Posted: 8:00 p.m. Friday, June 27, 2014

Guardsmen help school district with Hustead closure

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Guardsmen help school district with Hustead closure photo
Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Pete Hitzeman removes a row of coat hooks from a classroom at Hustead Elementary so they can be reused Friday as he and other members of the 178th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard volunteered their services to help Greenon School District move out of the school as they consolidate their resources this summer. Bill Lackey/Staff
Guardsmen help school district with Hustead closure photo
Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Chad Carter carries a load of shelves past a wall decorated with Hustead Elementary student and faculty hand prints Friday as he and other members of the 178th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard volunteered their services to help Greenon School District move out of the school as they consolidate their resources this summer. Bill Lackey/Staff

Staff Writer

The Springfield-based 178th Fighter Wing was at Hustead Elementary School on Friday, helping the district with its consolidation process.

Greenon Local Schools closed Hustead at the end of the school year because of a looming financial deficit and declining student enrollment, according to spokeswoman Megan Anthony.

In the fall, the district will have one less building and one less bus route. The consolidation could save $585,000 per year.

Hustead, which is about 43,500 square feet, was chosen for closure mostly for the cost it takes to heat the building, about $65,000 a year on average.

The district will save $80,000 on maintenance costs alone, said John McCarty, the district’s maintenance supervisor.

“When you take one school out of the picture it reduces a whole building and 20 acres of property we don’t have to maintain,” McCarty said.

Hustead will be used mostly for storage throughout this school year until the district figures out what it wants to do with the building.

Twelve Air National Guard members helped school staff members Friday move coat hooks, cabinets and boxes teachers left.

“Everything that we are doing will help the kids have a better learning experience. We are going to make sure they can hang their book bags and coats up and have shelves for all their books,” Master Sgt. Sarah Berzes said. “Basically we are recycling so they can merge everything into those three schools.”

The Guard has probably put his small team a month ahead of schedule, McCarty said, and saved him thousands of dollars in man-power hours.

“This is the third day they have been here and they have been a huge help,” he said.

The assistance means the district’s staff can focus on larger issues, McCarty said, like re-configuring computer labs.

The district will also cut costs by having fewer bus routes. Next year, the district will only make two rounds around the district instead of three. The change will save the district $51,000 in hourly wages for bus drivers plus fuel costs, Anthony said.

However, as part of that change seventh and eighth graders will ride the bus with high school students.

“There is such an age difference and there is such a difference in maturity level,” Greenon parent Lori Pettit said.

She has one child going into sixth grade and another going into ninth grade. There is a difference in the type of conversation between the boys, Pettit said, and she is concerned about bullying and foul language.

However, an Enon graduate herself, Pettit understands times are tough and district has to do the best with what it has.

“I’m sure they can make it work. It is just a concern for any parent,” Pettit said.

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