Parents: ‘Don’t close a school’

Michael Alltop said the Veterans Park auditorium is a valuable asset to the district and would be a shame to lose by closing a school. —Jake Kara photo

Moms, and a few dads, sharply criticized Monday much of the work done by the committee charged with recommending an elementary school to close.

“My ire is not directed at you but at the Board of Education,” Tom Caruso of Conley Court told the committee at a public hearing. “This is absolutely ridiculous that we’re having this conversation. … We’re talking about saving less than $1 million in an $80-million budget.”

The facilities committee chairman, Irene Burgess, specified that she didn’t want to rehash the issue of whether to close a school, because that was the school board’s call. She said she wanted to focus on the decision of which school to close.

However, that isn’t what happened.

Some 35 of the approximately 100 audience members spoke, panning the decision to close a school, suggesting it be brought to a referendum, questioning the way the committee conducted its analysis and its ability to be impartial, and imploring the committee not to make a recommendation to the school board next week as it plans to.

No one offered a clear recommendation of a school they would shutter.

There was some lobbying for individual schools to remain open.

Lili Schroppe of Barry Avenue pointed to Veterans Park’s No. 3 spot on a state education organization’s ranking of elementary schools. She said Veterans Park helps draw home buyers to Ridgefield.

“I just don’t think it makes sense to close something that is that valuable.”

Michael Alltop, a theater director, said Veterans Park has a good stage and theater.

“The saying is true — they don’t make ’em like that anymore. … A ‘gymna-cafe-torium’ has got nothing on our auditorium.” (A Farmingville parent later shot back that anyone’s child’s performance, on a cafetorium stage or not, brings tears to a parent’s eyes.)

Some parents criticized the process, which they said “pitted” parents and schools against one another.

“This is not something to be proud of … fighting with each other,” said Melanie Lumelleau of Catoonah Street.

Some questioned how the committee can go forward when the town has not indicated which building might be preferable for reuse.

“If they’re not going to commit, then how can we possibly discuss  revenue from one of the buildings that is going to close?” asked Sarah Katz of Limekiln Road.

More coverage of the hearing appears in this week’s Press.

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  • rdg-oldtimer

    BOE—You took the job– you made the decision–stick by your reasoning–You cave, you look weak–correction, you question your decision

  • fedupwithrudy

    I suggest we hire an auditing firm to analyze this $80M budget. I am sure they could find ways to save on a $80M budget. I am sure there is money in there can be saved. i.e. Do we really need 5 selectman?

  • EBurns

    Only one of them is paid (the First Selectman). The others do not get paid (they are volunteers), so how would reducing the number of Selectmen save any money?

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