A school consolidation study under way in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District is now in the hands of its board, with the release Monday of a consultant’s final report.
The report by SES Study Team of Canastota, the consulting firm hired by the School Board in August to explore the possibility of a districtwide consolidation, includes input by a focus group of 88 members of the community, which met June 8 in a daylong session.
Of the eight scenarios presented by SES, the one ranked highest by the group would close Holmes Elementary and Kenmore Middle School, with the possibility of future closures if enrollment continues to decline, for an estimated savings of $1,336,378.
“I think what the focus group is telling us is: For the most part, the majority of people would like to see us do less damage by closing only one or two schools in the beginning and leaving the flexibility to move with more if we need to down the line,” said board President Bob Dana.
Monday’s report lists the “opportunities” and “challenges” of each scenario that the focus group identified. The focus group’s preferred scenario – Option G – includes smaller class sizes and the continued value of “neighborhood schools” as opportunities. Among the challenges are the redesign of transportation routes and the future of closed buildings, whether they would be mothballed or repurposed.
The report also lists the number of focus group members from each of the district’s eight elementary attendance zones and the number who applied for a spot: Nine of 18 applicants were chosen from Edison; seven of 10 from Franklin; nine of 15 from Hamilton; five of seven from Holmes; eight of 11 from Hoover; nine of 11 from Jefferson; 14 of 44 from Lindbergh, and three of three from Roosevelt.
Board members have declined to reveal their opinions on specific scenarios until SES completed its work.
“I’ve got the report now, I’ve heard what people have to say,” Dana said. “I haven’t heard everything, but now I’m starting to think.”
Next in the district’s consolidation timeline is a special board meeting with the focus group July 23 in the Philip Sheridan Building’s Community Room.
Consolidation work sessions will be held July 25 at Kenmore East High School and Aug. 6 in the Community Room.
Dana said he expects to hear from supporters and detractors of all the scenarios.
“I think we’re going to hear everything,” he said.
“It’s going to be an interesting meeting.”