Keeping Center Street open isn't a good idea
There has been much discussion and criticism concerning the proposal to close Center Street School. Please consider the following when voting on Proposition 1.
First, the school closure would only affect about 150 students, less than 20 percent of all elementary students.
Keeping the school open requires over $6,000 additionally for each affected student (versus the baseline budget allocation of approximately $17,000 per student).
Second, school supporters have implied that the real solution is to cut other parts of the budget or increase state aid.
At the budget hearing May 2, Oneonta school officials acknowledged that decreasing enrollment (occurring for more than a decade) will eventually cause the school to be closed.
Should the voters approve Proposition 1 to keep the school open, the school would be closed regardless in as little as three years.
Third, contrary to what one writer expressed in The Daily Star, this is not a one-time funding allocation.
It is a one-time vote.
If Proposition 1 is approved, then the 5.15 percent tax increase becomes a permanent part of the budget.
It will not be separately voted upon again, but the additional $931,000 raised will be part of the baseline budget for the future, just as previous year tax increases have been.
Fourth, at the budget hearing, Lisa Weeks, the school's business manager, provided a handout listing benefits to closing the school, including better standardization of curricula and technology, and additional support for students.
In summary, the voters are being asked to approve a significant tax increase for a small group of students to stay in a school that will need to be closed within a few years, anyway.
This does not seem to me like a good proposition to approve.
Close school, use money for courses
Center Street School parents, with loud city council members, whine over the planned closing of that school; they want us all to pay much bigger taxes to finance their school, despite Center Street's small population and lower enrollment across the district. Superintendent Michael Shea cut music, science, math and foreign languages, citing reduced enrollment.
The board ignored protests about these important learning programs, yet, it allowed a loud group to demand a vote for big tax increases.
Taxes to help raise $1 million to keep a building open.
Not programs, not courses, a building! Closing that school will prevent outrageous tax increases, and money will become available for revitalized and improved music, science and math programs at all levels and more AP classes at OHS.
These sobbing parents, apparently rich, too, spread their "yes" information about the schools, on red papers that cost over $1 per sheet to print. We've spread info on no, no, no, using paper that costs 9 cents per sheet, or less, evidence of spending plans.
$1 million? Shea has received about $1 million in salary over his six years here, with board approval. Salaries of the 10 highest-paid school administrators, directors and teachers here total far more than $1 million (seeThroughNY.net).
Sadly, the teachers released, due to Center Street closing, will be the lowest paid persons.
However, many schools across the country are closing because of reduced enrollment, regardless of neighborhoods. Some reopen; some, like Fairfield, Conn., open and close as needed.
Center Street building is beautiful; someone can create a private school, (or perhaps a new business to produce tax revenue). We decline the demand to pay hundreds more in taxes to keep that building open. Vote no, no, no.
Looking at both sides of Center Street issue
I can empathize with the parents and children of the Center Street School. However, the realities of the situation are much different than their perception.
The proponents of keeping CSS open apparently feel it would be detrimental to their children's education to close the school. The five- to 10-minute bus ride to the other schools is relatively small compared to other students who may ride a bus for 30 minutes or more. The three other schools have the same good teachers as found at CSS.
If neighborhood schools were paramount to a good education, we would still have one-room school buildings.
The argument that closing it would ruin the neighborhood is simply unfounded. The center city faces higher fuel, maintenance and taxes. Keep raising their taxes and their house value will decline.
This is not a tax increase for just one year.
Multiply it over 10 years or more and then realize how much is taken from your budget.
A budget is a list of priorities.
We all know that educational costs are going to continually increase.
Keeping an older under-enrolled school building could jeopardize other programs. Will we continue kindergarten programs since they are not state-mandated?
Why teach calculus? Do we really want engineers and scientists?
Or maybe we should drop athletic programs or music and art?
When we compare these priorities with the closing of the Center Street School, I think most taxpayers would vote no and close the school as a means to sustain good educational programs in the Oneonta District without breaking the taxpayers.
Vote yes to keep Center Street open
Hello. I am a student of Center Street Elementary. I know that there is a possibility that we could close Center Street. I am unhappy, and wish there could be another way.
Center Street has been my school for four years.
I love Center Street and don't want it to close. I pray every night that 60 percent of voters will choose "yes" instead of "no."
I have heard from my parents that it will only cost maybe $100 or less to keep the school open and keep specials for all of our schools.
Please, please, please, find kindness in your heart and keep our wonderful, thriving schools open.
As the election draws nearer, please think about all this, the cost, the children and the happiness that you will see on our faces when Center Street is still open.
Thank you so very, very much, and remember to vote yes Tuesday!
Eva is a third-grader at Center Street Elementary.