COLONIE: Two become one

In a strong showing Thursday, Oct. 11, residents voted in favor of North Colonie Central School District's annexation of Maplewood Colonie Common School.

Maplewood, a kindergarten- through-eighth-grade school, will become North Colonie's seventh elementary school. Under the annexation agreement, the school will remain open for at least seven to 10 years before North Colonie officials will choose to keep open or close the more than 100-year-old school.

North Colonie residents voted in favor of the annexation, 1,232- to-248. Maplewood residents voted 214-to-29 in favor.

Beginning next fall, Maplewood's seventh and eighth graders will enter Shaker Junior High School, as Maplewood moves to a kindergarten-through-sixth-grade format.

The schools will officially become one on July 1, 2008. Maplewood will keep its name, staff, colors and its insignia, the maple leaf.

Is it bittersweet? It's more sweet than bitter. I think it's a rebirth for Maplewood, said Jerome Steele, Maplewood principal, superintendent and business manager. Under the agreement, Steele will now be known as Maplewood principal. It's a title he welcomes.

"The biggest loss for us is that seventh and eighth grade will no longer be part of the school," said Steele.

But the annexation was about the students, he said.

Under the agreement those students will have access to resources that trump what the small hamlet school could provide as it struggled with double-digit tax increases to meet the rising costs of doing business during the past several years. It was the reason the district sat down with North Colonie last year.

Now Maplewood students will have access to countless after-school programs and athletics at a fraction of the cost.

Logistically, the transition will keep the school's staff of 14 full-time teachers and as many as four part-time, Steele said. Teachers also stand to see pay increases as well as extracurricular programs for teachers.

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