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Parents meet, discuss proposed Niskayuna school closing

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Updated: 1/25 3:18 pm

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. – Local parents are fighting to make sure an elementary school stays open.

Parents crowded an emergency PTO meeting in Niskayuna as the school district considers closing a school to help balance the budget.

Niskayuna CSD said they have seen enrollment numbers starting to decline, which is a financial burden, leaving the school district to weigh options on how to balance the budget.

At Tuesday night's Niskayuna school district board meeting, the board announced possible plans to close Birchwood Elementary.

David Apkarian, the Co-President of the Birchwood PTO said "The parents need to know at this point that no decision has been made."

However, Apkarian said the closure is a possibility.

Nearly 100 parents came to a PTO meeting Friday night to learn why the district is considering closing a school, and to give input.

Sasa Mircovic, a concerned father, explained "We're obviously concerned, this is a great school and we want our kids to stay here."

Mirkovic has children in first and fourth grade at the school.  He's worried long term planning isn't fully being considered as the district tries to balance its budget.

"The process that is being followed, has considered other opportunities"

Superintendent Susan Salvaggio said, over the last five years the district has seen a major drop in state aid.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult to close the budget gap," she said.

She explained the district has been cutting expenses and trying to generate revenue, and the only reason closing a school is being considered is because they're running out of options.

Parents who attended the meeting say they understand if a school must close, but the decision needs to have the best long term success for the district.

"We need a long term viable financial plan, if in that card is closing an elementary school, then we need to step back and look at what school it will be," explained Apkarian.

"If it's closing the budget gap, we need to consider today as well as tomorrow," said Mircovic.

The board of education will meet Tuesday night at Van Antwerp middle school to consider their options. They could even vote to close a school during the meeting.

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