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Niskayuna committee to discuss school reconfiguration

Last meeting is tonight

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
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— A Niskayuna Central School District committee tasked with recommending the future configuration of district schools is to meet for the last time tonight and finalize its recommendations to the school board.

Their recommendations will be presented at the school board’s Dec. 3 meeting.

The group, called the district’s Facilities Utilization Advisory Committee, narrowed down its options completing a cost-benefit analysis on each of six options, according to minutes of the meeting available on the district’s website.

The final three options to be presented to the board are:

* Consolidate five elementary schools into four, leaving the district’s two middle schools as they are.

* Consolidate five elementary schools into four schools grades K to 4; have grades 5 and 6 at the current Van Antwerp Middle School; and grades 7 and 8 at the current Iroquois Middle School.

* Create a “middle school campus” focused on the current Rosendale Elementary School and Iroquois Middle School, both located near each other. Grade 6 would be at Rosendale, while grades 7 and 8 would be at Iroquois. The current Van Antwerp Middle School would then close.

The committee also will recommend that any building that is closed remain in district hands as the district looks at options for its further use, according to the minutes.

The two options that would close an elementary school do not identify the school.

The committee was born out of last spring’s contentious budget process as the board worked to close a large budget gap. Talk turned to possible closure of a school. At that point, though, officials said it was too late in the process to properly consider the idea.

It is made up of mostly community members, but also district officials.

The December presentation means the options will be available to the board during discussions on the 2014-2015 school budget to go to voters in May.

The three options that remain were the highest-scorers in a complicated scoring system based on committee member votes and cost-savings estimates.

The criteria upon which the recommendations were made: academic program, sustainability, equitability, infrastructure, revenue generation, student impact, transitions, disruption and savings.

The two highest scorers were the two non-middle school campus options. The option that scored highest called for the four elementary schools and keeping the two middle schools as they are now.

Eliminated from consideration were three other options, including an option that would have resulted in two 5-8 middle schools and another with five K-6 elementary schools. The other eliminated option was simply redistricting attendance zones.

Sean Brady, president of Prism Decision Solutions of Binghamton, has been leading the group. The contract with Prism is for $17,000.

Brady has led the group methodically through the process, having members use individual voting pads to express preferences in different areas and discuss the issues in small groups.

Officials have said the committee is following board policy for considering school reconfiguration or closure.

Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the high school library. It is open to the public.

 
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