A protest to keep Bancroft Elementary open

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Monday night, the board of education will consider the permanent closure of George Bancroft Elementary School in Scranton.

It’s a decision many parents and staff have fought all year. Protestors Sunday were joined by the president of the Pennsylvania NAACP with a strong message for the district.

The PA NAACP president said he’s disappointed in the district for closing George Bancroft.

PTA and staff at George Bancroft Elementary School are fighting to keep it open. They protested outside the school Sunday afternoon, but Scranton School District’s plan to close it down and move the 223 students to Isaac Tripp Elementary is already in motion.

“I like that there’s small classes and huge windows because at Isaac Tripp there’s little, small windows,” second-grader Sagan Sudo said.

Consolidating buildings is part of the district’s recovery plan. According to a statement from district officials, Bancroft’s enrollment is under capacity and the old building needs a lot of work.

The ventilation system needs to be replaced and its not ADA-compliant. For the district, it’s cost effective to move the students to Isaac Tripp, but PA state president of the NAACP, Kenneth Huston, says the decision will put Bancroft’s students at a disadvantage.

“I think they really really need to think about what they’re doing,” Huston said.

According to data from the PA Department of Education, Bancroft has 73 percent minority enrollment.

“This school should stay open, do what you have to do. It is your highest minority population school. Keep it open. Fight to keep it open. It’s a community school and the people care about it,” Huston said.

Third-grade teacher Margie Holmes says she’s concerned about students’ safety. Many will have to walk to Tripp, which is much farther from home. She’s also concerned they won’t get the same quality of education.

“Will they receive that direct instruction and the small group instruction that we’re able to provide at Bancroft? The kids who needed that extra reinforcement, they got that. I don’t understand. Right now just being at Tripp the last few weeks how that’s going to happen at such a large school,” Holmes said.

President of the board of directors, Katie Gilmartin, says she understands their concerns and passion for the building, however, the district has to make progress with decreasing their footprint. She also says student demographics were not a factor in the decision, and Scranton schools have a high minority population across the board.

The board of education will consider permanently closing George Bancroft Elementary School at a public meeting Monday at 7 p.m.

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