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Clarksville Elementary on the block

This sentiment has been evident at the two public forums the district has held on the issue, when parents, teachers and alumni have spoken highly and sometimes emotionally of the value of a Clarksville education.

There have been parents and community members who, while acknowledging the school's quality, say closure is the only way to provide an adequate education to students there and district wide.

Enrollment numbers fuel debate

This sentiment is in large part based on Clarksville's low enrollment, and is chief among the reasons administrators have drawn a fix on this school. Having just 203 students at the school means most grades have only two class sections, some just one. This has led to the propagation of multi-age classrooms, where students in grades one and two will be in the same class, for example.

The use of these classrooms has in the past sparked protest from parents who feel their children are being bilked educationally. Some have also raised worries their children will be stuck with the same handful of peers for their entire elementary experience, leaving them without opportunities for socialization.

Others, however, have said they prefer a small school environment. Parent Judy Abbott said her children have plenty of contact outside of school hours with sports and other activities.

"We're involved in so many different aspects of our community," she said. "We do a pretty good job of keeping our kids socially accessible."

From the district's point of view, however, keeping smaller classes at one of the six elementary schools is not a fair allocation of resources. The district tries to keep class sizes relatively uniform.

"In the business world this would be called consolidating resources to come out with a better bottom line," said Superintendent Michael Tebbano.

Abbott also questioned the district's projections that enrollment will continue to decline at Clarksville. These figures are the generated by the same methods, she argued, that in 2003 predicted the district would need to build Eagle Elementary to handle a growing population. The opposite has come to pass.

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