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June 24, 2013

Portlandville School closing ended a country tradition

It was considered a last remnant of the country school of yesterday in our region, as the Portlandville School closed its doors for the last time on Friday, June 24, 1983. It ended a more than three-quarter century era of the place where kids learned their “three R’s.”

“No longer will the familiar yellow school buses wend their way up the hill, discharging first-, second- and third-graders in the pastoral setting,” The Daily Star reported the next day.

The school, now privately owned and still seen today on Schoolhouse Hill Road, came to be due to the rising floodwaters from the construction of the Goodyear Lake Dam. In one of Sandra Martin Bullard’s volumes on the history of the Town of Milford, a picture of what was Portlandville School #3 was condemned in 1906. On a map it was seen on the east side of the bridge over the Susquehanna, on a road to the railroad depot. The new school was built on higher ground.

By September 1983, the 80-plus elementary students were taught in two mobile classrooms on the grounds of the Milford Central School in Milford.

Mrs. Aulis Waters, then president of the Milford school board, said it was not economically feasible for the district to continue to operate the Portlandville School.

“It needed a lot of repairs,” she said. “We just didn’t think it made sense for us to put money into the building that we felt it needed.”

Paul Mendelsohn, a third grade teacher at the school said he had mixed feelings about the closing.

“We lack a library, that’s the biggest thing. Any kind of proper first aid service from a nurse. There are communications problems. But as I packed up for the last time, I thought about the real advantages of being here. It’s nice and quiet. You can coordinate things quickly with only three other teachers who are willing to cooperate.”

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