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Dr. Johns discusses Liverpool school closures

Liverpool superintendent looks at Educorps report

While rumors of school closures have been whispered throughout the Liverpool Central School District, Superintendent Dr. Richard Johns said there is much more to be said for this unfortunate possibility.

Johns said the notion of building closure is nothing new since the district has had a "utilization study" performed by Educorps. "The district has had the report since before I came on in August (2009)," Johns said.

In last week's Star-Review, Johns' weekly column discussed the duties of the LCSD Long Range Facility Planning Committee, which began its meetings Wednesday Jan. 20. The committee, was, and still is, one of the driving forces to help determine whether or not the district will close one or more buildings.

The utilization study "suggested that the district close one school in the 2010-11 school year," Johns said. The report said the district could stand to close one, and two could even be a possibility as well, he said.

Inside the report, on page 17, Johns said the study mentioned the fact that the district lost 500 students in a decline in enrollment between 2001 and 2008.

Johns said the district paid this consulting firm to perform the utilization study so that areas such as enrollment trends, capacity of schools and other trend analyses could be determined.

"The report implied heavily that the district has a lot of personnel efficiencies," Johns said.

The district will have to "lay off staff" because it's "forced by not having funds in the budget to do the things next year that it did this year," Johns said.

Although Johns said he had hoped to have the Long Range Facility Planning Committee's report establish the best option for the district, Gov. Dave Paterson's recent news on the state's education budget changed everything.

With a $7 million cut in state funding, Johns said "there is little to work with." Now, Johns said there will be "capacity" and "building closure scenarios" included in his Feb. 8 Superintendent's Budget Proposal.

Among enrollment and capacity issues, Johns said the district's architect Nick Signorelli, of Ashley McGraw Architects PC in Syracuse, developed a list of necessary building repairs in 2004.

Johns said the district has made some progress with that list, but that there are many items that have been added back to the list for further repair. There is a lot "beyond the number of elementary schools" in the district's issues with a lack of state aid.

At this time, Johns said he does not want to mention specifics on which schools might be facing closure next fall.

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