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Report: Higher costs led to call for school closure

An undated file photo of Nesconset Elementary School

An undated file photo of Nesconset Elementary School in the Smithtown school district Credit: Newsday / Tony Jerome

Fewer classrooms and higher utility costs were two factors that led a Smithtown committee to recommend closing the district’s smallest school, committee members said in a report to the school board.

The report, released last week after nearly nine months of study, calls for closing Nesconset Elementary School among a host of moves to control costs, including moving staff out of the district’s Joseph M. Barton office building, 26 New York Ave. in Smithtown. Renting the buildings could bring in revenue to the district, the committee said.

Closing an elementary school would save about $1 million a year in personnel and building costs, the 239-page report said. The report, including voluminous appendices, can be read on the district’s website, smithtown.k12.ny.us.

A public hearing on the proposed school closure will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at Nesaquake Middle School, 479 Edgewood Ave., St. James. The school board is scheduled to vote on the measure at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the New York Avenue building.

During a school board meeting Thursday, committee members said they considered closing either Nesconset or Mills Pond Elementary School in St. James. Nesconset was chosen in part because it has five fewer classrooms and utility costs are more than 50 percent higher, the committee said.

Capital improvements at Nesconset are projected at $2.85 million, compared to $1.6 million at Mills Pond, the committee said. Enrollment at all 14 district schools is expected to decline during the next decade.

“A decision to close any of our schools is not easy, because they’re all good schools,” committee member Rick Schlomann said.

Nesconset students would be shifted to Mills Pond, the committee said. About half of Mills Pond students would be moved to St. James Elementary School.

School board members did not comment on whether they agreed with the committee’s recommendations.

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