Board assures public school closing’s no done deal

CHATHAM–The school board agreed last week to continue exploring the option of closing the middle school, but made it clear that board members are far from a making a decision.

“I know I feel I need a lot more information before I can make a decision,” said board President Melony Spock. “I know a lot of people feel that we’ve already made a decision. We really have not made a decision. I like having time for us to make the right decision.”

The district held public meetings August 14 and September 11 to present the findings of a facilities study to the community as well as hear feedback and answer questions. The study said that the district could save over $681,000 annually by closing the middle school building and consolidating students in two buildings. Based on the feedback they have received, the board took time at its meeting September 18 to discuss what to do next, reaching a consensus to gather more information.

Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo said that there is a misunderstanding among district residents that district officials already knows which way they are going on the issue. She said that the information they’ve collected along the way tells them that it makes sense to keep talking about thequestion.

“If we had to vote tonight, I would say no,” said board member Michael Clark. “I think we should continue to aggressively look at this possibility.” Mr. Clark added that there are many issues that need to be resolved before a decision can be made.

“I think it’s clear that we’re not going to rush to any decisions,” said David O’Connor. “I think we would be letting down our community by not going to the next step to continue to educate ourselves and the community.”

The board will discuss a timeline at the October 16 meeting.

Also at the meeting, Ms. Nuciforo:

Addressed the Pledge of Allegiance situation at the elementary school. During the first week of school this year, the Pledge of Allegiance was not being recited in some classrooms, causing some parents to express concerns to the school. Ms. Nuciforo said that the school offers “only apologies, no excuses” for the oversight. She said that there was a change in routine that led to a misunderstanding.

According to a letter sent out to parents from the elementary school principal Kristen Reno, the pledge is normally recited over the loudspeaker during morning announcements. But the school had not had morning announcements during the beginning of the month. Teachers have been reminded to lead the classrooms in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.

Announced that the middle school is no longer listed by the state as a “School in Need of Improvement.” The school was put on the list in 2011 due to results in the standardized English Language Arts tests for students with disabilities. The middle school now joins the high school and elementary school as “Schools in Good Standing.” Ms. Nuciforo said that this is a result of both improved test scores and a change to the way the state identifies schools in need of improvement.


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