District to Close 2 Elementary Schools

Board has yet to determine which two, will announce decision on Jan. 12.

In an effort to help the school district find cost savings, the West Islip Board of Education has unanimously decided to close two elementary schools, effective for the 2012-13 school year. 

At a planning session Tuesday night, BOE President Steve Gellar announced the Board's decision in front of a small group of residents inside the high school auditorium. Two weeks after narrowing down their consideration to , the Board chose option 2a, which will save the district an estimated $2.4 million to $3.2 million.

The remaining four elementary schools will continue to hold grades K-5.  Gellar said it has yet to be determined which two schools will close. 

Superintendent Rick Simon said it was an extremely difficult recommendation to make, but credited declining enrollment as a main benefactor. 

"It was not an easy task," he said. "I want to thank the community, I think you’ve heard a lot of compelling arguments. I think it's what’s best educationally for our students and fiscally for our community.  

"I think it’s the least disruptive to students. We know that our K-5 enrollment will decline over the next few years. While it will be a little bit of a tight fit at first, each year after that will get more comfortable."

Gellar announced the Board's decision following the public speaking portion of the meeting, where several parents stated their case against closing certain schools.

The Board will announce their final closing decision at a meeting on January 12. 

"This is not a decision I thought I’d face sitting on the Board of Education," said Annmarie Larosa, vice president.  "As this process moves forward, it is my hope that the community continues to be part of this process."

