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Niskayuna looking at closing Van Antwerp Middle School

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Albany/HV: Niskayuna looking at closing Van Antwerp Middle School
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Hundreds of parents showed up to a meeting about possibly closing a middle school in the Niskayuna School District. Innae Park has more on the meeting to discuss the possible closing of Van Antwerp Middle School.

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. -- From students to teachers and of course parents, many called on the Niskayuna Central School District to keep Van Antwerp Middle School open.

“So many schools are struggling. Why would you end something that's a success?” asked parent Theresa Healey.

“We've made almost $12 million in reductions over the last four years in Niskayuna. We wouldn't be looking at closing them if we thought we had other good options,” said Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio.

But this is why the option's on the table. With a $4.3 million deficit, the school board is considering a consolidation of the middle schools at Iroquois, with sixth graders returning to elementary school. VA would be rented out for revenue.

“The hope is that we might use it again or we find it to be something that could be rented,” Salvaggio said.

The board discussed its middle school vision since June of last year. They argue the benefits of consolidating: Like program consistency, fewer shared teachers and more chances to socialize with peers before high school. They also expect to save $800,000, but that's only 20 percent of the gap.

Those who love VA say it can't be replaced.

“I just love it. The teachers are great. I've learned so much,” sixth grader George Tsakalakos said.

“I want my brother and sister to have the same experience as I did and I hope it gets better from here,” said sixth grader Gabriel Nish.

The board will be meeting next week to discuss the public input and answer some of the questions posed Monday night. They plan to visit other districts with K-6 schools to see how their programs work.

The board has until March to make a decision. Then their proposal will go to the district for a vote.

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