The Citizens Advisory Committee on Thursday night officially targeted closing School as one of five recommendations to save the money.
The committee spoke to the board and district administration for roughly an hour-and-a-half outlining the process of how the recommendations were developed over their 19 meetings. In addition to the presentation, a 33-page form of the 239 page report, which is available on the district’s website, was distributed to the public at Thursday’s meeting.
The five recommendations of the committee include closing Nesconset Elementary to save the district an estimated $960,000, foregoing the Princeton Plan that would move students group students in schools by kindergarten to second grade and grades three through five, renting and not selling the vacant building school, relocating central offices if the district could benefit financially from the move, and studying the sale of vacant or undeveloped district land.
The board is expected to make its decision on Feb. 28.
“I know that the teachers and administrators will make it work, the parents will make it work, but I know it’s going to be very difficult,” said board member Joanne McEnroy after the meeting.
McEnroy said she has not made a decision on a school closing and will review the committee’s report and community input during the public hearing on Feb. 15.
Board member Grace Plourde said she needed to digest the data from the committee and absorb the community responses from the public hearing before making a decision.
One board member said he is ready to vote based on the committee’s work.
“I’ve said publically that I’m going to go with the recommendation because they’ve [CAC] done all the homework, countless hours … it must have been 1,000 hours. We could have never done that here,” said board member Joseph Saggese.
Saggese also said that he’s been through school closings and moves as a parent in the district and that although it was difficult at times he and his family got through it.
“My son went to East [and] then he went to West … my son stayed at West because he was a senior and my daughter went to East because she was a sophomore so they were split up. My other kids went from Dogwood to St. James so there was disruption but we got through it. Kids get through it, parents get through it,” he said.
The report details enrollment projections, the impact on special education and special services, transition recommendations and long-range considerations and more for the district.
A hearing for the community to speak out about the report and possible school closing is set for Feb. 15 in the auditorium at Nesaquake Middle School. The board will have a work session following the public hearing on Feb. 16 in the Joseph Barton Building on New York Avenue and will make a decision Feb. 28.