Updated 05/21/2012 10:55 PM
Liverpool considers closing elementary school
Parents, students and teachers in Liverpool are waiting to find out if their school will close. Members of Liverpool's Building Utilization Committee presented their proposal for closing an elementary school in the coming years to the full board of education Monday night. Our Katie Gibas lays out the proposed plan and tells us what schools are on the chopping block.
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LIVERPOOL, N.Y. -- Liverpool students and teachers could be moving around the district as soon as 2014. Monday night, the board of education discussed a proposal to close an elementary school.
"This whole thing started out because we were looking for a way to academically increase the opportunities for our kids. If you never change anything, the chances of things getting a little bit better are that much less," said Patricia DeBona-Rosier, the Liverpool Board of Education President.
Under the plan drafted by the Building Utilization Committee, either Nate Perry, Donlin Drive or Longbranch Elementary would close. But district officials say that can only happen if they reconfigure their grades and move sixth graders out of the elementary schools and into the middle schools. That would mean an additional middle school would have to be formed.
“One of the big important things in this district is the concept of neighborhood schools. If we were to do this, it's possible to have two elementary schools feed into each one of the four middle schools, which would then give kids a sense of community from K through eight instead of K through six, which is what we currently have," said DeBona-Rosier.
The location of that fourth middle school would be at the annex, where ninth graders take classes right now. Those students would become part of the main high school building. And the former Wetzel Road Elementary building at the high school campus would be used as overflow space.
"They'll be creating a lot of traveling students and traveling teachers and I just don't think that makes for a good education to have kids having to go between buildings all day long," said Sharon Yager, a Liverpool parent.
The proposal seemed to raise more questions than answers for many of the board members. As for parents and taxpayers, they say after approving a tax increase this year, now is not the time logistically or financially to consider such a proposal.
"I have a large concern. We just don't have money. Our taxpayers are strapped. Our seniors are strapped. It's a very difficult time to be making changes. Redistricting is a need. I think we need to watch the enrollment and perhaps to look to close a school. But now is not the time. We can't do it. The numbers are still too high to close a building," said Yager.
The total cost would be more than $8 million. About $1.5 million would be funded by local tax payers.
No official decision has been made on the proposal. The one thing board of education members could agree on is that a 2013 deadline isn't feasible.
The board will continue to discuss the proposal at its next two meetings. Members hope to have a decision by the end of June.