Long Beach school board spares East Elementary

This January 2013 photo shows East Elementary School

This January 2013 photo shows East Elementary School in Long Beach. (Credit: Google Maps)

The Long Beach school board Wednesday night spared East Elementary School from a threatened closure -- a cost-cutting move opposed by hundreds of parents.

Options considered by the district included closing the school and reorganizing the district; turning the school into an administration building; reorganizing the district and keeping East open; or doing nothing.

Repurposing the 361-student school would have saved the district the most money, officials said.


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But that option was taken off the table when three members of the five-member board said at a special meeting Wednesday night that they support maintaining the status quo.

Risa Lewak, who has a daughter who attends East Elementary, said the board's decision is a win for the community.

"My daughter is happy there. Her happiness is my happiness," she said.

School board member Roy J. Lester said the board had been scheduled to make a final decision on Feb. 11 but chose to meet sooner due to community concern.

"This is such a volatile issue; let's try to move it as quickly as we can," Lester, who favors a district reorganization, said before the meeting.

The meeting was held at Long Beach Middle School in Lido Beach. The board will still meet Feb. 11, but school closures are no longer part of the budget-balancing strategy.

The district has fewer than 3,600 students. Superintendent David Weiss said the district has looked at restructuring because enrollment is down more than 600 students from a decade ago.

Parents opposed closing East Elementary over concerns about a ripple effect of crowded classrooms elsewhere and disrupting students adjusting to Common Core academic standards.

Others said the 88-year-old school building is a fixture in the community and better serves the neighborhood as a school than an administration building.

Point Lookout resident Leah Enfield, who has children who attend East Elementary, said the controversy about whether the school would close has caused parents a lot of stress in recent weeks.

"Until things get back to normal, everyone is on edge," she said.

The Half Hollow Hills school district, also grappling with school closures due to declining enrollment, decided to close two of its seven elementary schools at the end of the school year.

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