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Niskayuna school board discusses reconfiguration plans

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Albany/HV: Niskayuna school board discusses reconfiguration plans
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Should Niskayuna's school district close a school to cut costs? That question and others were discussed during Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting. The board heard recommendations on the future configuration of district schools. Innae Park has the latest.

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. -- "There's lots of ways to be more creative and innovative about how we deliver education in Niskayuna and utilize our facilities we have better," said Evan Brooksby, Facilities Utilization Advisory Committee member and parent.

The Niskayuna School District is still in need of cuts. Once again, Van Antwerp Middle School is on the chopping block.

After facing a $4 million plus deficit last year and now a projected hole of $2.6 million for next year, the district put together the Facilities Utilization Advisory Committee to look at how their schools could be reconfigured to cut costs.

Tuesday, the committee presented their final 3 options to the board.

  • Consolidating five kindergarten through fifth grade elementary schools into four. That plan would keep middle schools as is with grades six through eight.
  • Consolidating five elementary schools into four kindergarten through fourth grade schools. In that plan, fifth and sixth graders would go to Van Antwerp Middle School and seventh and eighth graders would stay at Iroquois.
  • The last plan would create a middle school campus with sixth grade at what is now Rosendale Elementary School, putting grades seven thought eight at Iroquois. That third option would close Van Antwerp entirely.

Brooksby said, "I don't think it's possible to come up with a solution that everybody's going to be thrilled with. This is not a happy place for anyone in the school district to be in."

"It was like putting 10 pounds of potatoes in a five pound sack. It did not work," Sally Magid said.

Considering Van Antwerp was shut down in the 80s and reopened later, Magid is among those who saw the change. They say closure is not the answer.

Magid said, "You don't get a free ride. You don't close the school, turn the key in the lock and walk away and say you have no more costs. You still have costs." She mentioned security to prevent vandalism, heating costs to maintain the empty building and extra busses to transport students to the other middle school.

However, at this point, every cent may count.

The committee has not specified which elementary school would be closed in the suggested options.

The board will discuss these options, but they could choose not to take any of them. They will have to take action in the next few months before a budget proposal is due.

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