There are 18 pages in a report on possible consolidation scenarios for the Ken-Ton School District detailing those options.
But the dozens of residents who attended Wednesday’s meeting featuring the report by SES Study Team were steered to the beginning of the 75-page document, to learn about the numbers – building capacity, enrollment and community demographics – behind the eight options.
Wednesday night’s gathering in Kenmore East High School was the first of four public sessions for members of the Canastota-based team to present their study, which began last summer. Another session will be held at 7 p.m. today in the Franklin Middle School auditorium; two more will be held next week.
The report that was presented is the only report, said Paul Seversky of SES Study Team. “The [School] Board doesn’t have something different. Mark [Mondanaro, school superintendent,] doesn’t have something different,” he said.
Seversky was joined Wednesday night by teammates Doug Exley and Sam Shevat.
The study was undertaken to learn how the district, whose shrinking student population is spread among 13 schools, could run more efficiently while preserving and increasing student opportunity in the changed economy. A focus group will debate and prioritize the eight scenarios to be presented to the School Board for possible action.
A starting point toward finding answers was local class size guidelines. “That class size guideline is what prevails and guides the whole study,” Seversky said.
Data showed that even when maximum class sizes were used in calculating capacity in the buildings in 2012-13, the unused capacity averaged 18.8 percent in the eight elementary schools; 43.5 percent in the three middle schools; and 38.8 percent in the two high schools.
“It shows that you have more pupil capacity than your current enrollment needs,” said Seversky.
Class size inequities aren’t a reflection of poor resource allocation but the attendance zones, he noted. Each elementary school is considered its own attendance zone.
It’s no secret that enrollment has been steadily declining for years; the current enrollment of 7,370 is down by 171 from the year before, according to figures supplied by an out-of-state consultant used by the district.
SES used the consultant’s highest projection – out of three – in its study. Those have total enrollment dipping below 7,000 by 2017-18.
“If all those kids show up, you better be ready for them,” Seversky said.
But federal census demographic data, comparing the school district to Erie County as a whole, shows the district has a smaller population of youngsters under 5; a higher median age; and a higher population of residents 65 and older.
The scenarios range from maintaining the status quo to combinations of school closures and consolidations.
“These scenarios are not prioritized; there’s no priority to them whatsoever,” Exley said.