Guest post by Leah Enfield.
Residents beware! Changes proposed by the Long Beach Board of Education are short sighted and harmful for students and the community alike. Five potential plans are claimed to save between $600,000 and 1.6 million dollars of the school’s $123.8 million budget. This works out to save approximately 1% of the entire budget.
A budget shortfall and declining enrollment has prompted the administration to consider reconfiguring the four elementary schools in Long Beach. Option A or “Status Quo” would leave the current school buildings in tact. Two options include closing East School; Option B would relocate 360 students and place them in the remaining 3 elementary schools. While option E would place all Pre K-2nd graders in Lido or West School while all 3rd-5th graders would be housed in Lindell School. East School would be repurposed as an administration building at a cost of more than $2 million dollars.
As a concerned citizen, I am forced to ask the administration whether they have done their due diligence in researching all of the options and their ramifications?
Is a 1% savings worth…
• Potential depreciation of the East End Long Beach neighborhood?
• Compromising neighborhood safety when a school no longer houses students?
• Increasing class size, a byproduct of combining schools, while teachers and students are grappling with the more rigorous core curriculum standards?
• Less support staff for all elementary students? (School nurse, Social worker, etc.)
• Potential traffic disruption and increased costs due to the community school model being destroyed?
• Increased transitions of students between their Pre-K through 5th grade years.
• Complicating the logistics of having siblings at separate schools?
• Firing less senior staff and teachers across the district?
• Risking children’s social and emotional well being after being displaced by Superstorm Sandy?
• Investing over $2 million dollars to repurpose offices for approximately 30 administrators at a cost of nearly $70,000 per administrator?
If planning for future generations of Long Beach students and sustainability is a priority, as Superintendent Weiss has stated, he and the school board must consider two recent developments.
Governor Cuomo has proposed a 4% increase in school aid. Shouldn’t the board wait to see how this money will affect their budget before voting to repurpose the schools?
Also, the Long Beach Superblock site will be developed. Currently, a prominent developer is planning a 450 unit apartment building plus hotel. If each apartment averages only 1 child this would more than exceed the student population at East School. If developers believe in the city of Long Beach, shouldn’t the school board?
I urge the Long Beach Board of Education to Vote for Option A, Status Quo. A vote to change school structure at this time fulfills the notion that Long Beach is a city in decline. It is a vote against the city of Long Beach.
The Long Beach BOE is scheduled to vote in early February for one of the five plans. There are too few opportunities for residents to be heard, ask questions or attend meetings before the vote.
I ask all residents to be present on Tuesday, January 21st at 7pm at the Long Beach Middle School. No matter what side of the issue you are on it is imperative to attend and ask the important questions.