A proposition to close Alden Primary School and enlarge the middle school to accommodate those students went down in flames in a record-turnout capital project vote Thursday.
Alden Central School District residents voted, 1,772 to 241, against the school consolidation proposition, despite school district officials’ assertion that the move could save the district $230,800 annually and would lead to no new taxes.
“We’ve never had more than 2,000 people come out for any kind of vote,” said School Board President Paul Hutschenreuter, “so to see those numbers come out the way they did, it was a shock.”
Because of an ongoing decline in enrollment, the construction and renovation needs of the district’s three school buildings, and the district’s ongoing budget challenges, district officials said it would have been irresponsible for them not to put this kind of cost-savings plan before voters.
The plan called for closing the Primary School, which serves children in kindergarten through grade third, and accommodating those children in the middle school building, which serves grades four through eight.
The middle school building would have be expanded with the construction a six-classroom addition. The district also attempted to ease resident concerns by keeping separate bus runs for the younger children and reconfiguring traffic patterns.
Five different community meetings were held between October and March to help shape and share information about the consolidation proposal.
Many opponents, however, were skeptical of the district’s cost savings and enrollment numbers and were stridently opposed to the idea of closing their Primary School building, which they considered a unique environment.
A second proposition, to install synthetic turf on what is now the district’s football field, also failed, 196 to 1,807. That proposition was contingent on the consolidation proposition passing.