Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda held its first regular meeting Tuesday evening after Superintendent Whitney R. Vantine announced his decision to retire next month. In addition to the search for Vantine’s replacement, the board also discussed another stressful topic — the creation of a task force that will deal with declining enrollment numbers plaguing the district.
“We have some serious issues, including a disproportionate amount of students at Mullen and Riverview, the highest since I’ve been here,” Vantine said. “And studies show we will have less than 1,600 students in 2020.”
That figure is compared to the roughly 1,830 students enrolled now, down from 2,200 when Vantine began in 2008.
The board has sent out letters to invite members of previous task forces to take part in this process.
The group could decide on a number of different options, according to Vantine, including reconfiguring the district, creating one campus, or moving a grade from Fletcher Elementary to the Middle and High School complex.
Vantine also said that a major issue is deciding what to do with Central School and relocating the programs presently housed there.
“It’s to deal with what will happen next, what if these numbers continue to go down, what if we don’t have students to fill the seats,” Vantine said.
Vantine recommended having an outside agency facilitate the task force to eliminate any potential for bias.
Eight previous task force members attended the meeting Tuesday and Board President Jackie Smilinich said the next board meeting on Aug. 25 will discuss a facilitator and timeline for the group.
Smilinich also outlined its process for the ongoing superintendent search and formally announced the utilization of an advisory committee. The board will discuss who will be a part of the committee at a meeting Tuesday and any community members who are interested in taking part or nominating someone should contact a board member before the meeting.