Kenmore Middle School would close but could gain new life as an administration building under each of four reorganization plans under consideration by the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board.
One to two elementary schools would be shuttered in each plan, and the entire district would be reorganized, according to the study of four possible consolidation options released Thursday afternoon.
While the plans had been outlined previously, this is the first glimpse parents and teachers have of which elementary schools might be closed in the district, which is struggling with declining enrollment and increasing costs.
The potential savings under the plans range from $3.73 million to $6.54 million a year, while the reduction in staff could be as little as 65 or more than 100.
The plans will be discussed at forums Thursday and March 31, and the School Board could choose an option April 1.
“I’m not interested in cutting the heart out of the district,” School Board President Bob Dana said. “Anytime you’re closing schools, there are emotional issues.”
“The goal was not to go in and try and see how many could close,” Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro said. “It really was more so reorganizing in the district.”
The possible scenarios:
• Close Hamilton Elementary and Kenmore Middle, the high schools remain as they are, and current grade level configurations remain. It would save $3.73 million in one year and would be implemented in the 2015-16 school year.
• Close Hamilton Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary and Kenmore Middle, and transform each high school into grades eight through 12. Franklin Middle and Hoover Middle would house grades five through seven, and pre-K through grade four would be housed at the other elementary schools. This would save $4.81 million a year and would be implemented in the 2016-17 school year.
• Close Roosevelt Elementary, Edison Elementary and Kenmore Middle, while Kenmore East and West high schools become junior-senior high schools with grades seven through 12. Hoover Middle and Franklin Middle are reconfigured to pre-K through sixth grade, and two pre-K through sixth grade “specialty or themed” schools, such as an International Baccalaureate program, are created. This would save $6.54 million a year and would be implemented in the 2017-18 school year.
• Close Roosevelt Elementary, Edison Elementary and Kenmore Middle. Kenmore West serves grades 10 through 12 while Kenmore East serves grades seven through nine. This would save $6.47 million and would be implemented in the 2017-18 school year.
The plans that would close three schools are projected to decrease the likelihood of additional closings over the next five to 10 years.
The scenario closing two schools is likely to result in additional school closings and redistricting in the next few years, according to the study.
Much of the savings come from the elimination of teaching positions, but not all of those would be layoffs. Retirements are expected to increase in the next several years, and some layoffs would be lessened by program enhancements, according to the study.
Discussion and planning for consolidation has taken place over the last 19 months, and many in the district are expecting closures.
“I know the only thing that is harder to close in a community than a school is a church,” Mondanaro said.
But he said each scenario preserves a community school in the north, south, east, west and center of the district. The plan does recommend moving the administrative offices to Kenmore Middle, which at 91 years old, is one of the oldest schools in the district.
Mondanaro said he hopes the community will understand how hard the work has been in the past months to come up with a model that will take the district into the future.
“There’s a way for the district to right-size, there’s a way for the district to stop cutting, there’s a way for the district to stop raising taxes to the degree it has,” he said.
Board members will be considering a number of factors, including the best use of buildings, and how to use resources efficiently to produce quality programs. But given the current state of school funding, money is an issue.
“Will the savings not only allow us to sustain programs but allow us to maybe bring back some program we’ve had to cut or reduce?” Dana, the board president, said. “Can we look to enhance programs in the future?”
The plans will be discussed at forums for district employees and residents at 4 and 7 p.m. next Thursday in the auditorium of Hoover Middle School, 249 Thorncliff Road; and at the same times March 31 in the auditorium of Kenmore East High School, Brighton and Fries roads.
A special public consolidation work session also is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 1 in Kenmore East’s auditorium. Dana said it is very possible the board could make a decision that night.
He urged residents to study the report and to attend the forums.
“I feel bad we’re putting them through it,” he said, but he added, “I feel we’re offering them something they want to keep.”
The report can be found at www.kenton.k12.ny.us/cms/lib/NY19000262/Centricity/Domain/1/Consolidation%20Final%20Report%203.20.14.pdf