Lacy Arguments Heard:Neither Side Budges

Warren Times Observer 9-22-88

By TOM SCHULTZ Staff writer

For an hour and a half Wednesday evening, Warren County School District officials explained to parents and residents from Warren's east side why Lacy Elementary School should be closed.

Parents and residents spent the same time trying to convince school officials that Lacy should remain open.

Both sides stated their cases eloquently, but neither appeared to have changed any minds.

The public hearing was the second in a series scheduled by the school district on proposed school closings. Under a plan to promote better building utilization, the school board of directors is considering a recommendation to close McClintock, Lacy; Irvinedale, Scandia, Home Street, North Warren and, Sheffield elementary schools * and Tidioute Junior/Senior High School, and ; Institute grade-level realignments between Pittsfield and Youngsville elementary schools and Sheffield and Allegheny Valley elementary schools.

A proposal to shift fifth graders in the Warren service area to Beaty Warren Middle School for the 1989-90 school years has already been approved.

Prior to Wednesday's hearing, Superintendent Dr. Ronald Snyder said the fifth-grade shift must be followed by the closing of some schools because, "It's not feasible to keep schools like Lacy open" with just kindergarten through fourth grade. Although public hearings are scheduled at six schools in the Warren service area, Snyder said there is "no number that have to be closed" to make the building utilization plan work effectively.

He also said a decision on which schools to close will be made as "a package" instead of individually; that probably won't happen until the school directors' February meeting.

Under the proposal to close Lacy, students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade would be transferred to South Street Elementary School.

Students living in the area bounded on the east by the Warren Borough limit and on the west by Marion St. would be bused to South Street. Other Lacy students said Hal Miller, the school district's Director of transportation, would have to walk. “The walk will do your youngsters well,” Miller told |the parents.

Lacy’s third-day enrollment this year is 101 students and the school |is operating at 40.4 percent of capacity, according to Principal Tony Marino. If the school were to remain open, there would be just 90 students (36 percent of capacity) next year.

One of the major concerns, the absence of an elementary school in the area if Lacy, Irvinedale and Scandia are closed, was expressed repeatedly. The closings, said Terry Hallock, 1504 Pennsylvania Ave. east, president of the Lacy PTO, would create "an empty space between South Street and Allegheny Valley (schools)."

" We realize the decisions are going to be tough”, Hallock told the school officials, asking that they "consider the wide area affected. "

“ Close Lacy or Irvinedale”, he concluded, “but not both.”

That sparked the suggestion of combining the two schools, but Snyder said it is not feasible as long as the proposal to close Irvinedale remains under consideration. The public hearing at Irvinedale is scheduled for next Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

Snyder told the approximately 65 persons attending the Lacy hearing that "space is available at South and he called the proposal “economically feasible." As for the Irvinedale suggestion, he estimated $300,000 would be needed over the next three or four years "to bring Irvinedale up to standards."

After Wednesday's hearing concluded, Barbara Tubbs the school board's vice president; said the administration will wait until all of the hearings have been held and then present a final recommendation. If Lacy or Irvinedale is dropped from the list of schools targeted for closing she said," a proposal to combine the two could be addressed at that time.

Snyder deflated a rumor about moving the school district's central office to Lacy if the school is closed; saying it "was not of recent vintage. I would not want to spend the money (necessary) to put the administrative office here. Projected capital improvements at Lacy include a new roof, windows and-doors,: and retrofitting the heating system at a cost of more than $325,000.

Asked about the fate of the Lacy and Irvinedale playgrounds and ball fields if the schools are closed, Snyder responded; My recommendation would be they remain accessible. It's unfortunate the South Street building isn't here."

Dr. Chester Singer; director of special education for' the school district, said several classes would probably be relocated if Lacy; students are moved to South Street.

Special education students comprise 22 percent of South Street's enrollment, said Singer; who called that figure "an unacceptably high percentage... We need a more realistic balance."

Most likely to be relocated are two trainable mentally retarded (TMR) classes and the severely and profoundly mentally retarded (S/PMR) class. Since the classes draw students from throughout the school district, Singer; said he would try to relocate the classes as close to the students' homes as possible.

