Tonawanda News — The SES Study Team has provided the Ken-Ton School District with eight consolidation options, one of which will likely be implemented for the 2014-2015 academic year.
“The SES team has supplied possible doable consolidation options effective for the 2014-2015 school year as per one of the Board of Education objectives stated in the request for proposals almost one year ago,” Superintendent Mark Mondanaro said. “Neither the superintendent nor Board of Education is making any comments on the options at this time.”
The team’s 83-page report, available on the Ken-Ton district website, identifies both the opportunities and challenges for each option, as well as estimated savings resulting from each option.
The options range from keeping the schools to closing numerous schools and significantly changing the configuration of the district.
“It is based on a lot of data and information,” Mondanaro said. “I am happy that there are a lot of options, because it just gives us more discussion points.”
The option that would result in the most savings, identified as Scenario H, would include closing Edison Elementary, Holmes Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary and Kenmore Middle. Under that option, identified as scenario H in the report, pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes would be held at Hamilton and Lindbergh. Grades 1, 2 and 3 would report to Franklin Elementary, grades 4, 5 and 6 would report to the Hoover campus, grades 7, 8 and 9 would be served at Kenmore East, and grades 10, 11 and 12 would take place at Kenmore West.
That option would result in $2,131,811 savings from cuts in staffing, utilities, building supplies and maintenance.
Opportunities for option H include the centralization of the K-5 attendance zone and the chance to design a junior high program to prepare students for the transition to high school. The option would also allow the district to adhere to its current class size goals.
Some challenges under the scenario include marketing the four school buildings that would close, redesigning transportation routes and having the students change schools four times in the course of 13 years.
Other options would include fewer systematic changes at one time. Scenario G, for example, would only close Holmes and Kenmore Middle — and grades 9 through 12 would stay at the two high schools. The general configuration of elementary, middle and high schools would remain the same,  but the savings would be less, at $1,336,378.
Some of the other configuration options listed throughout the eight scenarios including consolidating grades 8 through 12 at the high schools, consolidating the middle schools to the Hoover campus and having Kenmore Middle only house grade 7.
Each plan has its own opportunities and challenges, and some offer more transportation problems than others, according to the study team.
The report comes after seven months of work, which included other reports on the pupil capacity of each building and census data. With declining enrollment and state aid posing challenges to every district in the state, Ken-Ton hired SES to complete the study with hopes a consolidation project would put the district in a better financial position.
“The district, like many in New York state has had to reduce expenditures for staff, programs, and general operations to deal with the recession of 2008 and its continued fallout for the foreseeable future for public school districts,” the SES study said.
Last week, the board adopted its 2013-2014 budget, which if voters approve it at the end of May, will instate a 4.66 percent tax levy increase. And even though Mondanaro said this year is the first in many that no cuts will directly affect student programs, some board members were disappointed that a high tax levy was again needed to control costs.
District officials are hoping a consolidation plan can offset those costs and be effective for years to come. The next steps of the project include presentations for the public and employees next week. The SES team will be on hand at those meetings to answer questions.
Then, a focus group will meet June 8 to review each option. The group will then forward their recommendations along to the Board of Education, which may then vote on one of the options.
The public and faculty meetings are scheduled for:
• Faculty presentation: Wednesday at Kenmore East at 4 p.m.
• Public presentation: Wednesday at Kenmore East at 7 p.m.
• Public presentation: Thursday at Franklin Middle at 7 p.m.
• Faculty presentation: April 29 at Ken West at 4 p.m.
• Public presentation: April 29 at Ken West at 7 p.m.
• Public presentation: April 30 SES at Hoover Middle at 7 p.m. Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150