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Chris Wheeler plans warrant article to close Jefferson School

November 23, 2010
WHITEFIELD — A former school board member has decided to take matters into his own hands after getting no support from the members of the White Mountains Regional School District school board. The board stated at its Nov. 15 meeting that they would not propose closing the Jefferson School as part of the FY11 budget cycle.

Former school board member Chris Wheeler of Lancaster had asked the board at an earlier meeting whether the board planned to do, noting that if the board did not, he would.

Now that Mr. Wheeler has heard a clear statement from the board, he said in a Friday morning telephone interview that he would go ahead and gather signatures for a petitioned warrant article to close the small school that could be considered by voters at the March 2011 school meeting.

Likely, Mr. Wheeler said, his proposed article would focus on closing the school, but he is also considering developing a second petitioned article calling for a study of the pros and cons as well as the potential costs and savings of making the Whitefield School into a school for younger students in the lower grades and the Lancaster School into a middle school for older students.

The Jefferson School now has a total of 69 students in kindergarten to grade six: six students in kindergarten, 15 in first grade, 11 in second grade, 15 in third, 11 in fourth, 8 in fifth, and 3 in sixth, with one combination class. Based on this year's numbers, half-time principal Sherri Gregory expects 80 students to be enrolled in 2011-2012.

On Oct. 4, when the roster stood at 68, 40 of the Jefferson School students lived in Jefferson, 18 in Lancaster, seven in Whitefield, and three in Dalton, with none from Carroll.

The Whitefield School has a roster of 347 and the Lancaster School, 435, including part-time pre-school students.

WMRSD kindergarten students are offered a full-day program.

Both board chairman Greg Odell of Dalton and vice chairman Randy Boggess of Lancaster explained that they would want to have a formal study of the ramifications of closing the Jefferson School before proposing that step in the board's proposed FY11 budget.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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