Before the hearing adjourned, Bernard Hessley, school board: president said "we have the buildings, but we don't have the kids to put in them. It doesn't make sense to run the same number of schools with fewer students.

"What is the school board to do?" he asked. "If we had to start over, we wouldn’t have South Street, Irvinedale (or several other schools). We would build one school and take care of the entire eastern end. But we can't do that now... we're way past that now.”

Can you run a school this size with this heating system for 91 kids?" he concluded. "What would you do?"

3 Schools Closed;Tidioute Survives

Warren Times Observer 2-28-1989

By JUDE DIPPOLD Night Editor

The Warren County School District, following the recommendations of its administration, will close three of its Warren-area elementary schools — McClintock, Lacy and Irvinedale — at the end of this school year.

But the district's board of education balked at the administration's recommendations for Tidioute Junior-Senior High School.

Instead of voting to approve a conditional one-year reprieve for the Tidioute school, the board, meeting in special session Monday, amended that proposal .advanced by Superintendent Dr. Ronald Snyder and voted, 7-2, simply to keep the school open and request a Middle States evaluation. In effect, the board granted an indefinite reprieve to the school which has faced the prospect of closing for a decade.

Another amendment advanced by Director Bernard Hessley, designed to force the board to vote on closing the school, died for lack of a second.

Snyder's original proposal would have kept Tidioute Junior-Senior High School open for the 1989-90 school year. The school would have been closed at the end of that school year if it failed to maintain a 50 percent building utilization rate. Its ninth- to twelfth-grade students would then have had the option of, attending Youngsville Junior-Senior High School, West Forest Junior-Senior High School or Titusville Junior-Senior High School.

Snyder had also proposed conducting a Middle States' evaluation of the school. The board, meeting in a work session earlier this month, had discussed extending Snyder’s original reprieve from one year to two after learning that the evaluation could take a year and a half to complete. The board, unable to act on the matter at that time, did note that whatever action it took would not bind either itself or future boards.
Tidioute Junior-Senior High School could once again be proposed for closing, but the board at that time would be forced to once again hold a hearing and follow the state school code timetable to implement the closing. Snyder's proposal, if it had been approved, would have allowed the school to have been closed automatically if it failed to maintain the 50 percent building utilization rate at the end of the 1989-90 school year.

The board voted individually on each of the eight schools for which closing hearings had been held. The votes to close the three elementary schools recommended by Snyder earlier this month were near unanimous. The board voted unanimously to close McClintock and Lacy elementary schools and had only one dissenter, Joanne Culbertson, on the vote to close Irvinedale Elementary School. The board was also unanimous in voting to keep Scandia, Home Street, Sheffield and North Warren elementary schools open.

Director Jeffrey McKown, the Tidioute area's lone representative on the board, advanced the amendment to Snyder's original proposal as soon as the board began its discussion on Tidioute Junior-Senior High School. The amendment won a quick second from Director Donald Sobina.

McKown argued that Snyder's original proposal for the school with all its options “assumes failure." The Middle States' evaluation, according to McKown, would give the Tidioute School a chance "to succeed and not just survive." McKown maintained that the quality of education at Tidioute does need to be evaluated. He asked the district's administration to pursue whatever recommendations the evaluation produces.

McKown also argued against transferring students on Youngsville bus route Y-109 to Tidioute. The approval of his amendment by the board ended that aspect of Snyder's proposal designed to bolster enrollment at Tidioute. The transfer would have been voluntary for students already attending Youngsville Junior-Senior High School.

Hessley attempted to amend 'McKown's amendment to force a vote on closing Tidioute Junior- Senior High School at the end of; the 1992-93 school year. Admitting that his 'proposal would probably "get me lynched, Hessley recommended keeping Tidioute Elementary School open and closing the high school in four years if it does not have a 50 percent building utilization rate. Hessley further, proposed that if the school were closed, the district offer to help the Tidioute area set up an independent school district or offer Tidioute students the same options advanced by Snyder.

When Hessley's amendment failed to draw a second, the board resumed discussing McKown's: amendment and Snyder's original recommendation.

