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Published: Wednesday, 4/29/2009

4 Monroe schools to close to save $1M

MONROE - An elementary school consolidation and redistricting plan projected to trim more than $1 million from the district budget was approved 4-3 Tuesday night by the Monroe school board.

The move will close Lincoln, South Monroe Townsite, Riverside, and Christiancy elementaries in June and reassign about 1,000 students in the fall.

The proposal also calls for converting Cantrick Learning Center into an upper elementary for third through sixth grades and using nearby Hollywood Elementary for the lower grades. The district will use Riverside Elementary for the early child-care program.

A standing-room crowd of nearly 150 attended the board meeting at the district administration building. Several parents asked board members to keep open Lincoln, one of the district's oldest buildings. With about 40 percent of its classroom space in use, it is one of the least utilized.

Board member Dr. Kenneth McNamee, who voted against the consolidation and redistricting proposal, said closing the schools was a drastic measure that could cause overcrowding at the remaining elementaries.

The board is grappling with ways to cut $2 million to $4 million from its budget over the next several years to offset declining student enrollment projections and flattened state revenues.

School officials said under the consolidation, occupancy at the remaining elementaries will reach in excess of 90 percent.

The board also allowed the administration to enter into talks with organizations interested in using the soon-to-be-vacant school buildings.

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