Katonah-Lewisboro May Close Schools To Save Money

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The Katonah-Lewisboro School District is considering closing up to two of its schools. Photo Credit: File Photo

KATONAH, N.Y. -- Faced with declining enrollment, the Katonah-Lewisboro School District is discussing closing one of its schools.

The district is currently studying the process, having formed a school utilization committee. A report will be issued to the school board Dec. 19 and the board will make a decision Jan. 23.

The district might close two elementary schools, one, or none at all. It has not been decided what schools would close.

"We've gone through a long process and had a number of meetings," said Janet Harckham, school board trustee and chair of the committee.

The committee has met with the administration, principals, parents and people without children in the district.

"We looked at the district and our buildings and we want to deliver the best education for our students," Harckham said.

Harckham said it is important children do not change schools too many times or else they could get lost in the shuffle.

The district also is facing fiscal constraints as it deals with rising pension costs while having to approve budgets subject to the 2 percent state cap on the tax levy.

"It was a consensus of the committee to close at least one school," Harckham said. "There was not a consensus to close two."

The board will have at least four hearings on the issue, including one Aug. 27. Harckham said the district has to look at how they would re-purpose a closed school and factor in transportation costs.

"I don't know what school; there is no obvious choice at the moment," Hackham said.

The decision to close schools is based on the declining population of the district. By 2016, the district's population will dip below 3,000.

"It's unnerving," Harckham said. "It's our fiduciary responsibility to not run the district inefficiently. We have to deliver the best education at the least possible cost."

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