The question of whether or not to keep Eldred Elementary School in Kunkletown open will be the subject at a public hearing of the Pleasant Valley School District's school board on Thursday, March 4 at 7 p.m. The board will be receiving information regarding the possible closing of Eldred Elementary School in Kunkletown.
There has been a school in Eldred Township since the first was housed in the log church of St. Matthew's as recorded in 1782-83.
The Gower School was the first school after that, built by Anthony Gower in 1847. It was rebuilt and a charter was presented to the school directors of Eldred Township in 1872, making it one of the first public schools in Monroe County. Other one-room schools in Eldred Township were Kleintop School, Frantz School, Smith Gap School, Barlieb School, with grades one through eight.
If students from these schools wished to continue their education after eighth grade, they could attend the Fairview Academy in Chestnuthill Township, which was organized in 1880 or the Polytechnic Institute in Gilbert, founded in 1886, which later became Polk Township High in 1908. The school was later moved to Kresgeville in 1913. Another choice was Palmerton High School.
In 1946 there were five one-room schools in Eldred Twp. recorded, and only four in 1947. The new Eldred Township Consolidated Elementary School was built in 1953 and the one-room schools were closed.
Eldred Township Consolidated Elementary School consisted of four class rooms with two grades in each, first through eighth grades, an all-purpose room and an office. It employed four teachers.
The School Reorganization law was signed by Gov. David L. Lawerence in 1961. Eldred entered the Pleasant Valley Jointure in May 1965.
In 1975, construction began and six classrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria were added, housing kindergarten through fourth grades.
Now there is a possibility that the school will be closed.
According to Dr. Douglas Arnold, Pleasant Valley School District superintendent, the issue is enrollment.
In 2005, the enrollment at Eldred was at 272 students. That number has dropped steadily since to the current enrollment of 156 in kindergarten through fourth grade. It was 182 for the 2008/09 school year.
"We're seeing an overall drop in enrollment districtwide and according to projections, enrollment will continue to decrease. Our enrollment as of February 2010 is at 5,949, down from last year's at the same time of 6,301. The previous overall projection for the district for the year 2012-13 was at 7,656 but the new projection number for the 2012-13 year is now 5,345. That's a 2,300-student decrease," says Dr. Arnold.
He cites the decline in new home construction and building permits as the reason for the decline of student enrollment.
"There has been only one permit issued for new home construction and only four building permits issued in Eldred Township this last year," he says.
"It's a wonderful building, a wonderful community but we have to do what is cost effective," he adds. "But nothing has been decided yet."
If a decision is made to close the school, the school district does not plan on selling the building.
"We closed Chestnuthill Elementary some years ago but reopened it again," he says.
The district will make all attempts to keep the present staff employed and the Eldred students will be placed in Polk and Chestnuthill Elementary schools.
"This decline happened very quickly," says Dr. Arnold.