Closing Perry Middle School will save the school district approximately $865,000 next year and slightly more than $1-million in each successive year, according to Worthington Schools treasurer Jeff McCuen.

Closing Perry Middle School will save the school district approximately $865,000 next year and slightly more than $1-million in each successive year, according to Worthington Schools treasurer Jeff McCuen.

McCuen reported the figure at the May 10 school board meeting.

Parents at three earlier board meetings had requested the figure, and McCuen said he did not know. Then, at a May 7 board retreat, board member David Bressman said it was time the treasurer figured it out.

"To say we don't know comes across as evasive," David Bressman said. "I'm not going to accept 'I don't know' as an answer."

All of the students from the regular program at Perry will be assigned to McCord Middle School next year. Since that announcement in February, many Perry parents have repeatedly asked the board for information and complained about the decision.

"You have simply not convinced me that what you are doing makes dollars and cents," parent Amy Cameron said at the May 10 meeting.

The board decided last August that it would make changes at the middle school level that would save the district $1-million. That decision was part of the process of deciding the size of the levy that was to be placed on the November ballot.

The board had been eying the middle school program for years because the cost per pupil at the middle schools was not only higher than at Worthington's elementary and high schools, but higher than at middle schools in comparable districts.

The Perry building will not close next year, but will continue to house the Phoenix alternative middle school program.

Parents have also repeatedly asked the cost of the Phoenix program, but have not received an answer in public.

McCuen said the $865,000 and $1-million figure cover the savings from certified staff reductions. Eleven teaching positions will be eliminated.

The average Worthington teacher earns $72,000 a year, plus benefits equal to an additional 30 percent, for a total of $96,300. Multiplied by 11 full-time-equivalent positions, the total is $105,930.

The $865,000 that will be saved next year takes into account that 3.5 of those positions will not be covered by attrition. The people holding those positions will be reduced in force, or "riffed."

According to the terms of the teachers' contract, teachers who are riffed have two options.

They can choose to leave work and receive all health benefits and half of their salaries for one year, at which point they will no longer be employed by the district.

The second choice is to continue health coverage and work as pool substitutes. Pool substitutes earn $100 a day and must work 180 days.

There will also be classified positions eliminated when Perry closes, but McCuen said he did not know how much savings would result.

There will also be costs involved, including the cost of building walls to divide rooms to create extra classrooms at McCord. That would be a one-time cost and McCuen said he did not know what it would be.