Director Barbara Tubbs strongly urged her colleagues to support Snyder's recommendation. Tubbs argued that the school has been recommended for closing by two studies in 1979 and 1985 and that it was time for the board to face up to facts. Those facts, Tubbs Claimed, were a persistently low enrollment level and staffing problems. Tubbs argued that the directors are charged by the, state constitution with running a "thorough and efficient" educational system. Tidioute Junior-Senior High School is neither thorough nor efficient, I she concluded.

Hessley took up the same cudgel, arguing that "we've got to have the courage to stand up and say this is what we are doing. These aren't new ideas closing Tidioute Junior-Senior High School, we've just had our heads buried in the sand. We've got to get on with it (closing the school)."

Hessley and Tubbs' colleagues were not so eager "to get on with it." Board president Director Jon Marti argued that "Tidioute, like Scandia, is a unique situation whether we like it or not." Marti noted that the board had earlier voted to keep Scandia open because of its geographical location. Hessley had earlier referred to Scandia as a "unique" situation in arguing that it be kept open.

Director John Lyon countered Tubbs efficient argument by noting that he did not find the estimated $18,000 cost of busing Tidioute students to Youngsville efficient.

Culbertson maintained that ; serious bus wreck could "wipe out every kid in Tidioute" of secondary school age. McKown also took up the busing issue, noting that a recent transportation study done for the district by Ketron Inc. did not favor busing to Youngsville. They were supported by Sobina who claimed that a trip down Davey Hill Road into Tidioute is "the adventure of a lifetime."

Director Allen Norton urged that the district take positive steps before the Middle States evaluation' to improve the quality; of education at Tidioute.

When the full board voted on McKown's amendment, keeping the school open and beginning a Middle States' evaluation only Hessley and Tubbs were in opposition.

Earlier the board heard two Tidioute-area residents; Harvey Weaver and Robert Davis, advance arguments for keeping the school open including economic development, safety and the quality of Tidioute education.

The board also voted to have the administration conduct an in-house study on Snyder's proposal for elementary school learning centers. The learning centers would be formed by grouping primary- and intermediate-level elementary students at different schools.

The board voted to close McClintock after hearing a resident in the area served by: that school, Mrs. Ruth Seebeck, express misgivings about plans to divide McClintock's students between Pleasant and Market Street elementary schools. Reassignments will be made at the board's May meeting.

The vote to close Lacy drew no citizen representative to address the board, but did evoke remembrances from both Hessley and Marti who attended the school. Hessley noted attendance differences from those days to now and concluded that with the decline "Lacy is no longer viable."

Gary Wallin, president of the Irvinedale PTA, argued for keeping his school open. Wallin maintained that a plan developed in conjunction with Lacy parents to bus Lacy students to Irvinedale would keep Irvinedale at a sufficiently high student population level. Wallin argued that the high capital costs of maintaining Irvinedale as projected by the board is illusory since it is part of the district's normal upgrading and "maintenance program. He maintained that closing the schools will reduce property values in Glade Township.

Wallin's main argument, the Lacy student transfer, was undercut by board members who argued that all Lacy students would have to be bused to Irvinedale while some of those students could walk to South Street School in Warren.

Hessley, in responding to Wallin touched on the central issue in the school closings while attacking one of the main premises of those opposed to the closings; "That's a parochial attitude (Wallin's assertion that Irvinedale was Glade Township's school). It isn't your school; it's our school. We're all in this together Warren County is not a growing area, Hessley argued, citing declines in population and tax base. "We are in a decline. We have to wake up and smell the coffee," he concluded.

Supermarket May Replace School

Warren Times Observer 12-14-1989

Staff Writer

A new supermarket may be built on the property where the vacant Lacy Elementary School now stands.
Anderson’s Supermarket, which has an existing business on Warren’s east side, submitted the highest
bid among five bids on the property received by school officials on Tuesday.

According to Larry Conrad, business manager for the Warren County School District, Anderson’s Supermarket Inc. submitted a bid of $90,000, which was in line with an $89,000 appraisal of the Lacy property obtained by the school district and almost $20,000 more than the next highest bidder’s proposal.
Other bidders were the First Salem United Methodist Church, $10,000; David Swanson, attorney, $10,150; Merlin Bearfield, $15,300, and Robert W. Leathers,$70,223.40.

