School boards regularly make unpopular decisions -- from raising taxes to changing bus routes.
Usually, residents grumble and move on.
Or, in some particularly heated cases, they'll clean house in the next school board election.
But when the Dover Area school board voted last year to close a beloved elementary school, it led to a civil war, with a group of Washington Township residents launching a plan to secede from the district.
They say they want to send their children to Northern York School District, a closer district with slightly better state test scores and a lower property-tax rate.
The Washington Township Education Coalition formed last year after board members approved the closure of the 60-year-old Kralltown Elementary. Those students now attend North Salem Elementary, a more modern building that's farther away.
At about 110 students, Kralltown was one of the smallest schools in all of York County, yet the most expensive in the Dover Area School District. It cost $10,000 per student to run, compared to $7,000 per student at Weigelstown Elementary School, Superintendent Robert Krantz said at the time.
Also, the building was old and in need of about $7 million in repairs. On the other hand, closing the school saved the district about $359,000.
But because of its history and intimate size, it held a special place in the hearts of Washington Township residents.
In fact, coalition spokesman Ralph McGregor said, township residents only agreed to join the district 60 years ago on the condition it build Kralltown Elementary for their children.
We understand why they're upset.
But a lot has changed over the years, and districts are now struggling with funding cuts and property tax caps.
Hard decisions are being made all over the state -- teachers are being laid off and programs are being cut.
And Dover isn't the only local district to close a school to save money. The York City School District this year closed two, in fact.
That decision also didn't sit well with all city residents, but no one suggested joining another district.
And they wouldn't have had to look far to find a much better-performing district with far, far lower taxes. Residents on the west side could have easily eyed West York Area School District, northerners might have found Central a better choice and south- and east-siders probably would have preferred York Suburban.
But that's not happening, possibly because they know the state Department of Education has to sign off on such plans and also because the neighboring school districts don't have to take them.
Perhaps also because it would lead to chaos.
Imagine if every time a school board ticked off a group of residents, those residents bolted. We'd be drawing new district boundaries every year.
Which is why, we suspect, the members of the Washington Township Education Coalition have an uphill climb ahead of them.