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Wappingers Central School District considers closing up to two schools

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Albany/HV: Wappingers Central School District considers closing up to two schools
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Citing decreasing enrollment, Wappingers Central School District is considering closing up to two of its ten elementary schools. YNN's John Wagner has the story.

WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. -- Wappingers schools say costs are rising, enrollment is declining and in order to keep from cutting educational programs, they need to cut schools. Wappingers Elementary buildings now sit under capacity by 1,300 students.

"After 15 years of steady decline, we're looking at going from a district at well over 12,000 to a district of about 10,300," said Marco Pochintesta, Superintendent of Wappingers Central School District.

Wappingers School Board President Ved Shravah says closing a school or two is not just a question of saving money, but a question of wasting money. The district rents space for administration offices and an alternative high school that could both be moved into one closed building.

The district spends around $900,000 a year renting the office, Orchard View High School and a bus depot.

Pochintesta said, "We can count on the price of doing business to go up. We have to become creative to find ways to manage."

“It's a big deal to take any child and move them into an unfamiliar environment where they have to forge new friendships and alliances," said Charlie Moore, a parent of an elementary student.

Parents at James Evans Elementary are worried their school with under 400 kids will get mixed in with another that already has 800 students.

Moore said, “Children who are getting more individualized attention are going to get lost in the current."

"They just need to manage their money better and then it wouldn't affect the kids way down at the bottom rungs," said Jessica Morales, a parent of an elementary student.

The superintendent is working to decide which schools make the most sense to merge in the fall. But if closing a school requires redistricting, he may postpone a year.

"At that point, it would be my recommendation that what we need to have is a long range strategic plan," Pochintesta said.

"They want to save money, I'll say it like any other constituent” Moore said. “Cut your own salary first and don't shortchange my child's education."

In mid to late March, a recommendation will be announced and the final decision will be up to the school board.

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