Enfield parents present petition to keep school open - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Enfield parents present petition to keep school open

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Nathan Hale School  (WFSB file photo) Nathan Hale School (WFSB file photo)

Parents in Enfield used a last ditch effort to keep Nathan Hale Elementary open despite the school board's vote on Tuesday night to close it. 

Along with challenging the legality of the vote, they presented a petition on Wednesday.

"It's bigger than Nathan Hale for me," said Marcy Taliceo, a parent. "It's the overall educational system. It's these impulsive decisions to put band-aids on things that need bigger fixing. Just closing a school is not going to solve our educational problems. It's bigger than that.”

Parents took action last night in the meeting and then brought a petition with more than 1,000 signatures to the town Board of Education on Wednesday morning.

Tuesday's packed board meeting was supposed to result in action one way or another regarding the future of the popular school. 

Board members voted 5 to 4 to close Nathan Hale, a move expected to save the district $250,000. However, a former board member said the vote did not count.

"The vote is 'yes or no' and we had a board member, Ray Peabody, said 'affirmative.' That is not a 'yes' or a 'no.'" said Elizabeth Davis, a parent.

Davis was among the parents furious over calls to close the school. She said she signed the petition.

She was vocal at previous meetings and brought the petition to the board on Wednesday.

In a statement on Wednesday, Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Schumann said "the Board's attorney has informed us that a board member responding 'affirmative' would not invalidate the vote. The entire Board clearly understood the the member was voting in favor of the motion."

Many parents said the decision to close it had nothing to do with what's best for the children and included putting them in larger classes and forcing some to be bused further from home.

"It is a community. It is small but intimate and the teachers are wonderful and they are truly dedicated," Taliceo said.

Parents said with the reorganization and closures of other schools such as Enrico Fermi High School, it underscores the need for a long term education plan.

"The petition is not to close Nathan Hale or any schools in our town until the Board of [Education] hands over a long term educational plan for the education in town, which we don't have," Davis added.

One board member told Eyewitness News that she and her colleagues have agonized over this decision for weeks, but enrollment became the deciding factor.

Keeping it open would cost $325,000.

Board members said they believe the vote was legal, but are checking with counsel to verify it.

Superintendent Jeffrey Schumann said he believes the vote will stand.

"The actual wording a 'yes' or a 'no,' doesn't make that determination," he said. "I think the board has made its decision and we're going to move on and consolidate these schools and move on.”

Nathan Hale is expected to close in September. 

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