The move comes less than a year after the district closed another school in Lake Clear. Chris Morris has our story.
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Superintendent Jerry Goldman says declining school enrollment and a dicey economic climate contributed to the district’s decision to explore the school’s potential closure.
The Lake Colby School is a small, three-class school serving about 60 kindergarten and universal pre-K students within the state’s largest geographical school district.
In past years, Lake Colby was home to four kindergarten classes.
Goldman says the district is "seriously considering" closing the school. He adds that all three Lake Colby classes can be folded into the district’s Petrova Elementary School, while pre-K students would be sent to Bloomingdale Elementary School.
“If we can do that, it would be financially advantageous for us – and it wouldn’t result in any larger class sizes or anything like that,” Goldman said.
Goldman anticipates the district would save a significant chunk of money by closing Lake Colby, although he says it’s too early to talk about specific numbers. He notes that shuttering the school wouldn’t result in any staffing reductions.
“We’d have the same number of staff, we’d just put them in another building,” Goldman said. “That really helps us in terms of all of our support staff – physical education teachers, counselors, nurses, dental hygienists, speech therapists – all of those people go out there to deliver services. They have to drive there and back, and that’s a waste of time when you have to do that every week. Not only that, but we’d save a lot on bussing – bussing would be a big deal.”
Last year, the district closed down the Lake Clear Elementary School – leading to some public outcry from parents and teachers. Goldman expects similar disappointment if the committee opts to move forward with closing Lake Colby.
“People like Lake Colby – it’s like the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ school,” he said. “But on the other hand, they’re only there for one year, for the most part. I don’t think they develop the same sense of community at Lake Colby as they did at Lake Clear. They could have been at Lake Clear for four years – kindergarten through third grade. Plus Lake Clear was, clearly, a neighborhood school for all of the families out there.”
Goldman also believes taxpayers are more in tune with the financial realities faced by school districts in New York.
“We’re in a different economic environment than we were two years ago,” he said. “I think have a sense that we need to look everywhere to save money. It’s better to save money by doing things like this, rather than lay off people we really need.”
Following last year’s closure of Lake Clear, the district leased the building to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. Goldman anticipates that if the closure moves forward, officials will also consider leasing the Lake Colby School.