LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Parents continued to question the Katonah-Lewisboro School District’s approach to possibly closing Lewisboro Elementary School (LES) in the second School Closure Task Force public hearing in John Jay Middle School on Monday.
Fresh off the heels of a tension-filled school board meeting on Thursday, Oct.17, parents once again vented concerns of the potential impact closing one of the district’s four elementary schools would have on students, the district, and the community as a whole.
Signs of “We Are Just Not Ready” and “Say No to 2014” in attendance, both pleading that – at the very least – the district should continue its evaluation process for one more year, while keeping the school open, before making any final decisions.
“It seems to be a lot about the numbers right now, but have you thought about whether or not closing LES would be improving the school district?” LES parent Michelle Zaken asked. “Where is that extra two million dollars going?”
Throughout the district's dialogue of looking into the closure of LES, it has referenced “efficiency” as one of its main motivators. Many parents are baffled by this, as the savings the closure would save is projected to fall somewhere in between $2,250,000 and $2,960,000 per year (out of a budget that current approaches $115,000,000). This would only save taxpayers somewhere between one and two hundred dollars annually.
“It is not that the two million dollars is going somewhere specifically,” Rich Stone, School Closure Task Force member, said. “It’s the fact that we can’t continue to afford going down the path we’re going down.”
Despite the public’s response, all indications are that the district will indeed make its decision on Thursday, Jan. 23. The Task Force, led by board member Janet Harckham, is working toward making its final recommendation to the Board of Education on Thursday, Dec. 19.
Stone began Monday’s public hearing by emphasizing that the district’s process has been thorough. He also tried to dismiss the notion that district officials have not been transparent in its process.
“I want to remind everyone that this process started more than a year ago when a different committee was put together to decide whether or not one or two schools could be closed,” he said. “That committee decided if it was going to be any school, it would be Lewisboro. Now committee is investigating that possibility. We’re not done. No recommendation has been given to the board yet.”
“We have worked with an eye on transparency and openness – and I believe that has been the case,” he added.
The final two Task Force meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.