Three middle schools will remain in operation for the 2012-13 school year, as the Board of Education voted to keep South Ocean and Oregon middle schools open in a 5-1-1 vote Monday night at .
“The middle schools are not like a high school, you can't take the kids and put them all in one spot and put them in an environment that is very close to the high school,” said trustee Thomas Donofrio. “We have seven elementary schools for a reason, we have three middle schools for a reason.”
Trustees Donofrio, Anthony O'Brien, Donald Atkins, Joseph LoSchiavo and Anthony Russo all voted in support of keeping the schools open. Trustee Brett Houdek abstained and William LaVelle voted against.
The board began discussing the possibility of closing one or more schools , when a recent study conducted by Western Suffolk BOCES on the district's demographics and facilities showed that all three middle schools are operating at 50 percent capacity or lower, with those figures expected to drop even further through 2020. A possible plan to close just South Ocean Middle School was presented at a budget workshop .
Houdek and LaVelle have said in a and in budget workshops that they hoped money saved by closing two schools could be reinvested to prevent teacher layoffs and in educational programs.
Houdek told Patch after the meeting that despite the lack of school closures, he tasks the board to find a way to prevent the yearly loss of teaching positions in the district.
“The board needs to address that in this budget cycle,” Houdek said.
Donna Jones, the district's assistant superintendent of business, announced Monday that the proposed 2012-13 school budget does call for the elimination of eight teaching positions in the district, four of which will be through attrition. This adds to the 56 positions lost the previous year as a result of state's looming two-percent tax cap.
The Board of Education workshop brought out roughly 400 people packing out Saxton’s auditorium.
The next Board of Education Business meeting is scheduled for March 19 at . Public session is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.