LITTLE INDIAN December 02, 2011 at 01:40 AM
LITTLE INDIAN December 02, 2011 at 01:58 AM
One last thought where is MARESCA with his brilliant thoughts!!!
ConcernedMama December 02, 2011 at 03:31 PM
@ Robert, from looking at the enrollment numbers that the board presented, I don't believe there is anyway they couldn't rezone, especially with closing 2 ES. If they don't some of the schools could be a 100%+ capacity, and from what they were saying 80% is the goal. I don't think that many kids won't be affected by the changes, either by there school closing and going to a new school, our being rezoned into a new school. Hopefully it will be done in a thoughtful way that keeps neighborhoods together, so our children and preserve some of their original school friendships.
Pauline Smith December 02, 2011 at 03:34 PM
The comment has been made that ES children are better able to adapt to change and would be less emotionally impacted than older children. Whenever my children bring up the subject of their school possibly closing their eyes literally fill with tears. They are very attached to their amazing school, wonderful teachers, awesome principal, close friends and dedicated staff (I don't bring up the subject with them but they invariably hear about it at school.) Also, I'm concerned that the upper elementary school children who will be affected by the change next year will also likely have to face another change, if eventually a middle school closes in the near future(The Superintendent has stated that by the year 2014 there will only be enough middle school students living in West Islip to fill one middle school.). I feel so disheartened and disappointed that the BOE has failed to respond to the concerns of so many parents with elementary school children.
Irene December 02, 2011 at 03:36 PM
Excellent, so true!
Wendy Regan December 02, 2011 at 03:57 PM
A quick thought about the recent decision...We all know that one middle school is located in the 'south' part of town and the other middle school is located in the 'north' part of town. Although it would have saved the district more $ to close a middle school, perhaps (I SAID PERHAPS) a more serious consideration was given as to how HALF the town would voting this spring if the middle school in their part of town was the one being closed. Let's not forget there's alot a stake in voting this spring.I have a strong feeling the district will make a major push to have the town vote to override the 2% tax cap. There's also two boe seats to vote on as well as the budget itself. Common sense would say that If a middle school was chosen to be closed, HALF of the town would automatically cast a NO vote to overriding the tax cap, boe incumbents and the budget.
Irene December 02, 2011 at 04:01 PM
What? You aren't implying they are self serving are you? lol
Rick December 02, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Jessica people aren't worried about your one daughter, there looking at the community as a whole, im sorry her schools closing but she has to learn to deal with it
Rich December 03, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Let's both sides compromise. Whether you like their decision or if you feel something not quite right due to the change in BOE vote date, rumors of BOE members speaking of a decision being made months ago, additional money being saved by closing a MS rather than the second ES, and the emotional trauma to the younger children. Please everyone drop Newsday and news12 and email and ask them to look into this vote. If everything was done correctly, great. If not then the whole thing should be reopened. Both are objective and the have access to legal professionals and professionals from other school distriicts.
Merrick7 December 03, 2011 at 07:42 PM
you should have closed not only the two elementary but also one of the middle schools. All schools should operate at a min. 85 percent. It will not affect instruction or students character for a school to be closed down. Parents put way too much stock in this. I understand especially on the south shore all of our communities value our schools above all else, rather than commercial strips or anything else, but we must realize the education component is the most important. West Islip is a wonderful educational district. Thanks to involved parents and I would assume its teachers. To be one of the few on Long Island with a IB and AP program speaks volumes. Like the East Williston district West Islip is one of the best and constantly overlooked.
Carol Rindos December 05, 2011 at 12:03 AM
ELLA December 12, 2011 at 03:22 AM
To Superintendent Simon and the West Islip School Board, I always read the Patch, but have never felt the need to comment on a thread before. I am the parent of 3 former Oquenock students, who are now in middle school and high school. I have watched the parents from Oquenock get bashed for caring about their school and not wanting it to close and I do understand that everyone wants their school to stay open. However, after yet another tragedy that has fallen upon this school, I feel that I must comment on what sets Oquenock above the others. Yes, all schools have caring parents and wonderful teachers. Yes, we do need to close 2 schools to save money. Yes, Oquenock and Westbrook have the same number of classrooms. - - - -Continued below - - - -
ELLA December 12, 2011 at 03:24 AM
---- Continued---- However, there is one thing that sets Oquenock above the other schools and binds the Oquenock community (teachers and parents) together… shared grief. Within the past 10 years, there have now been 4 children who have died tragically young from that school. You cannot imagine the bond that forms within a community as you support each other in a time of grief. There are 3 beautiful trees, unfortunately soon to be 4, planted in school-wide dedications to those children in beautiful courtyard settings. You can talk about closing schools to save money, but what happens to those trees? What happens to the bonds that help support those parents? I, for one, am proud to be a member of a community unlike any other in this town. And for the parents that will criticize this for being about “trees”, be thankful that you’ve never dealt with what those “trees” symbolize to us!
Jessica Horvath December 12, 2011 at 03:38 AM
Again Rick, get a clue. I brought up my daughter as an example. Whose child should I have brought up? There are plenty of other children who are not resilient, which is my point. I don't expect you to configure the entire school district around my one daughter. My daughter is merely an example of a child that is not resilient. Mr. Simon and the BOE like to generalize that all ES students are so resilient. I am here to tell you that all of them are not. There are plenty who will have problems with this change and my oldest child happens to be one of them. Perhaps Mr. Simon can talk her into getting on the bus every morning when she's crying? Oh wait, no, I'm the one who has to deal with that, so excuse me for standing up for my daughter and all other ES students who will have a problem with this ridiculous decision they have made. There was no reason to yet again take from Elementary schools. There were other things they could have done.
Jessica Horvath December 12, 2011 at 03:39 AM
well marianne your argument goes both ways. Likewise the MS children wouldn't have had a problem, so please get over yourself.
Jessica Horvath December 12, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Well Wendy a good majority of the town is going to definitely say NO to the BOE when it comes time to budget votes and tax cap votes. That much I am sure of.
Jessica Horvath December 12, 2011 at 03:59 AM
