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Ulster County school closures being considered

Apr 03, 2023 12:23 am

Maria M. Silva reports in the Times Union that the Onteora Central School District is considering closing one or two elementary schools because of falling enrollment. So far, they are discussing either closing Bennett Elementary or closing both elementary schools in Phoenicia and Woodstock. The number of students at those schools has fallen from 2,470 in 1998 to 1,101 students today. Onteora Superintendent Victoria McLaren said, “We have lost 1,000 students and not changed our footprint.” The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Ulster County's number of children ages 5-19 decreased from 36,764 in 2000 to 29,000 in 2020. But from 2019 to 2021, the population of Ulster County overall grew 2.8 percent, reversing a decline since 2010. The Onteora Parents Engaged Now group that opposes the school closures argues that the pandemic has “fundamentally changed” the local population. Megan H. Brenner is a parent and a spokesperson for the parents group, said, “Moral of the story is that it’s fiscally irresponsible to rush decision-making on something that cannot be undone.... That will forever shape the impact of these communities without knowing or disclosing all the impacts on the community and taxpayers.” Read more about this story in the Times Union.

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