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Challenges ahead for Wolford

By Staff | Jul 19, 2010

The community of Wolford has faced this question many times before – How many more years will the school remain open?

And no definitive answer is often given.

That’s because the community, school staff and volunteers find a way to make financial ends meet and continue to provide a quality education to students in K-12.

However, soon that question may have to be clearly answered.

“We know in two years we will have retirements coming to some of our high school staff and there is going to be a drop in 7-12 enrollment,’ said Larry Zavada, superintendent and elementary principal.

Filling staff and contending with declining enrollment have always been a challenge for the district, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to overcome.

The pool of teachers, especially in some key subject areas, is shrinking. And that makes it more harder for smaller-sized districts to fill positions when larger ones also in need of teachers can offer higher wages.

Zavada also points out that many new teachers prefer to reside in larger towns which offer more in the form of entertainment, housing and shopping. And where the school district’s future is more certain.

Years of declining enrollment is catching up, and the school board and community need to continue to weigh the costs of operating a school against such a small student body. Enrollment last year at the school was xx.

Running a school in the 21st Century is also made demanding to provide technology services to students and the increasing requirements through No Child Left Behind federal legislation is grueling for both staff and students.

Despite those challenges and Wolford’s small size, the education experience offered at Wolford ranks right up there with many schools. Students have achieved above the state proficiency level in state tests. And although students may not have all the opportunities afforded to them like other schools, many graduates have gone on to attend and graduate from college and achieve great success in many diverse career fields.

Indeed, the community holds a great deal of pride for its school and the education offered over the years.

Earlier this year, the school board held a long term planning meeting attended by about 30 residents. The main topic on the minds of many was the future status of the school.

Jeff Slaubaugh, board member, said as long as teachers can be found and adequate funds are there, he wants to see the school remain open.

The long term future of the Wolford School may be in cloudy, but there has been some good news to report in recent years.

Thanks to a boost in state revenue, federal grants and excellent fiscal management, the district has operated in the black for the past three years, Zavada said.

During that time, the board has been able to bump up teacher pay and there has some funds put in reserve.

The short term future is looking good, but it’s what’s on the horizon for this gem of a school remains to seen.

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