Maybe Meagher will close, but maybe it won’t. Maybe other elementary schools will join it. Nobody really knows.
The grade-school redistricting discussion in the Kingston City School District remained mired in confusion this week after the Kingston Board of Education pooh-poohed outgoing Superintendent Gerard Gretzinger’s latest draft of a plan to close Frank L. Meagher Elementary school at the end of the current academic year.
Though the school board believes it needs a comprehensive redistricting plan to tackle a dwindling student population — and begin to address a drop in revenues that is only partly the result of the attendance issue — Gretzinger hoped that the Meagher portion of the plans could be settled last Wednesday.
The meeting was the last as superintendent for Gretzinger, who had pushed to get something done before his retirement two days later. In simple terms, Gretzinger’s plan would have split the current student population at Meagher roughly down the middle, with half moving to John F. Kennedy Elementary and half to Edward R. Crosby Elementary. The closure of Meagher under those terms has been estimated to save the district $704,952; Gretzinger said he hoped the board would agree to the plan as it would not only allow the transportation department to begin the lengthy process of determining effective bus routes but would also give the families and staff at the school a further step in coming to grips with what happens next for them.
Instead, myriad possibilities are still on the table, with at least two trustees favoring delaying the Meagher closure until next year. That scenario seems less likely than others, said school board President James Shaughnessy.
“I don’t think that is widespread among the other board members,” he said. “I don’t think that is a decision that is going to be made, to not close Meagher.”
Trustee Chris Farrell agreed, adding that he feels the district needs to at the very least continue with its plans to close Meagher, a decision approved by the board last spring.
“If that comes to be, I’m done with the board, frankly,” Farrell said. “It’s ridiculous if we go backwards. The reality is that at least one school needs to be closed, and I hope the board doesn’t retract that closure.”
Slideshow image: A girl at last year’s Zena Winter Carnival rolls a die. (Photo by Dan Barton)