What is the Five to Thrive mission?
To support our schools and keep all five elementary schools open and our entire district and community thriving. We must maintain:
- Five neighborhood schools as the heart of our communities
- Small class size to optimize learning and academic results
- Reasonable time on bus and fiscally responsible transportation costs
- Responsible use of tax dollars
- Home values and protect local businesses
- BOE/Administration full transparency and accountability
We believe that our children are best served, and our BOE and District staff are best supported, if we collaborate as a community.
Is enrollment declining?
While enrollment has decreased since the 44-year high in 2005, enrollment levels are currently one child below the 44-year average. Kindergarten enrollment increased this school year by 38 kids – the largest increase in over 30 years. Corrected kindergarten enrollment projections provided by Dr. Seversky, show that kindergarten enrollment is projected to remain relatively stable over the next 5 years. So as the larger grades graduate, there will be a residual slight decline overall, but it should level off as the incoming grades move up.
Will enrollment decline forever?
Absolutely not. Enrollment is cyclical. Enrollment will increase, but it cannot be predicted when a trend will change. It could be trending up starting this year, or in 5 years from now. Only time will tell. But we do know that kindergarten enrollment is projected to be relatively stable over the next 5 years and you cannot project kindergarten enrollment more than 5 years out. The last time we had low enrollment (significantly lower than where we are now), Bedford Village Elementary was closed. It had to reopen 10 years later due to increased enrollment (also less than our current enrollment levels).
Are all children accounted for when projecting enrollment?
No. Kindergarten enrollment projections are based on Live Births within the school district. This means all children born while their mother’s address at time of birth was in this district. So families that moved here with children that are not yet school age, are not counted.
Are we going to save a lot of money closing a school?
No. Based on Dr. Seversky’s study, projected savings are nominal for all but the most extreme scenarios that would involve closing two schools (D-G). When you account for the revised enrollment numbers, they are reduced even farther (at least $300K less). His projections also include assumptions that overstate savings like using average salaries rather than the most recent teacher/principal salaries as those would be the first to be let go. They also do not take into account things like transportation costs, the true cost to continue to operate an empty school for safety and maintenance, or the cost to re-open a school when enrollment increases. In addition, any purported savings would likely be negated by a drop in property values.
My School isn’t an option for closure, why should I care?
It’s possible that the second consultant, Interactive, comes back with other options that do include your school. In addition, the impact will be felt across all communities. For example, class sizes may increase at the schools that remain open as the students from the closed school(s) are redistributed. And if property values decrease for some, it’s likely taxes will increase for the others to compensate for the lost revenue. And most importantly, a closure at any school has long lasting impact on the entire community and all students, especially those displaced.
Can the Administration/BoE stop looking at closing a school now?
Yes! There is no requirement that they continue to waste taxpayer money investigating a drastic option that is not necessary and would cause harm to our students and the entire community. At the board meeting on 11/6/19, they even discussed being able to change the directive and timeline at any point.
Why hasn’t the Administration/BoE told Interactive to stop investigating school closures?
That’s a very good question! Ask them.