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Super: schools should close

While Kelsey has made her recommendation, the Board of Education still has to vote on her proposition to close the schools. The BOE is scheduled to meet and vote on the school closures Monday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

"The board members received a preliminary budget and have that to chew on for the next two weeks," said BOE President Kevin Thompson on Feb. 1. "The work is not done if the board chooses to close two schools. It is just beginning because we have to figure out how to reduce the budget."

Kelsey didn't recommend closing one school because the cost savings would not be great enough for the district. Declining enrollment in the district and reduced aid from the state and federal government has tightened the district's budget.

"There's no doubt that many will not find this proposal palatable," said Kelsey in a statement. "Unfortunately, I believe we need to move forward with these drastic measures as New York state continues to face an unprecedented fiscal crisis."

Thompson also noted the difficult economic climate in the state.

"There is not going to be any type of saving graces," he said about the school's budget and aid from the state. "Based on the budget released by the governor today, it is going to make it extremely difficult to continue offering the services and the environment in the way we are structured without making drastic reductions to programs or making changes to the school configurations."

If the two schools are voted to be closed by the BOE, Thompson said he would hope to have the buildings used to benefit the community.

"I would like to see what the district could do to continue to utilize those facilities to the benefit of the community members," said Thompson. "For somebody that lives in those communities if they are closed, then still how do you get to continue to use them and how do you make sure that the transition for the people for their kids goes as terrific as possible."

He said focusing on a positive transition for children will be a strong goal for the district if the board closes the schools, allowing for the transition to be as seamless as possible.

The district's efficiency study, which was discussed during roundtable sessions with community members and officials, helped establish what community members value and what ideas they could bring to the table. During that study, one of the options for the district to close the schools.

"I am proud of the community surrounding those schools and their participation," Thompson said.""

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