On Jan. 14, the Wissahickon School Board voted, with recommendation from district administration, to close Mattison Ave Elementary in Ambler Borough.
Resposes from residents and officials involved in the situation have been both pragmatic and emotional from plans on transitioning the students to complaints on the reasoning for closing the school, to concern for students being uprooted, to feeling “lied” to.’
First, parents and administration are dealing with the children who won’t be returning to Mattison Ave next year.
“We expressed to the children that while change makes everyone a little nervous and scared, it is really a chance for a new adventure,” Mattison Ave Principal wrote in an e-mail, according to the Ambler Gazette. “We talked with the students about how they felt on their first day of kindergarten. They all felt nervous and anxious on their first day of school, but it was so much fun to make new friends and learn new things! Next year will be just like that!”
Ambler Borough officials have stated disappointment with the news, and are entertaining the possibility of petitioning the district to revert to a ward system within the Wissahickon School Board to ensure Ambler representation.
"Since we don't have any representation (on the school board), can we not force them to have three members from Ambler on there like there always was?" Ambler Councilman Sal Pasceri said at the borough’s Jan. 16 meeting. "We're paying taxes; we have no representation. Can we say we're not going to pay school taxes anymore because we're not represented?"
One of the strongest responses from the Mattison Ave supporters is a need to change leadership on the Wissachickon School Board.
“I would first like to thank the three board members who voted 'no' during the vote to permanently close our school - Dick Stanton, Barbara Ullery and Burunda Prince-Jones,” Mattison supporter Karen Palmer said in an Ambler Patch blog. “Thank you for listening. You understand that data does not tell the whole story. Forgive us as we mend our wounds and be assured we will not forget your support when you need ours.”
Challengers are being lined up for the school board members who voted for the closure – Young K. Park, Janice Singer, Charles McIntyre, Marjorie Brown, Barbara Moyer, and Seth Grant.
Some parents have gone so as to take their contempt with certain school board members personal.
"And if you have businesses, we'll boycott them, too," a mother shouted during the Jan. 14 meeting, according to Philly.com.
Other residents have suggested that parents take a step back from the loss.
“I know it is sad and our hopes were crushed and we are concerned for the children,” said a local parent on the “Supporters of Mattison” Facebook page. “In my experience, children are resilient and change is NOT always bad. Now that the decision is made, and will be forced upon you, try as best as you can to focus on the positive.
“Do this for your own sake but, mostly, for the sake of your children. They will follow your lead. If you're angry, resentful and immovable to change, your children will follow your example.
“It's not easy to focus on the good things that can come from change but it's worth it for your children.”