An undated file photo of a school bus on Long...

An undated file photo of a school bus on Long Island. Credit: Newsday

Two middle schools in the Patchogue-Medford district that had been looked at for possible closure will stay open after board members approved a measure at their Monday meeting.

Tuesday, board president Anthony O'Brien, who voted to keep the schools open, said closing them "does not do anything to help the district at all."

Five members voted for the measure, one abstained and one dissented. The meeting included comments from many residents urging the board not to close South Ocean Middle School in Patchogue and Oregon Middle School in Medford.

During the meeting, school administration officials presented the board with the possible financial and academic impact of shuttering the campuses, which both serve grades six through eight.

O'Brien said the savings -- about $1 million -- were not enough to justify the upheaval shutting the schools would create. Seventh- and eighth-graders would have had to attend Saxton Middle School, swelling it to 1,200 students.

"Patchogue-Medford is a very tight community, and it proved it last night with all those people who wanted the schools to stay open," O'Brien said.

A presentation by district officials showed that academic impacts could have included larger class sizes, fewer librarians and fewer students able to participate in interscholastic athletics.

O'Brien said the district is looking at staggering elementary school hours to better accommodate bus routes and that alone could save about $900,000.

Board member William LaVelle, who was the lone dissenter, said he felt the board had not been given enough information. The district's schools were designed to hold 12,000 students but there are about 7,900 students enrolled, he said. He also said the district should look at renting out space in its facilities.

"The schools will remain open in the foreseeable future, yes," he said. "Our demographic study shows enrollment is declining and at what point do you make the decision to close the schools?"

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