SALAMANCA – The Seneca Nation of Indians has unveiled proposed plans to use a school slated to be mothballed this summer, as negotiations on the sale of the Salamanca School District property continue.
Michael Kimelberg, chief planner for the Nation, said the old Seneca Elementary School would be used for the Nation’s Early Childhood Learning Center, which is currently housed on the Allegany Territory campus that includes the Seneca Health Department and administration buildings. Space at the current facility is insufficient, he said.
Kimelberg addressed a public forum on the issue Tuesday evening in the Allegany Territory administration building.
The Early Childhood Learning Center has a waiting list, he said, adding that “the purchase of this property would alleviate that problem.”
The learning center currently accommodates as many as 88 children, officials said, with 60 children on a waiting list. The old elementary school also could be used for Seneca offices and cultural education facilities. The new facility would be called the Seneca Learning Center, Kimelberg said.
The school is on 9.78 acres that could be used to develop a walking trail and offer students a chance to learn about Seneca culture through nature.
The trail would connect with the Pennsy Trail, a dormant railroad line through Salamanca that has been converted into a walking and hiking trail.
Salamanca City School Superintendent Robert Breidenstein was at the forum to offer details about the closing of the school and the proposed sale.
Seneca Elementary students in third through sixth grades will be assigned to other facilities. Third-graders will move to Prospect Elementary, and fourth- through sixth-graders will move to their own wing of the Junior/Senior High School.
“We, as a leadership team, have made sure that, with the way the floor plan is devised, these students will be in their own area and have no reason to be with other students at higher levels,” Breidenstein said.
“We have the same amount of staffing; there will be no change in class sizes,” he added.
Class sizes average between 16 and 21 students in the district.
A price tag for the old school has yet to be determined.
Breidenstein said packers and movers at the facility are about two weeks ahead of schedule.