BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – No Binghamton Elementary Schools are closing for now.
The Binghamton City School District’s Board of Education came to a consensus at its November monthly meeting yesterday, that the best option from the feasibility study at this time, is to not close any elementary schools, and to search for more funding in hopes to rebuild Roosevelt Elementary.
The feasibility study has been ongoing for 19 months now.
Concerned families and parents in attendance were vocal throughout the three-hour marathon meeting, talking over board members and interjecting with their opinions.
Following a passionate public comment period, board members took turns sharing their thoughts on the options moving forward, and every board member expressed that they do not want to close any schools.
Binghamton Council Member Aviva Friedman urges the board to consider each school equally, not just the buildings with declining infrastructure.
Binghamton City Council member Aviva Friedman says, “But I just don’t want to perpetuate this cycle of the schools that we have already invested so much money in, tending to be in the more affluent areas, and those are the schools that are kind of not even being considered for being closed.”
Board President Brian Whalen and other members mentioned their concerns of enrollment trends throughout recent years, saying that the number of students is declining.
He says that Horace Mann Elementary has seen an 11.6% decrease in enrollment from 2016 to 2019, and Roosevelt has dropped 14.3% in that time.
Whalen says that if enrollment trends continue, funding is not accessible, and the district needs to consolidate, Woodrow Wilson Elementary is the likely candidate to be closed or re-purposed.
Board member Steve Seepersaud says that the schools provide critical services to the communities they are in, and by closing a building, families lose those resources.
Vice President of the Binghamton City School District Board of Education Steve Seepersaud says, “The things we take for granted, living in other parts of the city, access to a grocery store, access to medical, access to this or that it happens, and it’s just there and we don’t have to think about. And for others, it’s much more of a hardship trying to obtain these things. So, I don’t think that closing Roosevelt is the right move for us, I think it just contributes to further decline in the neighborhood.”
Seepersaud says that to receive the funds needed for rebuilding, advocates may have to take a bus to Albany, and do whatever it takes.
Whalen says that in the coming months, more information will be announced regarding funding and the next steps in the process.