After almost 75 years, an elementary school in New Hartford will close its doors at the end of the academic year.
The vote by the town Board of Education to close the Bakerville Consolidated School was unanimous, but some parents are pushing back. They claim the process wasn’t transparent.
Tim Goff, one of those parents, said the school has been there for as long as he can remember.
“My grandmother attended the school. My father attended the school. I attended the school, and now my daughter is attending the school,” he told Eyewitness News.
Goff said his daughter is in first grade. He hoped his son would follow.
However, the board voted in December to shutter the school and turn it over to the town.
The decision leaves New Hartford with two elementary schools serving grades kindergarten through sixth.
"Since then we've kind of pushed back on that decision,” Goff said. “We just don't feel like it was made for the right reasons."
Goff said he and other parents said the reason they were told included declining enrollment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial savings from staff reduction and building costs.
“It's going to be $210,000 in savings, but we really can't seem to find where that number comes from, and that number they came out with, that 210,000, came out about two months after the decision was made,” Goff said.
"We're the taxpayers,” said Tom Buzzi, a parent. “We, ultimately, fund the bill. If it's a small number, a large number, we want to have a say."
Parents said they’re hoping the board will reconsider its decision and put the measure back on the table for another vote.
"That's all we're asking for is put it back on the table,” Goff said. “Let there be more discussion. Let the other people in town have an opportunity to speak on it."
If the vote stands, kindergarteners and first graders will go to New Hartford Elementary School. Second graders will go to the Ann Antolini School.
"It would put a lot of pressure on the other school,” Buzzi said. “New Hartford Elementary would be put to capacity, and it leaves no room for expansion."
Sue Lundin, chairwoman of the board, was not available to speak with Eyewitness News on camera.
However, she listed several reasons that factored into the board’s decision, including overall enrollment, which has declined from about 600 students in 2003 to 500 in 2015.
See those reasons here.
The town said it will hold an advisory referendum on March 15 to give residents an opportunity to vote on the future of the school.
Parents said they hope it will sway the board to vote on the measure again.
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