Beallsville High School Looks To Compete for Students in Monroe County

Photo by Janell Hunter Switzerland of Ohio Local School District Superintendent Jeffrey Greenley and Beallsville High School Head Football Coach Larry Deem discuss plans for the school’s new fieldhouse in the school’s current “locker room” facility.

Beallsville High School Head Football Coach Larry Deem said he has already seen positive returns since Switzerland of Ohio Local School District officials have committed $1 million for athletic facility upgrades.

The board of education recently committed $2.6 million toward upgrades in athletic facilities of all three of the districts high schools due to a recent increase in oil and gas revenue generated by Public Utility Personal Property taxes. The Beallsville Blue Devils are planning on using their share of the money for a new fieldhouse to be constructed next to the Blue Devils’ stadium, as well as new baseball and softball fields at the new K-12 school location.

“It’s a step in the right direction, and hopefully the kids are starting to see it, too. We will have what we are supposed to have. We could ask for more, but we are glad with what we have,” Deem said. “As of right now, this is the first year we don’t have any eighth graders open-enrolled out of Beallsville for the first time since I’ve been here.”

The current building being used as the “home locker room” for the Blue Devils is a two-room trailer with one restroom and no hot water. The roof and windows leak during a hard rain. Before home football games, visiting teams use one room as a locker room and the other is used by the Blue Devils.

Deem said the new field house will have locker rooms with showers and hot water, a weight room, and a wrestling room.

Superintendent Jeffrey Greenley said the district is trying hard to compete against other districts for students, as the district lost 410 open enrollment students across the district in the 2016-17 year. He feels students are leaving the district because significant capital investments have not been made in athletic facilities in the last couple of decades. The district currently has a total of 2,083 students.

“There is a legitimate business reason to invest in our campuses. Every year we lose 102 students to Barnesville, and in 2016 we also lost another 102 to Shadyside,” Greenley said. “We receive $6,000 per student, and if I keep 50 kids from leaving the district for three years, we make our full investment back. I don’t think they’re going to come back, but if I can keep them from going there in the first place is the goal. … We want to compete for our kids, and we have to invest in these programs to keep them.”

Greenley referred to the competition between schools for students as an “arms race.” With oil and gas revenue currently coming into the district, he believes it is the wisest decision to invest it in capital assets that will provide lasting upgrades to the district’s campuses to keep students within the district.

Greenley emphasized that since the political decision was made to keep a school in Beallsville, the district has a responsibility to help it remain viable, and something that students, parents and the community can have pride in.

“We have to have a campus here in Beallsville because we would never be able to afford to transport the students to the other campuses. It would never work,” Greenley said. “If we closed Beallsville, they would all go to Barnesville. If we lost all those students, what’s the economics of that?”

Greenley said the district has spent an estimated $948,000 on academic materials in the last 15 months, and plans to invest another $160,000 to $200,000 in the near future.

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