Forget ‘no more pencils, no more books.’ There will soon be no more school district in Galien Township.
Although Galien has long been fighting for its financial life, the school board voted last night to shut down operations when the current school year comes to a close on Wednesday.
“Again, I don’t think surprise or shock but just knowing that it’s over, you know, it’s a grieving process,” said Galien Township Superintendent Tim Allard.
Despite the fact that there has been an operating school in Galien Township since the 1800’s, there was an overwhelming feeling –this year—that it just couldn’t last much longer.
“A good part of why it has come to this is the uncertainty of what was going to happen,” said Joyce Hickok.
Hickok has lived across the street from the school for 40 years. She used to teach there, and all her children graduated from Galien. “We had almost a thousand kids at one time in this school,” Hickok said.
Hickok now serves on the Galien Township School Board where, last December, she had to make some tough decisions to lay off teachers, and end student bussing.
A recent survey showed that of the 80 students who are attending Galien this academic year, only 22 planned to be back in the fall. That’s a year to year enrollment drop of 72-percent.
“It just became a decision that was mathematical, we just couldn’t afford to operate,” said Superintendent Allard. “
The closing will leave five teachers out of work. Two others won’t have to be laid off by Galien because they had already landed jobs in other districts.
The closing also leaves four support workers without jobs.
Galien’s attendance area will be split between the Buchanan and River Valley School Districts.
“Those of us who really, really cared about this situation said if the school goes, what do we have left?” asked Hickok. “What do we really have left in this town, and there you are, there’s your answer: Nothing basically.”
While classes will end at Galien, the law requires that someone remain on staff to answer the phones and handle student records for two years.