Closing schools an option for Schalmont

School district seeking feedback from community on efficiency study

In tough economic times, one school district is looking at the best approach to providing the services the community wants, which might include closing certain facilities.

Three of the scenarios in the study result in closing the Mariaville or Woestina schools and another suggests ending the use of both buildings. Another scenario also suggests combining Mariaville and Woestina attendance zones into one, having kindergarten to second grade served at one building and third to fifth grades served at the other. As the scenarios progress in alphabetical order, the severity of the change is more drastic.

Right now they are just examples of things that could be done, said Schalmont Superintendent Valerie Kelsey. "It is a huge conversation to have with the community, and it is very important that we have that conversation."

The study was done by Advisory Solutions, a consultant group created by the New York State School Boards Association, and looked at the options for school district spanning five years. There are six different scenarios ("A" to "F") presented, ranging from continuing what the district is currently doing to closing schools and combining attendance zones. Each option has the advantages and challenges associated with them listed in the report.

"The district, like most districts in the state of New York, has dealt with fiscal difficulties and will continue to deal with them," said Kelsey.

Almost two years ago, Schalmont Central School District's Budgetary Advisory Committee decided there should be an efficiency study done to determine if there are cost-saving strategies that can be implemented districtwide. The completed study was presented to Schalmont Board of Education during their Monday, Sept. 13, meeting.

"It is really meant to be a tool to have a discussion with the community," said Audrey Hendricks, spokeswoman for the district.

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