KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) – After nearly two years of trying to plot the best course of action, the Ken-Ton School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to close Hamilton and Roosevelt elementary schools and merge Kenmore Middle School into the high school.
Last month, the school district released its final consolidation report, detailing four scenarios board members could choose from that would ultimately shape the future of the district. Each plan called for Kenmore Middle School to be merged into the high school, and none of the plans targeted Holmes Elementary, which had previously been looked at for possible closure.
In the end, after hearing from parents, board members selected “Scenario I,” which means Hamilton and Roosevelt elementary schools will close. The district will also be selling the Philip Sheridan and Jefferson elementary buildings. The remaining elementary schools will house grades Pre-K to 4.
“Scenario I was the most popular by a resounding majority,” said Board Member Todd Potter, Jr. “And I’m very happy with what we’re doing.”
Kenmore Middle School will be merged into the high school, which will now house students from grades 8-12. The middle school building will then become administrative offices.
Potter said, “It’s actually opening up a lot of opportunities that these 8th graders don’t have in those schools currently, [such as] clubs, modified sports.”
The plan is set to begin in 2016-2017, when the Ken-Ton District will also undergo re-districting to determine which students will be placed in the remaining schools.
It is estimated Scenario I will save the district a total of $4.8 million each year. Other plans had the potential to save the district even more money each year, but board members said they felt those plans might be too much for the community to handle.
“We didn’t do this just out of the economics,” said School Board President Bob Dana. “We simply had too many empty seats. To operate a school district, you need to do so and be responsible to the taxpayers.”
Parents seemed happy with the board’s decision, saying it will allow the district to bring back programs. Some even suggested that success in the Ken-Ton School District could be used as a model for other schools going forward.
“It’s going to take a couple of years to get everything set up and move in that direction. There’s no reason to rush, we’ve got time, let’s do it the right way,” Dana said.
Parent Dawn Stinner said, “Changes need to be made. We need to make concessions for our children and we need to bring back the programs we lost and this is the only possible way.”