I am not sure why I am so shocked by the actions of the current Switzerland of Ohio School District board and administration. I have witnessed numerous autocracies over the years as many of the folks who live outside the county seat have been treated as second class citizens. The saving grace of Monroe County up until this point has been that facts, logic, and reason have prevailed.
Board members Hupp, Winkler and Isaly have turned a blind eye to generally accepted truths, and worst yet have violated the basic tenants of holding public office. They are not respecting the will of the people. The majority view of the district has consistently demanded schools in their communities and their kids in a classroom rather than three hours a day on a bus. This was most recently solidified as voters worked with the state facilities commission to build schools across the district.
Superintendent Hall’s ever changing story has gone from tying a levy to the continuation of community schools to saying that money is not a factor in closing Beallsville High. Perhaps this explains why he seems so coldly unconcerned with the millions of Monroe County’s own tax dollars that will escape along with Beallsville’s students.
I joined 37 fellow classmates who graduated from Beallsville in 1992, just as my father joined 31 of his classmates in 1962. The fact is that in Beallsville’s 120 years of graduating classes, the historic enrollment has always been just about where it is now. Enrollment is near what it was when voters approved the state facilities plan four years ago to build a high school , and if not for the district’s action to scare off Beallsville’s students, the enrollment would be higher. The reason Beallsville has worked is that it’s K-12 design has allowed it to be an efficient molder of men. Research shows that these types of community grounded schools often have high success rates and in these modern technology driven times, it is the consolidated schools that struggle for support.
In the face of the realization that it’s not about money and it’s not about improving the curriculum, Superintendent Hall, at the March 18th BOE meeting at River High School said he is closing Beallsville because he said so. Pursuant to Hall’s beliefs (which are not based on facts, study, or research) things will be better when the district loses even more students to open enrollment, e-schools, private schools, and charters. Again, he refused to explain how this was going to be a good thing.
Switzerland’s taxpayers need to awaken to the fact that this move will not just hurt Beallsville, it will hurt everyone. The complete loss of trust in the district jeopardizes this fall’s renewal levy and the basic ability of the district to function at all. Who will be next to lose their school?
Hall, Hupp, Winkler and Isaly may be successful in destroying Beallsville High, but they will eventually be held accountable by voters. Switzerland deserves public servants that they can trust and that will put children ahead of their own vanity. They may be able to close a building, but they can’t change our history and they do not own our future. Beallsville’s future will be what the community makes it.
Christopher R. Pack
1992 Beallsville Alumni