BLADENSBURG — The temperature wasn’t the only thing running hot in Bladensburg as community members gathered at the East Knox Elementary School on Wednesday night to vent their frustrations and seek answers as to why the board feels the need to close the community’s only school.
Superintendent Matt Caputo told the packed cafeteria that the district has “very few options left” and that there is “potential to close this building.” He said the board is having planning meetings to determine how that would happen and when.
“The board wants to wait and see what happens in November, before making any decisions,” Caputo said. He reminded those in attendance that the district has gone to the ballot four times in recent history and has failed all four times.
Board President Renee McDaniel said she hoped the closure of the elementary building would be a temporary measure, but community members feel differently.
“I am strongly opposed to closing this school,” said Amy VanFryman, who feels that two or three years down the road the district will ask for more money to build on to the two schools in Howard because there will not be enough space for students.
She pointed out that only about a quarter of the district’s general fund is used to operate the school district, the remaining balance is used for salaries and benefits.
“The school district blames the community because the levy doesn’t pass — you think it’s the community’s fault,” Van Fryman said. “I have had no raise in four years because of the economy. I’m not going to grant your group a raise. If you ask for a levy to pay the water bill, the electric bill — then I would vote for that.”
Mrs. Ben Bennett, who has lived in the Bladensburg community for 31 years, asked very specific questions of the school board members who were seated in the audience.
“What is the specific reason you are closing this school,” she asked.
“It’s strictly financial,” said McDaniel.
“I’m against it,” said board member Larry Campbell.
No additional answers were provided by board members.