Well I wonder where "Sally" went??? Miraculously, all of Sally's comments attacking me have disappeared??? Where did you go "Sally" ???? I asked you a question? Is it about the money or about what was best educationally for the children? You stated that the 6th grade couldn't go back to the ES because it cost too much. I wonder why that could be a consideration, because supposedly it wasn't about the money, but rather what was the most "educationally sound" decision. Because if it was about the money, you should have voted to close 1 MS and 1 ES. But you didn't??? Why not? Just so everyone knows, "Sally" indicated that we couldn't bring 6th grade back to the ES because of money. My argument to that is that the money we would have had to spend to bring the 6th grade back to ES should have been included in the money we would save - that is, the money saved should have been reflected in our savings. We should have, in coming up with the numbers, subtracted the amount of money we would have had to spend from the amount we would save....If we didn't do that, well, we are in more trouble than I care to think about, because these BOE members are all full of crap. They had the bullseye on Captree and Oquenock 2 years ago, and no study group was going to change their minds. Now, all of a sudden all of "sally's" comments have been deleted, and the entire threads that followed have been deleted as well. This just gets curiouser and curiouser.
Gerry December 12, 2011 at 04:41 AM
No disrespect, Ella, but tragedies have hit other schools, too.That is not a reason to leave a school open. I, myself, know of two cuurent elementary schools that have students fighting cancer. The students and faculty there are just as special as at Oquenock. Westbrook has had two former students pass away from cancer in the past year and I am sure other schools have had to deal with horrible tragedies also. We should respond as a community and help all families through tragic times, but it is not a reason to keep a school open.
Jessica Horvath December 12, 2011 at 01:19 PM
This thread is inappropriate. This shouldn't be discussed here. Please just stop.
Marianne Bowden December 12, 2011 at 01:33 PM
You are right this is inappropriate and perhaps you shoud go back and reread your post especially the disgusting 2 word phrase you used in the first sentence and then delete your post. Your post is exactly what we were talking about. How trivial this crap is compared to what real life is. I will say nothing more on this matter. God Bless that family.
Sally December 12, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Jessica, let's get a few things straight. To begin with, I have deleted nothing. As a matter of fact super-sleuth, If you go back and check, you will see that all of your posts for the week of December 5th, also do not appear on this thread. Second, I do not see an actual question. Third, I did not say "You stated that the 6th grade couldn't go back to the ES because it cost too much". What I pointed out was that bringing 6th grade back to ES and attempting to provide the opportunities they have today from an educational and social perspective would be detrimental financially from the obvious goal of reducing our tax burden BUT operationally would simply not be possible. Fourth, please educate yourself on the options presented. Option 9 did NOT include providng the same educational opportunities that the 6th grade has access to today. If option 9 went forward, then the 6th grade would lose all those opportunities as option 9 would have 6th grade back in ES regurgitating the 5th grade. In order to provide those opportunities at the ES level, it would absolutely cut into the "savings" you are soooo concerned about and cannot be executed operationally. By your logic, it would be perfectly fine to "sacrifice" the current 5th grade and limit their opportunities as long as your children do not get moved to another school. Well, Jessica, I have a 5th grader and guess what? I do not want him to stay in ES. I do not want to limit HIS opportunities to satisfy you.
Sally December 12, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Furthermore, "I" did not vote on anything and how could you POSSIBLY know that the BOE had targeted Captree and Oquenock? Oh, yea, right, that oh-so-reliable rumor-mill and rhetoric you are so fond of.............you sound like an idiot. Lastly, instead of your sanctimonious, self-serving, self-absorbed ranting that you are so fond of, how about you do something more productive with your time. As with all tragedies, it should drive home what is important in this life, and what school your kid goes to is not one of them. Give your kids a hug and be thankful for that blessing and stop trying to pick fights on patch.
Marianne Bowden December 12, 2011 at 03:57 PM
I have decided that I no longer wish to be a part of this conversation about anything that has to do with the BOE or the school closings. It has become less of a place to have a repectful back and forth to a place where certain people just want to pick fights and take over the entire forum. I have deleted my posts (yes I know some of you still have the email alerts to them) and I will go back to what is important in my life. Peace, Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all of you.
nancy December 12, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Sally-arguing with some people is like banging your head against the wall. I'm so tired of the vitriolic and cantankerous attitudes that are dividing my community; a community that I have been proud to live in for the last forty-five years. If people had students going into middle school, they'd be on the other side of the argument. I went to Oquenock, taught at Oquenock, went to Udall, taught at Beach, and my children now go to Beach. There are warm and caring teachers and families in all our buildings. I saw first hand how Bellew families and staff reached out to a family in crisis last year. Tragedy knows no boundaries and many of our West Islip families have suffered great loss. I'm going to count my blessings and get off of Patch now. I just can't read it anymore. I just don't understand why we can't come together and move on to the next phase in our decision making.
nancy December 12, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Right there with you Marianne.....Merry Christmas. IMO (I'm moving on)
Sally December 12, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Same goes............said my piece and I'm out. May all have a Happy and Healthy New Year................
dorothy December 12, 2011 at 06:02 PM
Jessica, I would not try to tell anyone what is appropriate after what you wrote about Bellew last week and the children. You are applauded by many around for fighting for your "great" school, who can blame any mom for wanting the most for her children. But should not be so quick to criticize other "great" schools. Your fight is almost done here but if you really want to tackle an issue why don't you see how many West Islip residents would be willing to campaign to get the voters to exceed the 2% cap to cover some of the costs and save an elementary school. To Sally, Nancy and Marianne well said. Many of us are understanding of the fact that 2 elementary schools would be hard, but at the same time I am all for leaving our middle schools in place as I have a 5th and 6th grader and would not want them "held back" and feel with all we pay the kids should have it all around here even Sports. I personally find giving any point of view here a waste of time on a subject that has been decided. Wishing EVERYONE peaceful holidays.
Irene December 12, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Jessica Horvath December 12, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Excuse me, Dorothy, what did I write about Bellew? That I have a safety issue with it?That it was zoned for commercial use already?I never said anything negative against Bellew. I truly do feel nervous driving by Bellew when I see kids on the playground! Is that bashing Bellew? Actually, it is a genuine concern for your kids who are in there. You have got to be kidding me. I have never bashed any school. I don't know what you are talking about. And Dorothy, I wouldn't vote out the tax cap even to save an ES. That's ridiculous.
Jessica Horvath December 12, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Yes I saw they were also removed because they were on the thread that you started, so when you delete it everything goes away with it. Strange that you would delete it is all I am saying. It's a valid point that the money you would have had to spend to reconfigure everything would have been factored into the equation. Unless of course there is some other motive and they were never goingto consider option 9A to begin with.


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