CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – A State Education Department (SED) appeals coordinator denied a request by parents to place a “stay” on the Katonah-Lewisboro school board’s decision to close Lewisboro Elementary School for the 2014-15 school year.
The petition requesting the stay was filed in late February and argues that the decision to close the school had no rational basis. It asks that any action related to the closure of Lewisboro Elementary be halted.
The petitioners also asked the Commissioner to reverse the decision altogether, which has not yet been decided.
"We thank the Commissioner for the expedited response to this appeal and are encouraged that he found no basis to establish the stay," said Charles Day, president of the Board of Education. "While we recognize that the petition to the Commissioner regarding the decision is still to be argued on its merits, we are confident that the Board has followed all required SED procedures and will ultimately prevail in the matter."
Jennifer Cayea, one of the petitioners, said they expected the stay would be denied, but felt it was necessary because of their concerns about the decision to close an elementary school.
She said they now look forward to the education commissioner's review of their request to set aside the school board's decision to close.
"We remain confident in the merits of the petition, which affirms that the Board of Education egregiously misrepresented facts related to the financial condition of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District and reveals significant flaws in the Board-hired demographer's data and methodology--two factors that undermine the BOE's main arguments for closing Lewisboro Elementary," she said.
Districtwide enrollment has dropped from a high of 4,112 students in 2002 to 3,374 in 2013-14. A demographic study projects that trend will continue in the coming years.
Closing Lewisboro Elementary will result in a recurring savings of about $1.7 million, not including the attrition of staff that would have happened regardless of a school closure, according to the district.
Day has said that 89 percent of classes in the remaining three elementary schools would be at or under the goal of 20 students for kindergarten-through-second grade and 25 for third-through-fifth grade.