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As Kamrin Angel walked home from Tappan Elementary School in Ravenna Tuesday, the 4th grader found himself sad about what the next school year would bring. Students were being sent home with letters explaining that the school is closing.
"All my friends are here, and they're all going to Carlin," the boy said. "I'm the only one who has to go to West Main."
The Ravenna Board of Education voted Monday night to close Tappan, located at 310 Bennett Ave., effective at the end of this school year. The move is expected to save the district $350,000, said Superintendent Dennis Honkala.
Students would be split among West Main, Carlin and Williard elementary schools, all of which, like Tappan, house students in first through fifth grades, he said.
Students were sent home with letters for their parents on Tuesday, and Honkala said the district would address next year's school placement with each parent.
Tappan had been studied for closure for several years, Honkala acknowledged, noting that studies on the school were done by the district's previous superintendent, Tim Calfee. Robert Mittiga is principal of both Tappan and Carlin Elementary Schools, a move Honkala said the district made because it knew it would have to close a school.
"Tappan had been looked at in the past," Honkala said. "It has the least enrollment. It just makes sense."
The school has 190 students, the fewest among all Ravenna elementary schools. West Park Elementary School, the district's kindergarten building, has 220 students; West Main Eementary has 270; Carlin Elementary has 260 students; west Main Elementary has 270 and Williard Elementary has 295.
Districtwide, Ravenna has 2,900 students, more than 1,000 fewer than a district study showed in 1980.
Honkala said he believes attrition will allow the district to find a place for all teachers and classified staff at Tappan, and expressed hope that none would lose their jobs as a result of the closure. Staff was informed of the news two weeks ago, he said.
The district has no plans to sell the building, and Honkala expressed hope that the building could be rented out, just as the former Rausch Intermediate School was rented to the Portage Educational Service Center after it closed. The building was constructed in 1952. It was named for Benjamin Tappan, the founder of Ravenna.
"It's a great building for educational use," Honkala said.
He said the district has been struggling with declining enrollment in recent years. Enrollment at Tappan has been declining since 1980, when it had 282 students.
"We have to be good stewards of taxpayers dollars," he said.
Board of Education member Joan Seman said she didn't think the news would come as much of a surprise to the rest of the staff in the school district.
In 2007, the district was considering closing a school to qualify for Ohio Schools Facilities Commission funding to renovate or reconstruct the district's facilities. However, Honkala said the district is "not at all" considering such a project now.
"Right now, we're just going to hunker down and educate the students who want to be here," he said.
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