Decision To Close A School Is Never Easy

The decision to close a school is never easy.

Look no further than Jamestown’s decision to close Rogers Elementary School or even the process that resulted in abandoning Chautauqua and Mayville central schools.

The children who attended those schools have fond memories of the things they learned in warm, friendly classrooms and of the friends they made during their time in school. Some parents have those same fond memories of their school experience. The bonding and good times they shared with their children and their children’s teachers forge a very powerful emotional bond with a building.

Parents and community members should be sad when it’s time to close a building. It’s hard to think of those warm rooms sitting cold and unused. It’s hard to think those good memories won’t be shared by future generations.

That’s what makes next Monday’s Cassadaga Valley Central School board vote to close Cassadaga Elementary School difficult for the community. The numbers make a case for closing the school that wonderful memories can’t overcome. The numbers show the district doesn’t need two elementary schools, and it’s far more cost-effective to close Cassadaga Elementary School than it is to close Sinclairville Elementary School.

It’s never easy to cut positions. We understand it’s difficult on those families and the communities in which they live. The fact remains that closing Cassadaga Elementary School and eliminating two full-time equivalent teachers and eight support staff positions will save the district about $400,000, according to Debra McAvoy, business administrator. The district would save that money without overburdening its teachers and students. John Kwietniewski, Sinclairville principal, said his school’s capacity is figured at 22 students per classroom. It’s not too much to ask of a good teacher to handle that many students at one time.

Besides, the district’s population is on the decline. Since 1992, it has decreased by 422 students to 1,046 students in 2012-13. Fewer than 100 children attend Cassadaga Elementary. Next year, district-wide enrollment is projected to dip to 967.

With fewer students each year across the district, it’s irresponsible to keep two elementary schools open. If Sinclairville Elementary can accommodate the fewer than 100 additional students required by closing Cassadaga Elementary – which it appears it can – it would be unfortunate if the school board didn’t vote for to close Cassadaga Elementary.

The decision to close a school isn’t easy, but in this case, it’s necessary. School board members should make the right decision Monday and close Cassadaga Elementary School.