In a contentious 4-3 vote, the Holland School Board on Monday agreed to keep using the middle school building for administration only and concentrate any renovation efforts on the elementary and high school campus on Canada Street. That includes the possibility of adding classrooms.
The motion put forward by board President Steven Marom drew fire from board members Kelleen Kensey, Joseph Levesque and Larry Krzeminski, who favored closing the elementary school. They also expressed frustration that the board was being asked to make the decision on short notice.
“We’ve been kicking this around for years now. Let’s stop floundering around and just do it,” Marom responded.
Kensey, however, was irked by the suddenness of the motion, noting there had been only one meeting of the facilities committee on the matter before it was brought to the board.
“You know you have your four votes,” she snapped. “Is this discussion falling on deaf ears?”
The district began reconfiguration talks last year after an analysis showed the district could be $2 million in the red within a few years. The board originally planned to close the elementary building and house all students in the middle and high schools, but the publicly unpopular decision was reversed last year when elections altered the board’s makeup and ousted former Superintendent Dennis Johnson before his contract expired.
In what some thought a temporary measure, the Harold O. Brumsted Elementary School became a prekindergarten through sixth-grade building, and the high school a seventh- through 12th-grade building. The middle school housed offices.
Monday’s resolution, which solidifies the move as a permanent one, also asks the district to explore efforts to move the superintendent and business offices into the elementary school and the curriculum and special-education offices into the high school to further reduce the middle school’s energy footprint.
A second motion, also passed 4-3, asked the superintendent to explore the feasibility of adding two rooms at the elementary school, where about $1 million in upgrades will likely be necessary. However, Marom said that is less than the $2 million in reconstruction the middle school would need – work that would be ineligible for state aid because students are no longer housed there.