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School board votes to close Nescopeck Elementary

The decision means the 2023-2024 school year will be its last.

NESCOPECK, Pa. — A second attempt to save Nescopeck Elementary School was not enough.

The Berwick Area School board voted 5 to 4 last night in favor of shutting down the kindergarten through fourth grade learning center at the end of next school year, leaving many parents devastated.

"Being, you know, third generation, my kids are fourth generation Nescopeck alumni and current students, it means a lot it us. We are a community over there," said parent Crystal Mickalowski. "And if you didn't go to Nescopeck and you're not from Nescopeck, you might not truly understand how much that school means to us and our community."

The decision is confusing to many parents who say they haven't been able to understand the reasoning behind the decision... 

"They're just saying financial reasons. They're saying that it needs so many renovations that to renovate the school and Salem Elementary school, the district can't afford it," says parent Jennifer Moyer of Hollenback Township.

The district tells Newswatch 16 the vote came about because of a feasibility study presented to the school last year that projected a decline in elementary enrollment.

The district said it considered three options for needed renovations with those numbers in mind. 

First, the district could keep all three schools open and renovate Nescopeck Elementary and Salem Elementary for a cost of about 38 million dollars. 

Second, the district could close Nescopeck, consolidate it with Salem and renovate that school for about 19 million dollars

Finally, the district can close all three current elementary schools and consolidate them into a new one for about 39 million dollars.

Last night's vote shows the board going with the second option, but parents still have concerns.

"We will no longer be able to bring fifth grade back to the elementary schools. We will no longer be able to obtain the small class sizes that everyone's wanting to hopefully improve our test scores," says parent Leah Zwolinski.

The superintendent here at Berwick Area School District tells Newswatch 16 that when the two schools are consolidated, there will be a restructuring of staff to meet the educational needs of the students.

But parents are not confident that that will help with the quality of education or the quality of life they believe this school provides to the community. 

"It's not just a school to us. It's a second home to a lot of the kids where they can grow, get the love and support that some might not get at home," said Mickalowski.

The school is set to close after the 2023-2024 school year. Parents tell us they will continue to fight to keep it open until then.

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