Beaver County

Declining enrollment at schools in Beaver County could lead to mergers, consolidations

BEAVER COUNTY — Parents know education is a big factor in where they choose to live. While mergers and consolidations of school districts is extreme, it is a possibility in Beaver County.

“You can’t put that on the table as the first thing what you need to put on the table first is how do you make each district serve their students,” said Steven Ross with Johns Hopkins University.

Beaver County Partnership spent the last year surveying students and community members with Johns Hopkins to find solutions to declining enrollment in the county’s schools.

“One had interest in script writing for theatre. They didn’t even have a drama program in the school. The school is great though does great on state assessments,” Ross said.

The research shows a love for Beaver County but a frustration in the small schools and limited opportunity. So with 14 small districts spread throughout a huge geographic area, what is the answer?

“It will be up to the larger group of community members to determine is this something they want to do or need to do,” said Dan Matsook, the project leader for Beaver County Partnership.

Five community meetings are set to find out what community members want to do. One example researchers looked at was Pittsburgh Public Schools adapting schools to different learning models. It could be an option for all schools or just secondary schools, but this group said it’s got to be a countywide vision.

“The alternative is one no one wants. Even if you are a senior citizen with your kids out of the school the last 20 years do you want to see your community shrink. What does that mean for the quality of life?” Ross said.

The virtual town halls will be held on Zoom on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m., Monday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. and Wednesday, Feb. 23.

If you want to attend in person, you can go to the town hall at Community College of Beaver County on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. or at Beaver County YMCA on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.