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Lewisboro Elementary School Closure Vote Is Thursday

The fate of Lewisboro Elementary School will be decided Thursday night when the Katonah-Lewisboro School Board votes on potential closing it.
The fate of Lewisboro Elementary School will be decided Thursday night when the Katonah-Lewisboro School Board votes on potential closing it. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – The Katonah-Lewisboro school board will vote Thursday night at John Jay High School on whether or not to close Lewisboro Elementary School for the fall 2014.

A parent-led petition opposing the closure has hit 1,059 signatures. There have been five public hearings held since September, many drawing crowds of more than 100 parents concerned about how closing Lewisboro Elementary would impact their child.

If the school board votes to close the school Thursday, 214 Lewisboro Elementary students would be moved to Increase Miller Elementary, and the remaining 136 would be moved to Meadow Pond, under a tentative redistricting scenario that may still be tweaked. In order to even out class sections under this scenario, 94 Increase Miller Elementary students would be moved to Katonah.

The school board had discussed another redistricting option that would have moved 67 Lewisboro Elementary kids and 46 Increase Miller kids to Katonah. The board decided at its Jan. 9 meeting that moving kids in larger groups would enable them to better transition with more familiar faces in a new school.

School board members Marjorie Schiff and Jake Holbrook have said they will vote against closing Lewisboro Elementary.

The Lewisboro Town Board wrote a letter asking the school board to postpone closing the school, which Town Supervisor Peter Parson read at the fifth and final public hearing Jan. 16.

“It is quite clear that the closing will have some ripple effect throughout the entire district,” he said.

Parsons called Lewisboro Elementary the cornerstone and anchor of the South Salem hamlet, and that closing it would “end the coherence of South Salem as a community.”

The school district has lost about 600 students in the last six years, causing it to run well below capacity. Closing Lewisboro Elementary would save the district about $1.7 million annually, which Board President Charles Day said would go toward funding programs and staff.

Many residents have called the savings a “rounding error” in a budget of about $120 million. Kreutzer said the district’s expenses outpace its revenues every year, which has led to the loss of 140 full-time employees in six years.

The school board meeting Thursday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at John Jay High School, on 60 North Salem Road, Cross River.