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Katonah-Lewisboro Parents Propose New School Redistricting Option

Edward Burt (second from right, front) has a third and sixth grader, and a three-year-old at home. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Edward Burt voices frustration about the proposed redistricting of some Increase Miller students in the event the school board approves closing of Lewisboro Elementary.
Edward Burt voices frustration about the proposed redistricting of some Increase Miller students in the event the school board approves closing of Lewisboro Elementary. Video Credit: Brian Donnelly
Parents make their case for why sending Increase Miller kids to Katonah Elementary would have a negative impact. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Katonah-Lewisboro School Board members Stephanie Tobin and Peter Treyz field questions and ideas from Increase Miller parents. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Jon Monti is an Increase Miller parent and special education teacher. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Former Assemblyman Robert Castelli, of Golden's Bridge, moderated the forum. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

GOLDENS BRIDGE, N.Y.  – Edward Burt’s third-grade son may have to change schools in the fall if the Katonah-Lewisboro school board decides to close an elementary school when it votes on the matter Thursday, Jan. 23.

He isn’t alone. The Increase Miller Elementary School parent was one of dozens to attend a forum on the matter Wednesday night, moderated by Goldens Bridge resident and former Assemblyman Robert Castelli.

Mirjana Jovanovic, a mother of two at Increase Miller, asked the two Katonah-Lewisboro school board members present to consider an alternative option to moving 94 students to Katonah Elementary. Since the school runs below capacity, she proposed letting those students stay at Increase Miller and send new and incoming students to Katonah.

The idea caught steam with the board members and parents. Other parents suggested to let just those in fourth and fifth grades finish out their time at Increase Miller.

The school board formed a School Closure Task Force in June to investigate the possibility of closing one or two elementary schools in response to enrollment that has dropped by 700-plus students since 2006. The task force decided closing Lewisboro Elementary would disrupt the fewest students possible and created a redistricting plan that spread the 300-plus students across the remaining three schools.

However, Lewisboro Elementary parents asked the board to alter its redistricting plan to send their kids to only two schools. By sending them in larger groups parents argued this would prevent some students from being torn apart from their friends.

Tobin said the board agreed and the administration develop a second scenario, in which some Increase Miller kids would be redistricted to Katonah Elementary to even out the distribution among the three remaining schools. This, Burt said, would send students, including his son, to Katonah alone, without any of their friends.

“You listened to them, well you should listen to us,” Burt said. “You agreed with them, now here’s the other side of it.”

The other side of it left Burt and scores of parents filling the small room in the Lewisboro Recreation and Parks Building debating which redistricting scenario they prefer, each choosing the one that would impact their child least. Most parents supported Jovanovic’s idea because it would keep their kids together.

The first scenario would give Increase Miller 470 students, Katonah 490 and Meadow Pond 426. The second scenario would give Increase Miller 467, Katonah 472 and Meadow Pond 447.

The second scenario also comes with a lower savings total at $1.74 million, down from $1.89 million.

Tobin said she will bring the parents’ third scenario to the board at its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, where they are scheduled to discuss which scenario is best. If four of the seven agree the phasing in, or grandfather clause should be looked into, the administration will do so, she said.

A public hearing on the school closing is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 16 and the final vote is Thursday, Jan. 23.

Parents may email all seven school board members, the superintendent and assistant superintendents ahead of the meeting Thursday, which will be held at the John Jay High School library on 60 Cross River Road, Cross River.

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