Conrad said the Building and Grounds Committee of the school board will meet Thursday, Dec. 21, to make a recommendation on which bid should be accepted. The full board may take action on the proposed sale at its Jan. 8 meeting, said Conrad.

Conrad said the Lacy property includes about 300 feet of frontage along Pennsylvania Ave., E., and extends north along Marion St. about 300 feet, to a point near the small baseball backstop near the parking lot of the school. In deciding to sell the school, Building and Grounds Committee members agreed the playground and ballfield areas, the only such facilities in the eastern section of Warren, should be preserved for public use and excluded from the property sale.

Daryl Anderson, owner of Anderson’s supermarket, said Wednesday that assuming his bid is accepted and rezoning is approved, plans are to remove the school building and build a new supermarket there. The new supermarket would replace the existing store, said Anderson, and the present store at 1817 Pennsylvania Ave.,.E., would probably be sold.

Anderson explained, “We’re landlocked where we are now — we can’t go sideways or forward with expansion, so we’ve been waiting for the right time and the right opportunity. This is the first step.
Warren Zoning Officer James Pillar said that the parcel on which Lacy is located is presently zoned residential (R-3) and would have to be rezoned to commercial (C-2) before a supermarket could be built there. If the property were rezoned to commercial, said Pillar, Anderson’s would only have to show that it could provide sufficient parking.

Anderson said he is aware of the need to rezone the property, but expressed confidence that can be accomplished. There are businesses located directly east and west of the school property.

The timetable for building the new supermarket depends on how quickly the zoning matter can be resolved, said Anderson, but he expects the new store will be open by sometime in 1990.

Lacy time capsule rekindles memories
for former students

Warren Times Observer 4-4-1990

Staff Writer

“It’s funny how times have changed.”

With that, Alice Anderson looked back at the days when Lacy Elementary School was built. It’s now six decades later, and Lacy is being torn down.

A time capsule that was embedded in the old building in 1928 was opened Monday. bringing back a flood of memories for those who were around then.
Anderson was a teacher way back then, and eventually became the principal at the school. “I’m 94 now.” she said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Discussing the demolition, she said, “It made me heartsick when I went by the building.” The former principal, who retired in 1961, said, “All the trees in the front yard were down.” Anderson explained that even though it’s difficult for her to get around, she is still able to drive a car and she’s been driving
around her old stomping grounds.

“ I went by today (Tuesday). They were tearing down the building.” she said. The workers were taking out the old windows as they tore down the front of the structure.

“ When you’ve spent so many years in a building. it’s a shame.” she said. “That school was well-built. It’s a shame they’re tearing it down.”

Recalling what it was like to teach school in those days, Anderson said, “You were not allowed to be married and be a teacher.” She said she had contemplated marriage, but later changed her mind.
“ One teacher at the old Glade building was fired because she was seen having dinner with a man. You couldn’t go out in public with a man,” she said. “Now nearly every teacher has a missus in front of her name,” she said. “Oh. how customs have changed.”

Mary Jane Mohr Weaver was in the fourth grade when the time capsule was assembled. “We all had to sign our names on a piece of paper,” she recalled. “Each grade was listed and they were all clipped together.”

At that time she was attending the old Glade School on the corner of Park Ave. and Locust St., and Lacy was being built to replace it.

“The whole school marched up from the old school to Lacy ”, she said. “We all went.” Weaver, who said the following year she started fifth grade at Lacy. recalled some of the contents that were placed in the time capsule. Among them were a list of pupils, a flag. several copies of the local~ newspaper. a picture of President Hoover, a nickel, and several envelopes of things pertaining to the school district. “It was just something to do in school at that time,” she recalled.

Weaver was present, however. as the time capsule was opened Monday. “It took you back to old acquaintances,” she said. adding, “A lot of them are dead now.”

Daisy Smith was also present when the time capsule was put into the cornerstone of the building, and when it was taken out. “I remember standing out front.” she recalled. She said she must have been in the seventh grade. “It’s a long time ago. I remember standing there when they put it in. I didn’t think it would be torn down before I died. They shouldn’t have torn it down. it’s too nice of a building.” she said. “It makes you nostalgic.”

What surprised Smith when the time capsule was opened was the condition of its contents. “It was amazing what good condition the stuff was in,” she said. “it was just like it was written yesterday.”