EDITORIAL: School closure needs to be discussed now

This week, Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel pointed out a dramatic drop in enrollment in the Skaneateles school district.

After graduating a class of more than 140 students last June, the incoming class of kindergarten students has only about 80 students. That is a decrease of roughly 43 percent over a 13-year period.

While declining enrollment, and declining population, have been buzz words for policy-makers in recent times, the numbers have become dramatic and the community will need to adapt.

The school district has been gradually reducing its teaching staff through attrition and doing what it can to run more efficiently, without having to lay off staff or propose big increases in taxes. But with reserves running low, they will be short on options when making the next budget.

The latest change was reducing the two elementary buildings to one principal.

This begs the question: how long until the district can no longer justify having both State Street and Waterman schools open?

The answer is not an easy one, but it is an issue that the board of education needs to seriously investigate sooner rather than later.

Closing a school will be a tough decision, but if, or when, it is done, a lot of planning work must be done.

What will become of the building? Will the district sell it? Who would be interested in buying a closed-down school? Could it be demolished? Could it be used for other district purposes with minimal cost of operation?

Though closing a school could be met with resistance from the community, it should be considered a necessary evil — and one that needs to be hashed out now, while there is still time to keep the district from becoming bloated and inefficient.

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