Bancroft Elementary to close in Scranton after months of debate

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — In order to help lower debt and capital improvements, the Scranton School District has voted to close George Bancroft Elementary School.

The community has fought to try and save the old school. More than five months ago was the first public hearing to close the school. The move comes as the district looks to save money.

“When you are $300 million in debt, you have to look at the reality of the situation,” said Scranton School District President Katie Gilmartin.

A banner hangs outside George Bancroft Elementary School. It no longer holds any weight.. as Scranton School Board members voted 7-2 Monday night.. closing it for good.

“There’s people here, down the street, around the corner that you’ve known all your life that went there and I mean they fought. People really did fight for not to be closed,” said Kim Brazen of Scranton.

Brazen has no children but is a proud alumnus of the kindergarten through fifth grade school.

“Oh absolutely! I still have friends that I went to school with them.. still friends with them today,” Brazen said.

More than 200 children will have to continue their own friendships and make new ones at Isaac Tripp Elementary School. The shift in schools is part of the district’s recovery plan to consolidate.

“Money that isn’t spent in capital improvements in buildings that are only ever going to support a small number of students can be reallocated,” Gilmartin told us.

Gilmartin say in a recent feasibility study, capital improvements totaling nearly half a billion dollars were found across 18 district buildings.

“If we don’t have to put any dollars into buildings a, b or c that immediately brings that capital needs number down,” she explained.

“It’s not just going to be Bancroft. Their plan is to do it to other schools as well. As a parent I’m just worried what that’s going to look like for the district,” said Danielle Chesek, who has a child that attends Isaac Tripp Elementary.

In January, Chesek decided to run for school board director after hearing Bancroft was on the chopping block.

“To be that voice for just everybody and I really fought to save Bancroft. My team and I really did,” said Chesek.

The board will have to decide what the next steps are for Bancroft. There are two options, sell it… or find an alternate use within the district as they continue to consolidate.

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