SAVOY -- Following unequivocal action by voters in consecutive town elections, the future of Emma L. Miller Elementary School appears secure for now, according to North Berkshire School Union Superintendent Jonathan Lev.
In addition, the tiny mountain school's low teacher-student ratio and recognized quality of education may be creating a modest influx of students through school choice, he said.
Enrollment at the end of the school year "is still basically the same," standing at 41 in the pre-school through fifth grade elementary school.
"It is always tough," Lev said, "but we had the budget pass at town meeting, and we certainly plan to keep going."
The political situation in Savoy also has cleared over the past year, as far as the school is concerned. Lev said that helps in retaining teachers and in bolstering the school's image in the eyes of parents with children in larger schools who feel their off-spring aren't getting enough attention.
Former members of the Board of Selectmen, citing a declining enrollment and rising costs, two years ago explored the idea of closing the school and sending elementary students to the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.
However, one board member lost in the May 2012 election to a write-in candidate, and two others promptly quit, citing what they called a "nasty" atmosphere in town politics. New board members subsequently were elected in a special August election to fill out a reconstituted board.
In the town election this spring, a former board member failed to win a new term running against the man who had defeated him in 2012.
The current board "is more supportive of the school," Lev said, adding, "Sometimes it just works out that way."
He said he's also encouraged that there are seven choice students coming from other districts next year, compared to an average of four or five. One reason, Lev said, is that parents are aware of the small classes and individual attention -- especially when compared to city schools with several hundred students.
In an interview during the school year, teacher Karalee Deherrera described a youngster who came from a school with more than 500 students with emotional and educational issues but was thriving at Miller Elementary.
"His mom always says to me: ‘This school saved his life,''' Deherrera said.
She said the boy's mother "moved him here because she felt his former school was not really dealing with his issues. She felt he needed more one-on-one attention."
The Savoy school has a pre-school class, a kindergarten-first grade combined class, a second-third grade class, and a fourth-fifth grade class. There is a teacher for each combined grade, a part-time teacher and two para-educators. One position is a teaching principal position.
Older Savoy students are tuitioned to middle school in the town of Florida -- at another North Berkshire Union school -- and later to Hoosac Valley High School in Cheshire. The total education budget for all town students is $788,633 for next year, Lev said.
As to the cost for Savoy's approximately 700 residents, he said, "It is hard to understand, but you don't really save much money if the school is closed, and you lose all control of decisions."
He added: "How would you put a price on having to take the bus to Adams every day, or say, having 25 kids in a class, compared to nine?"
Children with special needs also can expect more attention from a teacher or other staff member, Lev said. "How do you put dollar figures on that?"
But he acknowledges that the Savoy school will always be walking a fiscal tightrope because of its size. "With the number of kids we have, it is working," the superintendent said.
One factor is not, however, in doubt, he said: Those with children in Miller Elementary and other supporters have sent "a very strong message that they want that school."