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Niskayuna School Board may decide on school reconfiguration

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Updated: 1/28 11:01 pm

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. – A possible decision could come on Tuesday night in the Niskayuna Central School District, as leaders could vote to close an elementary school for the next school year.

The Niskayuna school district has been under financial strain due to a lack of state funding and a rise in pension costs. As a result, school officials said they want to reconfigure the school district and cut jobs.

Niskayuna Superintendent Susan Salvaggio said whether or not they close a school will likely come down to capacity issues and how K-5 students are distributed throughout the district.

Birchwood Elementary School is the school officials are considering closing. The superintendent said closing the school will help close the budget gap the district has developed over the last five years.

Lynn Boler has three children who attend the elementary school.

She described the school as "excellent, beautiful, I couldn't ask for anything better from my kids."

She said she is shocked closing a school is even being considered.

"Initially I just thought I needed an explanation, I needed a reason," said Boler.

Superintendent Salvaggio said Birchwood is ideal to close because it would have the least impact on students. Birchwood holds 276 of the nearly 1,700 K-5 students in the district. It has the lowest enrollment in the district, and the least space.

"I think they're not thinking far enough ahead, I think closing any school is short sided," said Boler.

If Birchwood is closed the district said more than 500 students would be relocated among the elementary schools and $415,000 dollars would be saved.

Evan Brooksby thinks the savings from closing a school doesn't translate into good fiscal health.

"I don't think the district is in a position where that needs to happen yet," he said.

Salvaggio said if the board votes to close a school, it is in the best interest of students and long term health of the district.

"We will attend to every child, and every family, in every zone of Niskayuna, we are one school," she said.

The board of education anticipates making a decision about the possible reconfiguration at the meeting Tuesday or on February 4, in order to allow enough time for a healthy transition that won't disrupt school next fall, if the school closes.

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