And so the decision has been made.
After months of public discussion and a plethora of input from education experts and West Islip residents, the Board of Education has chosen to close and .
In the 50-plus year history of the West Islip School District, this was one of those few-and-far-between sad days. It was a decision that clearly every board member wrestled with and was one that I’m sure none wanted to make.
But difficult decisions are like that. And this board had the courage to not only broach the subject of school closings, but also ultimately make a decision that will impact many students, parents, faculty, staff and taxpayers.
Since the results of the , which consisted of more than 30 members of the community, were released this past fall, there has been much discussion over what direction the Board of Education would choose as it related to school closures.
Sadly, we heard and read a plethora of personal attacks against BOE trustees who were focused on trying to do the right thing for West Islip as a whole. But there were no hidden agendas nor were there any ulterior motives. It was merely about doing what was best for the community as a whole.
But while there is little that can be done to change what was said in the past, there is much we can do to change the tenor of the conversation going forward.
While the community needs to take a moment to catch its collective breath and digest the decision, we also need to regroup and come together for the betterment of our kids.
At a time when a Board of Education here or in another community is contemplating closing schools, there becomes an “us vs. them” mentality that pits school vs. school within a community. There are many reasons why this happens, but ultimately this should be about helping our neighbors and our kids get through this difficult time.
Hilary Clinton was once ridiculed for her comment that it takes a village to raise a child. But really, she couldn’t be more correct.
West Islip kids from north and south, east and west compete together in sports, play together in band and orchestra and sing and dance together in Vocal Motion.
We need to keep this spirit of togetherness our kids show us daily in the forefront when youngsters from Kirdahy, Westbrook and others that are impacted by redistricting attend their new elementary school for the first time in September.
I can say with a great deal of confidence that the principals, teachers and most importantly the children at the four remaining elementary schools will welcome the “new” students to their school with open arms.
After all, isn’t that what being a community is really all about?
Greg Sleter is a Regional Editor for Patch.com and a West Islip resident. The opinions in this column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch.com.