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Long IslandEducation

Sachem board votes to cut costs, close three schools

Sachem Board of Education members voted to close

Sachem Board of Education members voted to close three district schools during a meeting at Samoset Middle School in Ronkonkoma on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

The Sachem school board voted Wednesday night to close three schools in a long anticipated cost-saving move that prompted some parents to leave the meeting visibly disappointed.

School board members, citing declining enrollment and increased costs, voted 6 to 3 to shut down a middle school and two elementary schools as about 400 people looked on at the meeting at Samoset Middle School in Ronkonkoma.

The decision was not popular among parents and some school officials, who voiced their concerns before the board took the vote that many fear could have drastic repercussions for the district. The closures will take place in September.

Speakers cited safety concerns raised by the increased potential caseload that will be handled by nurses assigned to each building, which will have many more children attending.

Some cited the larger class sizes that they said could overwhelm teachers.

“How are the nurses going to take care of all these kids?” said Lisa Miller, who has a 13-year-old son at Sequoya Middle School, which is closing. “The workload will vastly increase for those nurses.”

The other two schools that are closing are Tecumseh Elementary School and Gatelot Avenue elementary school.

Superintendent James L. Nolan said the board was not considering the impact on nurses at the assembly, calling it a separate issue.

But parent Cheryl Martin of Holtsville, who has twin 15-year-old daughters in the district, said she was upset about the lack of busing and after-school programs over the past year and added that she hoped the savings realized from the closings would restore some of those critical services.

“Are you going to give us back our buses and will we have after-school programs?” she asked the board.

Another resident, Joe Gandolfo of Sachem was more blunt, saying the move is ill-advised, will make class sizes balloon and create unsafe conditions.

“It’s a bad idea,” he said, predicting more opportunities for clubs but a lower-quality education.

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