Jul 26, 2014

Last Hearing for LES Closure is Tonight

Last Hearing for LES Closure is Tonight
The last public hearing for the proposed closure of Lewisboro Elementary School is scheduled for tonight. 

The hearing is the fifth and final for the review process. The previous four hearings, which were held in October and November, involved the three Katonah-Lewisboro school board members included in the School Closure Task Force. In contrast, tonight's hearing will include the full board. The board's meeting is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at John Jay Middle School's auditorium.

The hearing comes following a Dec. 19 vote from the board, which passed 5-2, that allowed for the process to continue. The board is slated to take a vote relating to the LES closure itself at a meeting on Jan. 23.

School district officials are considering a closure of LES for the 2014-15 school year due to declining student enrollment and a demographer's forecast that the trend will continue. The estimated savings for doing so are projected to be almost $2 million annually. Some LES parents, however, have spoken out against a closure for the following school year, with disruption and property value impact among the concerns.

As part of the review process, multiple scenarios were produced for redistricting. The first, which uses 2013-14 enrollment levels, would have 165 LES students moved to Increase Miller Elementary School (IMES), 118 to Meadow Pond Elementary School (MPES) and 67 to Katonah Elementary School (KES). About, 46 kids from IMES would be moved to KES. The second scenario, which was produced following school board feedback and also uses 2013-14 data, would have 214 LES students moving to IMES and 136 moving to MPES.

While no LES students would be redistricted to KES, the second scenario involves moving about 94 IMES kids to the Katonah building. The second scenario has support from the district's administration, based on what Superintendent Paul Kreutzer told the school board at a meeting last week. 

The movement of IMES students was a point of discussion at last week's school board meeting. Board member Stephanie Tobin, who attended a community gathering about the issue the day before, gave a recap to the full board. She explained that there was interest from attendees in a third scenario, which would involve adding LES kids to IMES but without a KES redistricting component. A similar iteration would allow for KES redistricting but let current IMES kids continue to attend their current school.

A third scenario was met with concern from Kreutzer, along with Assistant Superintendent for Business Michael Jumper. Kreutzer gave population imbalance between the schools and class size as his concerns, while Jumper mentioned service change and transportation. The third scenario did not have enough support from the school board when feedback was given. However, six board members were inclined to support the second scenario, based on an informal disclosure of opinions. Only Tobin was inclined to support the first scenario.

At the board meeting, various IMES parents spoke, with some concerned about the quantity of students who would be displaced. However, some IMES parents in attendance - two went on the record - preferred a redistricted cohort to be on the larger side. 

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