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City of Tonawanda to vote on consolidating to one elementary school

The district currently has three
Proposal to consolidate elementary schools in the City of Tonawanda
Posted at 6:05 PM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-03 18:05:32-04

CITY OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — The City of Tonawanda school board approved a plan to consolidate from three elementary schools to one.

Timothy Oldenburg, the Superintendent of the City of Tonawanda, said the cost to repair the districts three elementary schools would cost about $70 million. Instead of going down that road, the school board hopes to consolidate by closing Riverview Elementary School and Mullen Elementary School, and have all students attend Fletcher Elementary School.

"This capital project of $53.4 million will allow, in a more cost effective way, over a longer period of time, to be able to meet those needs and change our footprint in a proactive way," said Oldenburg.

Oldenburg said the repairs stem from a state mandated 2015 building survey.

Under the proposed TONA2020 plan, parts of Fletcher would be renovated, and some parts would be completely new like playgroungs, a parking lot, and the field. Oldenburg said Fletcher was picked as the school that would remain partially due to it's size, and also due to its proximity to the high school campus and those facilities.

Heather Sternin, the president of the school board, said she recognizes change can be hard.

"As a person who graduated from Tonawanda schools, I realize that it's hard to lose your neighborhood school," she said.

She said, however, that the TONA2020 plan is what will allow the programs and education quality in the district to stay the same.

Enrollment has dropped nearly 20% over the past 15 years (2,250 to 1,810), according to the district.

The plan goes to a public vote on October 22nd, and needs a 60% yes vote to go into effect.

"If this project fails, it will require the district to make substantial cuts to programs, to staffing, and to the way that we do business," said Oldenburg.

If the plan passes all students would be under Fletcher's roof for the fall of 2023.