Directors: Keep Currier open

DANBY - Union District 23's Board of School Directors concluded on Tuesday that it would not be financially wise to close Currier Memorial School in Danby.

"I had asked the Superintendednt in the last meeting if he had information as to the rammifications if we closed the school," said board member George McNeill. "Since I had been hearing this for the past 20 years, I wanted to know if there was any validity in this idea."

McNeill said that once they were given the figures of closing the school, versus keeping it open, their decision became clear.

"Once we looked at transportation for students [to other schools], the teachers... and if there was another school that could take on the increased number of students and faculty," said McNeill, "it was clear... it was not a viable option."

In a report by Superintendent Dan French, it was discovered that if the school was to close, it would actually increase the town's tax by 38 cents. "I approached it as how it would look from a purely financial perspective," said French, "and closing was definitely not a good financial decision." French explained that his report found that Danby would see an increase in spending of $146,000, and simultaneously a loss of $114,000 in revenue if the school was to close.

"When you increase spending an decrease your revenue, you have to start relying on taxes," said French.

After the idea of closing the school was deemed not in their best interests, French was asked what their other options are.

He gave one model that involved turning Currier Memorial School, into a grades pre-k through fourth grade. This would then lead to grades five and six being sent to another district at a regular middle school.

"If the amount of students stay the same but you play with the cost, you begin to impact your taxes," said French. "If you decrease the cost and increase the amount of students... such as putting more students in a district it becomes different."

This model would involve merging or rearranging the school districts around to take on the extra students from the upper two grades at Currier Memorial.

"From an education standpoint it makes sense," French said of changing the districts. "And it has a greater impact on early education." All of the other options that French proposed were presented as hypothetical models; the board asked him to continue to work on these models and turn them into models they could potentially use.

Currier is not the first school in the area to consider the budgeting behind closing a school and tuitioning its students to other area schools. "About five years ago we looked at Sunderland's concerns about closing," said French.

At the time, Sunderland's enrollment was low and their taxes were around $1.60.

Since the discussion, and the subsequent decision to stay open, their enrollment has almost doubled and their taxes are down to $1.20.


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