Thursday launched a new 16-member task force that will work to identify underutilized administration buildings and schools for potential shutdown after the current school year.

The task force plans to study the impact of closures and meet with Dayton residents before deciding which neighborhood schools to shutter. Acting DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli says the goal is for more schools to operate closer to capacity.

“That makes it fiscally sound, if you’re about 70 percent," she says. "It’s really about making sure that we have the right enrollment numbers and making sure that we do what’s appropriate for the community.”

Michael Howard attended the early morning meeting. The single parent's 15-year-old son attends Meadowdale High School in West Dayton, one of the lowest-enrollment schools in the district.

Single West Dayton parent Michael Howard is upset about rumors that his son's low-enrollment high school may be on the DPS closure list. "When you lose a school, you lose your neighborhood, you lose the togetherness," he says. DPS officials say they have
Credit Jess Mador / WYSO
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WYSO
Single West Dayton parent Michael Howard is upset about rumors that his son's low-enrollment high school may be on the DPS closure list. "When you lose a school, you lose your neighborhood, you lose the togetherness," he says.

Howard says he's concerned his high-performing Sophomore son may be forced to disrupt his studies and transfer to another school if Meadowdale ends up being closed.

"I go to the basketball games, I go to the football games. I support the school, and he likes the teachers. I understand the school system is under a lot of pressure, but I don't want to be caught at the last minute finding out the school is closed. Then, you have to go around and try to find another school that is college-prep. And I don't want him to lose that," he says.

"When you lose a school, you lose your neighborhood, you lose the togetherness. If you close Meadowdale, you lose that community, and I hate to see that go away."

Two public meetings that were originally scheduled for the week of January 8 have been canceled. Instead, the new task force plans to hold a series of community forums in March.

"Great cities require great schools. In order for us to provide the best possible future for Dayton's children, this task force is of the utmost importance," City Commissioner Jeff Mims said in a press release. "I am proud to be a part of the new partnership between the city and the schools."
 
Recommendations are due to the Board of Education by April, and could take effect next fall.

For information on how to submit your ideas for dealing with under-enrolled schools and other district buildings, go to the DPS website, or email: yourideas@dps.k12.oh.us. 

The School Facility Task Force committee members are:
 
Jeff Mims, Dayton City Commissioner co-chair
Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Board Member co-chair
Elizabeth Lolli, interim Dayton Public School Superintendent
Bryan Bucklew, Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association
Ron Budzik, Dayton Business Committee
Bing Davis, Artist and Community Activist
Shelley Dickstein, Dayton City Manager
Deborah Feldman, Dayton Children's Hospital
Bill Harris, Dayton Public School Board
Tim Kambitsch, Dayton Metro Library
Tom Kelley, Montgomery County
Tom Lasley, Learn to Earn Dayton
Brandon Policicchio, Dayton RTA
David Romick, Dayton Education Association
Richard Stock, University of Dayton 
Robert Walker, Dayton Public School Board