Clear Fork residents express concern over class size

By Zach Jones -

Clear Fork residents in addition to new elementary schools, want to continue the district’s current primary education model.

During the series of community meetings hosted by the school district, both parents and officials alike expressed concern with potentially combining Bellville and Butler Elementary.

One larger school would mean larger class sizes and a potential income tax drain on either Bellville or Butler depending on where the facility would be located.

“Smaller class sizes mean a better education,” Superiendent Janice Wyckoff said to audience members.

Clear Fork currently averages 17.6 students per classroom, which is well below the state average of 21.3 for elementary schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“I came to Clear Fork and couldn’t believe the difference,” Kelly Stephens a first grade teacher at Bellville Elementary, who used to teach at a larger district. “There is a feeling of family in the hallways. You know everyone.”

Along with the potential for larger class sizes that would accompany a combined elementary school, is the loss of tax revenue for Bellville or Butler. Construction of one school would mean that one of the two communities would be devoid of an elementary facility resulting in a large loss in their tax base.

“We have two villages in our valley,” said Bellville Mayor Darrell Banks at the Oct. 21 community meeting. “If we decide to go with the one (elementary school), it will cost the villages a substantial amount of money. We will have to cut services.”

A combined elementary school would also likely result in a lengthier commute for students in the 110 mile school district.

By Zach Jones