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September 22, 2018

Leighton Parents: Don’t Close Our School


Dozens of parents, the majority those with students attending Leighton Elementary School, pack the board room for Tuesday night's school board meeting. Nearly 20 of them spoke out against a plan that would close Leighton. District officials say the proposal is but one option they are considering and a final decision won't be made for quite some time.

Dozens of parents, the majority those with students attending Leighton Elementary School, pack the board room for Tuesday night's school board meeting. Nearly 20 of them spoke out against a plan that would close Leighton. District officials say the proposal is but one option they are considering and a final decision won't be made for quite some time.

OSWEGO, NY – Even though any decision is still months away, at best, nearly 20 people let the Oswego school board know how they feel right now.

At its December meeting, the board heard from a committee that examined what options the district had if it sold the Education Center.

The option that was at the forefront of discussion was closing Leighton Elementary and relocating the district’s offices there.

That didn’t sit well with the parents of Leighton students who spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Some speakers also cried foul; complaining that the district pushed the meeting’s start time back to 4 p.m. in an attempt to avoid hearing their comments regarding the school.

Mary Pryor noted that student achievement has been improving in the district. However, if Leighton students have to be added to classes in other elementary schools, the larger class sizes could put that trend in jeopardy.

Leighton was targeted due to its proximity to the high school and the convenience that would provide the administration, she said.

“That’s not an acceptable reason!” she told the board. “Administrators’ convenience should never take precedence over what is best for the children of this district. It would be self-serving for the administration to take one of the best elementary buildings for their own use. Their comfort and convenience shouldn’t be the motivation on which a new location is chosen.”

Closing a school won’t solve the district’s financial problems, she added.

Any decision the board makes “should be for the betterment of the school system and the children it serves,” she said.

Tara Weisman also questioned why Leighton, the largest elementary school, was being considered for closure. It is three times the size of the Education Center, she pointed out.

If Leighton closed, the other elementary schools would have to absorb 112 new students. That averages out to about 16 kids per grade or six kids per class, she said.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot until you look at our average numbers right now,” she added. “That brings our average class size up to 25 to 30 students per classroom.”

Also, 92 percent of Leighton’s 37 teachers are tenured. They would have to be placed somewhere, she said.

According to some studies she’s seen, the affects on students due to displacement, she said, include a higher suicide risk.

“If you call yourselves educators, then the students need to be put first, not you,” she told the board.

“I think it’s very disappointing, for the community as a whole, that we’re once again revisiting this issue of possibly closing a school,” Julie Chetney told the board. “I feel like the community is on a rollercoaster. I wish it would come to an end; are we closing one or not? Move forward with it, it’s becoming really repetitive. It’s time to make a decision.”

There is no reason the district has to relocate all Leighton’s students, Kisha Joyce told the board.

“You guys need to figure out how to divide up this building amongst the school district and work it out. You need to make it work, that’s the bottom line,” she said.

Marguerite Clark served on the Relocation Committee.

“I can honestly say that I do not agree or support the options that were presented to you,” she said. “I feel we were not given enough information to make a fair and accurate decision. I firmly believe that the options you were presented are flawed.”

She suggested cost-saving measures such as out-sourcing simple office services, consolidating the current offices to just two floors and rent out the rest of the Ed Center.

“Do what you were elected to do and that is look after the best interests of the students and citizens of this community,” she said.

Judy Kenefic told the board they should give more support to the elementary level so the students will be more successful when they reach high school.

“Having a 4 O’clock meeting wasn’t fair,” she said. “People who wanted to be here didn’t have time to get out of work.”

“This is about the kids, not the adults. We need to do this for the kids, not the adults,” said Gabrielle Caruso.

Gina Horn brought her two children to the meeting. Her daughter is a fourth grader and her son is a second grader at Leighton.

She and her husband bought their home because it was in the Leighton district, she told the board.

“I know that there is a firm belief among several of you on this board that we need to get rid of teachers and make our class sizes bigger. That is completely false; it will not work, our grades will go down,” Beth McCrobie said.

There is no reason to rush to a decision now, just to provide closure, Susan McBrearty told the board. The district needs to continue the positive strides it has been making, she said.

“Closing an elementary school and increasing class sizes is not going to be able to continue that,” she said.

“If you take the largest enrolled elementary school, in the best physical condition, to renovate for the purposes of offices (for administration) it sends a message to the taxpayers and students that athletics and administration are more valuable than academics and comfortable classrooms,” said George Allen.

“We appreciate each and every one of your comments,” Board President Sam Tripp said.

He also apologized for the early start to the meeting but added he didn’t anticipate such a large turnout.

“This early in the process, we’re a long way from making any decision,” he explained.

“There is no action that will take place this evening,” Superintendent Bill Crist agreed. “This is an opportunity for the board to discuss the report and also assure you that there will be subsequent opportunity for you to be involved in this process as well.”

There was a newsletter sent out to the community regarding the situation as well as information on the district’s website, he said, adding “It’s out there.”

“I don’t think so” and “No, it isn’t” a couple of the audience members called out.

“This isn’t a discussion,” board member Dave White informed the speakers. “Let the superintendent continue.”

“I’m just laying some groundwork here. I’m not debating. I’d be happy to discuss this later,” Crist added.

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10 Responses “Leighton Parents: Don’t Close Our School”

  1. Joan
    January 6, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Since the administration has believed that Mobile buildings (used for Years in the past at the Middle School) are good enough for use by students, why not put the administration in them? Let the Administrators walk from the Mobile buildings to the main school in the Winter!

  2. January 6, 2010 at 9:39 am

    THAY SHOULD CLOSE DOWN A SCHOOL AND MAKE SOME LAY OFFS OTHER STATES ARE DOING IT.THE DISTRICT IS TO FAT.AND HAS BEEN FOR SOME TIME.AND THE TAX PAYERS KEEP ON TAKEING THE BRUNT OF IT.

  3. Kris
    January 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Every year they talk about closing a school, Leighton is the larger of the schools, we do not need to make the classes larger than they are. I agree put the aministration out in the Mobiles. Leave th children where they are. Our district never looks out for our children, but just their selves, their comfort. Give us a break, who’s bright idea was this anyway. If you are thinking of changing so many childrens lives, have a meeting where the public can all make it. Very Sneaky.

    (Kris – as the board president and superintendent noted last night, this was just an opportunity for the board to hear about the plan and discuss it. No action on the matter was to be taken; and probably won’t be for a long time. In fact, the superintendent said more meetings would be held on the subject and he encouraged further public input.The board didn’t anticipate such a large turnout and had it known so many were going to attend, they would have scheduled it later. – Steve)

  4. Colleen
    January 6, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    The thought that they would close Leighton is very frustrating, especially beings I as a parent did not find out from a newsletter or even the school. I was told the day before there was a meeting by my daughter’s teacher this gave me no notice to let my work know so I could attend. I believe Leighton is one of the best elementary schools. I went there and loved it, I also went to one other in the district and it did not compare. You feel like you are a part of a family, if my daughter had to go to a different school she would probably be upset, as many other children would. I agree that larger class sizes are not needed and would be a negative effect on learning. Just a little bit of my opinion as I was not notified in a timely manner so I could go last night.

  5. Susan
    January 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Instead of getting rid of teachers (who affect our students daily) we need to decrease administrators. Do you know how many people are at the Ed Center that truly could be eliminated and the kids would never be affected? Everyone knows this. But it doesn’t happen. Start there. Our kids need class sizes that are small OR at least manageable. We don’t need them to be higher than they already are. Start weeding out the people sitting in offices all day that don’t affect our students, when all is said and done.

  6. Amanda
    January 6, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Bottom line for Leighton’s mommies to understand: the voters overwhelmingly voted last May to close the ed. center with the full understanding that it would result in the closing of an elementary school. If anyone opposed the closing of a school, now is not the time to complain. They should have taken care of this in May when it was time to vote. We need to close at least 1 school for the well being of the taxpayers of this district. Ideally they would not only close a school but put the prima-donna, 6 figure administrators into a trailer, but Crist Chamberlain Colucci and Myles are all under the impression that their crap does not stink so they need plush accomodations at the expense of the taxpayers. None of them care a single lick about the students, all they care about is getting a pay raise each year. To the parent who thinks a school closing will result in the lay off of teachers: you are wrong. The extraordinarily low class sizes will remain right where they are with teachers just moving into other buildings. OCTA advocates Sean, Dave, Tom and Jim will ensure that no teachers are laid off. They will just pass the burden to taxpayers.

    [Editor’s Note: This comment comes very close to breaking our one rule of commenting: no personal attacks. In fact, it steps a little bit over the line with the “prima donna” allegations. However, the first half of the comment has the kind of substance we want to encourage. Please, folks, no personal attacks. Debate the issues. Wanna call somebody a name? Call ’em up. Thanks.]

  7. Jonathon
    January 6, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    To close an elementary school at this point is way too premature. Consider it again 5 years down the road. There has been no cost saving analysis done either to show how much would be saved/gained in closing a school. Members of the board and the administration in the district got an earful! Good job parents! Stand up for your kids! Stand up for your school! Let the ignorant board member that doesn’t get it know you mean business!

  8. Jonathon
    January 6, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Amanda, can you please provide the reference/literature/resolution that was sent to the tax payers that stated “if the ed center is sold an elementary school will close”. Voters were misled into thinking that the ed center can be just be relocated. Amanda are you aware the ed center is paid off. Are you aware the leased 3rd floor to a law firm, basically pays all the expenses of the building. The build in nearly self-sufficient. Amanda, can you please tell me the exact dollar amount that will be saved in closing a school? How much will transportation cost in the new routes? How much will it cost to relocate the district offices and technology department? Amanda, can you please specifically state the school or the classroom or the period with the “extraordinarly low” class sizes. Please be as specific as possible, so I am able check on those numbers.

  9. Michael T. Johnson
    January 7, 2010 at 4:04 am

    I really wish that some of the commentators on this website would soon learn to spell correctly. The word “taking” never has and never will include and “e” and the word “too” has TWO “o’s, also there is no word in the dictionary that is spelled “t-h-a-y”.

    This issue is about doing things intelligently, and apparently this is not the case, just yet.

  10. michelle
    March 30, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I ALSO MOVED HERE AND PURCHASED MY HOME BECAUSE IT WAS CLOSE TO LEIGHTON.. WOW I THOUGHT FULTON WAS BAD. I COULDNT WAIT TO MOVE HERE TO OSWEGO THE SCHOOLS SEEMED SO RIGHT AND I FELT COMFY WITH THE IDEA THAT THE SCHOOL WAS SOO NEAR AND THE TEACHERS AND STAFF WERE CARING AND MORE UNDERSTANDING AND CARED FOR THESE KIDS.. WAKE UP PEOPLE YOU CANT PUT A PRICE ON EDUCATION NOR THOSE TEACHERS, STAFF OR PRINCIPALS THAT DEDICATE THEIR DAILY LIVES INTO THESE KIDS.ITS A RELATIONSHIP OF LEARNING AND ITS GOING TO RIP THESE KIDS ..FOR THE KIDS FOR THE KIDS WHAT A JOKE. HOW DO YOU THINK THESE CHILDREN ARE GOING TO FEEL WITHOUT THOSE TEACHERS THEY TRUST OR HAVE BONDED WITH .. WHY DONT YOU CUT BACK ON SOME OF THESE UNNESSESARY BUILDINGS IN OSWEGO THERE MUST BE 10 BUILDINGS FOR WATER ,TAXES , THIS CLERK THAT . I THINK THIS IS A BIG MISTAKE AND YOU ARE AFFECTING EACH CHILD THAT HAS ENJOYED AND MADE PROGRESS EMOTIONALLY AS WELL AS EDUCATIONALLY AT LEIGHTON .

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