Vote on Forestport school closing tabled

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BOONVILLE — The Adirondack Board of Education has tabled a resolution to close Forestport Elementary School, and is expected to vote on it at a special meeting on April 4.

A resolution to close the site effective June 30 was listed on the agenda for the board’s meeting Tuesday night, but the board instead approved a motion to table it and will consider the matter further. The April 4 special meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Boonville Elementary School cafeteria, school district clerk Michelle Freeman said today.

Closing the Forestport school, a grade K-5 facility at 10275 State Route 28, is being considered due to factors including overall declining student enrollment in the Adirondack school district, an effort to better balance class sizes, and projected financial savings. The school board has questioned the viability of maintaining three elementary buildings in the future, district Superintendent Edward Niznik has said. The district’s other two elementary schools are in Boonville and West Leyden.

The Forestport school’s enrollment as of March 1 was 79 students overall for grades K-5, said Freeman. If closed, its students would be relocated to Boonville Elementary School, whose projected enrollment for the next school year in 2019-20 would be about 393 students in pre-K to grade 5, said a district question-and-answer document. The West Leyden school’s projected enrollment would be about 136 students in pre-K to grade 5.

Regarding space at Boonville Elementary School for additional students from the Forestport site, “there is sufficient room to add class sections,” according to the district document. The Boonville building at one time had over 800 students in grades K-8, the district said.

Estimated savings from a Forestport school closing would be about $623,000, said the district; included would be salaries, benefits, contractual along with buildings and grounds expenses, materials and supplies, plus BOCES expense. Staffing reductions would include two full-time elementary teachers, a full-time nurse, along with part-time slots for a physical education teacher, clerical position, cafeteria worker, and cleaner/groundskeeper.

If the savings and reductions do not occur, the impact would equate to a 6.25 percent increase in the local tax levy, according to the district. The financial considerations would affect the district’s 2019-20 budget for the next school year that begins July 1. A proposed 2019-20 district budget is still under discussion by the school board, said Freeman.

The potential Forestport closing has been a topic at recent meetings, including concerns expressed by members of the community about such factors as educational impacts and busing. A special board meeting Monday night for public feedback on the issue was attended by about 50 people and lasted nearly two hours, Freeman noted.

The district’s enrollment for the current 2018-19 year is 1,228 students, a 21 percent decline from 1,548 in 2003-04, the district said. Among recent trends for the Forestport school’s enrollment, in the 2011-12 year it had 111 students in pre-K to grade 5, said Freeman, compared to the
current 79 students for K-5.

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