There will likely be at least two public hearings before the state Board of Education rules whether Washington Township residents can leave the Dover Area School District.
The department ruled earlier this month that the petition from township residents to leave the Dover district has educational merit, which means the petition will go back to court and will likely appear before the board of education for a final decision.
The York County Court of Common Pleas needs to review the decision made by the education department and establish the township as an independent district for the purpose of transferring to a new school district, which in this case would be the Northern York County School District.
Court ruling: That step is largely procedural, said Steve Fisher, the department's director of school services and advisor to the deputy secretary of education. Fisher said he can't remember any cases that didn't go on to the state board of education.
The township, Dover, and the Northern district all offered data and were given a chance to state any concerns regarding the transfer in the original report by the education department, Fisher said.
If the board approves the change, Northern will have no choice but to accommodate the students, he added.
But as part of the final approval process, the board of education will hold public hearings in both of the school districts, Fisher said.
That will be an opportunity for the districts to restate any concerns, and also a time when people who disagree with the petitioners can speak to the board.
Stay in Dover: That group includes Washington Township resident Holly Feeser, a Dover alumna who wants to see her children graduate from Dover, too.
Feeser said she understands the community's frustration about Dover's decision to close Kralltown Elementary in 2011; it was the only district school in the township.
But the former Kralltown teachers are now at New Salem Elementary, the Dover school her three children attend.
Feeser and a few other parents have formed a group called Keep us In Dover Schools — or KIDS for short.
The group formed as a response to the Washington Township Education Coalition's efforts to leave the district.
"We built homes and moved into the township specifically to be in the Dover school district," Feeser said.
All about taxes: The educational offerings of the two districts are similar, Feeser said, and she suspects many township residents only signed the petition because the coalition promised lower taxes if they were to change school districts.
"They think they're going to get a big fat check in the mail," Feeser said.
With the final budgets passed for the 2014-15, residents living in the Dover Area district have a property tax of 21.93 mills, while Northern has a millage rate of 15.63.
The education department rules on about two petitions per year, Fisher said.
Of those cases, about half are successful in the petition to change school districts, he said.