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Which school to close?

A public hearing on which — not whether — is Monday night, Nov. 19, at 7:30 at East Ridge Middle School.

The facilities committee charged with recommending a school to close will hear from the public before it finishes its work next week.

The public hearing is Monday night, Nov. 19, at 7:30 at East Ridge Middle School.

The committee, formed by a Board of Education motion, consists of Board of Finance members, selectmen, school board members, and the superintendent.

The school board already voted to close one of the six elementary schools when enrollment falls below 2,000 students and is predicted to remain below that threshold for at least a decade. The committee’s task is limited to choosing which one would be the most beneficial to close.

Board of Education member Irene Burgess, who has been the committee’s chairman, said she doesn’t want the hearing Tuesday to be used to rehash the issue of whether a school should be closed.

“That day has come and gone, to be totally honest,” Ms. Burgess said.

“Comments made regarding whether or not a school should be closed at all should be directed to the Board of Education — they are not appropriate for the public hearing on the 19th and will not be taken into consideration by the Reconfiguration Committee, as they have no weight on its recommendations or decisions,” the committee wrote in a press release.

“Please also note that comments must be limited to two minutes in time and that the meeting will begin promptly at 7:30 with the presentation and end no later than 9:30 p.m.”

Comments will be preceded by a brief synopsis of how the committee has gone about scoring schools in terms of which would be the most or least desirable to close.

The current draft of the list puts Farmingville at the top — meaning it is the committee’s first choice for closure at this point — followed by Scotland. Branchville and Veterans Park were close, possibly tying for third place Monday, but the numbers hadn’t been tallied following the narrowing down of criteria on the grading system. Barlow Mountain and Ridgebury are seen as a distant fourth and fifth, respectively, because of their size and recent investments in the buildings.

The criteria include:

  • Busing impact
  • Ability to maintain parity of education*
  • Personnel savings*
  • Flexible support space
  • Number of classrooms
  • Ability to accommodate uncertain demographics and other factors
  • Economic impact on town
  • Air-conditioned space
  • Walkability
  • Facilities savings

All the schools received equal scores on the items with asterisks, rendering them moot points. The list has been narrowed down, eliminating some items like town reuse, since the town has not specified a preference to have one building given back to it over another building.

Comments from Monday’s meeting will be discussed at the final committee meeting Tuesday in preparation for the committee’s presentation to the Board of Education.

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