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Clarksville debate paints social divide

A small group of parents brought their concerns over enrollment and multi-age classes at the Clarksville Elementary School to the Bethlehem Board of Education on Wednesday, June 17.

Parents told the board they didn't think their children's best interests were being taken into account and the small rural school was being treated unequally in the district. After an intense two-hour debate over the issue, Superintendent Michael Tebbano said he would form a committee to reach a solution to the enrollment problem that is creating many multi-age classrooms.

A number of comments made to the board depicted Clarksville as an unpopular elementary school among town residents.

One parent said a couple he knew looked at a house in the neighborhood but didn't buy it because they didn't want their kids to go to Clarksville, a sentiment echoed by another parent in the crowd.

Martin Gordinier, a parent who has been vocal about the Clarksville situation in recent weeks, claimed at the meeting that realtors lied to

parents in the Fisher Boulevard development about what school district they were in.

"When we found out later on it was Clarksville everyone was up in arms, and the irony is we all love Clarksville," he said. Gordinier said he graduated from Voorheesville, which he described as good, but small, and that cliques followed students throughout their careers.

Gordinier said the board would have to make "the hard decisions," which he said may include evaluating if Clarksville was still economically viable for the district.

Board of Education President James Lytle, who is stepping down from the board in July, said if what was being said was true, that he was bothered with the notion of a "genuine public perception that there's actually something wrong with the quality of education at Clarksville."

Parents have been saying they are dissatisfied with the low enrollment at Clarksville and the prospect of having multi-age classrooms indefinitely. Some have pointed to the new Eagle Elementary School as part of the reason and others have said they have brought these issues up in the past and nothing was done.

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