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The state's Board of Education voted at a meeting Thursday morning to disapprove of a Washington Township petition to transfer from Dover Area schools to Northern York School District.

The vote must go through one more round of final approval before it is made final. It's not clear when a meeting finalizing the decision will be held. If the decision stands, Washington Township Independent School District will be granted a final hearing if requested.

The vote follows Wednesday's special committee meeting on the proposal, in which all committee members recommended against the transfer. Larry Wittig, board chairman, served as one of five members on the special committee.

The Washington Township Education Coalition's petition began more than three years ago, citing better educational opportunities in Northern York and a closer vicinity to the schools for many of the approximately 300 students in the township. The petition came together soon after the closing of Kralltown Elementary School, the only Dover school within Washington Township's borders.

The 17-page report compiled by the special committee outlined its reasons for not recommending the transfer, including neither school district's educational program proving to be vastly superior for the majority of its students and a belief that Washington Township's request was highly motivated by Northern York's lower property taxes.

Coalition members expressed disappointment with the committee's conclusions during the public comment portion of Wednesday's meeting.

"If you look at the vast data we prepared — it's your data — Northern (York) shows significantly higher results on a consistent basis," Joe Sieber, president of the coalition, said to the committee members. "You're saying that doesn't matter."

Members of Keep Us In Dover Schools (KIDS), meanwhile, were "elated" by the committee's report, thanking the members for "securing our children's future."

KIDS member Holly Feeser, a Washington Township mother of three, said: "This was everything, remaining in out home district, staying with the same teachers, same activities and not disrupting our family as well as those of 300 other students to go to a school with very similar academics. It was common sense to stay where we're at."

Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover) was also pleased with the committee's recommendation, as the loss of revenue and taxes could've resulted in a $1.8 million tax increase for Dover residents and potential job losses for Dover teachers, both of which the committee addressed in its report.

"I am very happy for the students, parents, teachers, administration and taxpayers of Dover SD," Grove wrote in a statement following the board's vote. "I believe we can now put this past us and focus on being Dover Proud!"

—Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.

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