The Pleasant Valley School District board of directors approved contracts with two organizations to rent space at the former Eldred Elementary School in Kunkletown to Pocono Family YMCA and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bridge.

The Pocono Family YMCA will finally have a presence in the West End. It will be renting space at Eldred Elementary School for one year beginning Jan. 1, 2011 and ending Dec. 3, at a monthly rental rate of $475.

Matt Rumph, CEO of Pocono Family YMCA is very excited about it.

"I see a need and I believe the community will embrace the services we will be bringing in to them," he says.

The YMCA will bring in exercise classes and youth sports, utilizing the school's gym and baseball field, and two rooms for possibly weight lifting equipment. Silver Sneakers, an exercise program sponsored by Geisinger Health Systems, for senior citizens, will also be a part of the services offered.

"We can't thank the Pleasant Valley School Board and especially Dr. Arnold enough. They approached us, looking for area non-profits to utilize the school as a community center," says Rumph.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge will be renting space at Eldred for one year. They began Monday, and will end Oct. 31, 2011 at a monthly rental rate of $100.

Holly Harding, Big Brothers Big Sisters case manager for Monroe County is looking forward to bringing the organization's presence into the West End.

"There is a need. We have a ton of kids in the West End who are in need of the type of mentoring service we provide. I will be at Eldred one day a week," says Harding.

When the PVSD board of directors voted to close Eldred as a school at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, reasons were given because the number of students attending the school had been steadily dropping, from 239 in 2007 to 155 in 2010, with an average class size of 16.

Because of comparability, Eldred was not comparable to the other elementary schools in the district and if it could not meet comparability status, the district could have lost Title 1 funding of $1.2 million.

The district stated it had no intention of selling the building. It had hopes that it might someday reopen its doors as a school.

"When the decision was made to close Eldred, we did not want to let the building vacant. We immediately began approaching a lot of organizations to rent space in the building. Chris Fisher attended meetings of several nonprofit organizations. YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters are two that responded and we jumped. They didn't have a presence in the West End and there is a call for it. Our community will benefit from them being here," says Dr. Douglas Arnold, PVSD superintendent.

He adds that there is still room left for other agencies to rent space at Eldred and sees this as a great opportunity for everyone.