State College

Houserville parents open to proposed school merger

While parents at Corl Street Elementary are urging the State College Area School District to reconsider repurposing their school building, parents of the Houserville/Lemont Elementary school have accepted the future of combining schools.

“I think it’s inevitable,” said Rachel Prinkey, who has a kindergartener attending the Lemont school. “It’s sad to lose the intimacy of Lemont — it’s a great facility — but it’s not big enough.”

The public was invited to an informational meeting Wednesday at the Houserville Elementary School. Hosted by SCASD representatives, the meeting marked the third of four gatherings designed to allow the public and concerned members of the community provide their thoughts on the district’s proposal for four of its elementary schools.

The proposals are part of a larger State College Area School District master plan to update, renovate and/or consolidate its facilities.

The district has allocated about $40 million to put toward the projects, however, it is expecting $3 million to $4 million in state funds to help offset some costs, district Director of Physical Plant Ed Poprik said.

Administration is seeking community recommendations and will then look to the nine-member school board to take action on a plan.

According to a report from the district, renovations and/or new construction will be considered for Houserville, Radio Park and Corl Street elementary schools.

It includes consolidating Lemont with Houserville Elementary School — an option the district proposed in 1999.

While Prinkey lamented the closure of the Lemont facility, she said her daughter’s response was positive, asking if the schools were combined, would the library finally be open every day?

Business Administrator Randy Brown said the input meetings had been going well, with a lot of listening, learning and questions. Some of the parents are beginning to understand, he said, that the district needs to make a decision on what will be the best way to move the district forward.

“Everyone admits something needs to be done in all four buildings,” he said. “What’s going to happen at one or two of them have made some people anxious.

“(Houserville) is a slam dunk,” he added. “The only opposition we might hear is some people like the historic Lemont building and are concerned about its future if it’s not a school.”

Parent Teacher Organization President Ashley Eveleth, who has two children entering the Houserville school next school year, said the schools share resources already.

“I think it would really do a lot for the school and the community to bring the schools together,” she said.

College Township Councilwoman Carla Stilson, who has two children at the Lemont school, said the merger could offer a lot of possibilities. She was most concerned with making sure students in grades K-2 and 3-5 remained separate after the merger, and that the administration offices remained accessible.

“With enough public input at this level, this could be a really exciting thing,” she said. “If the end result is done well, it could be great.”

The final public meeting to discuss the proposals is slated for 7 p.m. June 16 at Mount Nittany Middle School.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews