OSWEGO, NY ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ The Oswego School Board heard a proposal that would close Minetto Elementary while adding grades 5 and 6 to the middle school.
In an effort to provide a positive plan that is good for the community and the students of the school district, after months of research, the Reconfiguration Committee presented its recommendations to the board on Tuesday night.
|Members of the reconfiguration committee present their recommendations.|
According to presenters Sandy King and Marcia Burrell-Ihlow, the committee has been meeting since November of last year and there has been a genuine attempt to balance excellence with efficiency.
The committee is asking the board to consider the creation of four elementary schools that would house pre-kindergarten to fourth grade.
Burrell-Ihlow told the board that Oswego Middle School, currently a seventh and eighth grade building, would become ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œtwo schools within a schoolÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â under the plan.
Students would be divided in a fifth and sixth grade set up as well as the separate seventh and eighth grade configuration, she explained.
An addition would be proposed for a fifth and sixth grade wing at Oswego Middle School; no mention of the construction cost was included in the presentation.
The addition would be at the west end of the building near the new student drop-off area.
The target date for implementation would be in the fall of 2011.
Redistricting would be necessitated for the elementary schools.
The boundaries for each school would be easily identifiable and provide a more convenient means for transportation.
Many factors have influenced the recommendation. Currently New York State curriculum is based upon pre-kindergarten through fourth grade and fifth through eighth grade. With the implementation of this recommendation class sizes would be reduced.
There would also be the ability to departmentalize in every fifth and sixth grade.
Another advantage would be the ability for staff collaboration opportunities and the new middle school realignment would provide opportunities before studentsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ transition to high school.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThere are factors influencing this recommendation included a projected decline in enrollment, the capital project review of facilities and transportation concerns,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â explained Burrell-Ihlow.
The Reconfiguration Committee faced a major task, but a major part of their work dealt with the board policy for closing facilities.
According to the board policy any recommendation must take into concern age and condition, enrollment and demographic patterns, fiscal ramifications, capacity, impact on staffing and student safety, historic value and a relationship to a long range plan.
As recommended by the capital project committee the Minetto Elementary School is in need of extensive infrastructure repair.
Approximately $4.7 million is required to fix the high needs concerns. That money could be saved for use elsewhere if the plan is implemented, the committee members said.
There was some concern over mixing younger students with older students at OMS.
However, research has shown that, “The behavior of the seventh and eight graders
actually improved when including fifth and sixth (graders) on the bus,” Burrell-Ihlow said.
And, they would be separated for most if not all of the school day, she added.
In the area of enrolment the district, over the last nine years, has experienced a decline of 100 or more students per year (with the exception of 2002).
Looking at current and projected data the district could lose more than 1,000 students over a nine-year period. Currently the district has lost 785 students over eight years.
This year, there are 4,327 students in the district and this is a significant decrease from the 5,112 in 1999. The projected enrollment for 2010-11 is 3,955.
Financially, the closing of Minetto would result in a 50% decrease in utility costs, allow $4.7 million of the current $48.2 million capital project to be reallocated, Burrell-Ihlow said.
Other benefits, according to the committee, would be to provide long-term savings on utilities and insurance, provide a potential of the building sale to offset local cost of
capital projects and reduce 40,000 square feet of school space.
The committee never intended to cut staff, Burrell-Ihlow said.
The capacity exists for absorbing the students, staff and programs from Minetto into a reconfigured elementary school model, she said.
Joining Burrell-Ihlow and King on the committee were Veronica Baker, Peter Colucci, Cathy Chamberlain, Jack Fields, Fred Maxon, Mary Ann Schultz, Maggie Tiballi, Mary Volkomer and Chris Warner.
A public forum regarding the recommendations will be conducted at the Oswego Middle School on Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. where community input will be welcome.