Van Buren Elementary to stay open

BOE unanimously voted in favor of keeping school

— Parents and residents of the Baldwinsville Central School District felt victorious Monday evening after patiently waiting for the Board of Education to vote on the closure of Van Buren Elementary.

Nearly 40 minutes after the beginning of the regular meeting Oct. 1, board President Burrill Wells read a resolution that, if approved, would have shut the doors to one of the five elementary schools in the district. To the pleasure of many in attendance, the resolution failed, 9-0, keeping Van Buren’s doors open.

“I don’t think it’s advisable to close a building,” said James Goulet, a board member and also a member of the building utilization committee.

Board members took time Friday to tour each of the elementary schools in the district to see firsthand how the space and staff are utilized.

“They are making use of every inch of space that they have,” board Vice President Joan Reeves said. “They have a good plan.”

According to Superintendent Jeanne Dangle, the building utilization committee regrouped after the board’s last meeting because there were several questions from the community about the pending decision to close Van Buren Elementary, located at 20 Ford St. As questions were reviewed, a series of inquiries regarding full day kindergarten popped up causing more questions to be raised by the committee.

Approximately 10 years ago, the district contemplated going to full day kindergarten, but did not have the building capacity. Several years later, state legislation was proposed in an attempt to mandate full day classes.

“These are local decisions and need to be left up to boards,” Dangle said she had told government representatives. An unfunded mandate would put more of a financial burden on the schools and, ultimately, the taxpayers.

While the building utilization committee’s charge was not to look at the possibility of instituting full day kindergarten, the closure of Van Buren Elementary would have taken away the opportunity for future boards to explore the option all together, Dangle said.

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