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Published: Tuesday, 4/28/2009

Elementary school closings proposed in Monroe

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - Members of the Monroe Board of Education are to discuss and may vote Tuesday night on proposals to close and consolidate elementary schools.

Recommendations being offered to the board by school administrators as ways to cut $2 million to $4 million from the budget include closing up to four older elementary schools and reassigning students to others.

The consolidation and redistricting proposal that would save the most money calls for shuttering South Monroe Townsite, Lincoln, Riverside, and Christiancy elementaries, converting Cantrick Learning Center into an upper elementary for third through sixth grades, and using Riverside for the early child-care program.

Hollywood Elementary, near Cantrick, would become a lower elementary for kindergarten and first and second grade classes.

More than 1,000 students affected by the restructuring and consolidation would be reassigned next September to the district's other elementaries.

The administration projects that the school closings and reduction in staff would save more than $1 million annually.

Board members are also being asked to review two proposals as alternatives to shuttering the four elementaries.

One plan, which estimates a nearly $760,000 yearly saving, calls for closing Lincoln, South Monroe Townsite, and Riverside.

It also recommends converting Cantrick into an upper elementary, using Hollywood for kindergarten through second grade, and relocating the early child-care program to Riverside.

The third proposal involves closing only Lincoln Elementary, saving the district about $425,000 annually.

Its nearly 300 students would attend other elementaries.

Ken Laub, assistant superintendent of business, said the proposals are being given to the board as options to address rising operating costs, declining enrollment projections, and flattened state revenue. "This is really about dealing with the balance of this year's school budget and next year's budget, and projections are that it will continue to get worse," he said.

Two years ago, when faced with similar consolidation and redistricting proposals, the board closed Cantrick, then a middle school, declining to close elementaries.

"We felt it was the right thing to do to position ourselves for the future," Mr. Laub said. "Regardless of whether it was the right or wrong decision by the board, they decided to do something different."

The administration is also asking the board to study other proposals that could provide long-term savings for the district, including privatizing custodial services in school buildings and contracting lawn-care maintenance and snow removal.

The board may be asked to vote on proposals to obtain bids on the services from outside contractors.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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