Tonawanda News

November 22, 2013

Ken-Ton releases consolidation survey results

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Sixty-one Ken-Ton residents, employees and parents seem to support a consolidation option that would keep both high schools open and close up to four school buildings, survey results indicate. 

Under that scenario, grades eight through 12 would report to the two high schools, Kindergarten through grade four would go to a handful of elementary schools and grades five through seven would attend school at the Hoover and Franklin complexes. Kenmore Middle and a handful of elementary schools would close, making it unlikely that further consolidation would be necessary.

The option represents the “best compromise of incorporating changes while not being overly aggressive,” multiple respondents said. 

But many also noted that incorporating eighth grade students into the high schools may be difficult, and students in fifth grade may have trouble adjusting to middle school. 

Respondents also indicated moderate support for the option that a district focus group chose as its preferred scenario. 

Under that option, one middle school and one elementary school would close. The remaining schools will be rezoned, and the high schools would remain as they are. The survey states that the option would likely result in additional school closings in the next few years, however.

“The number of staff in each remaining building will increase, which allows for more collaboration among teachers,” more than one respondent said. 

Others noted that the pathways from school to school would be more consistent than some of the other options.

The challenges listed under that option included scheduling problems for teachers and larger class sizes. At least one respondent was worried about the necessity of further consolidation in the coming years. 

Under the third scenario, Kenmore West and East would become junior high schools and serve grades seven through 12. Elementary schools would run at Hoover and Franklin, and two undetermined themed schools would be hosted at two elementary schools. This scenario would also make it unlikely that further closings would be necessary in the next five to 10 years.

Respondents didn’t express much agreement on the opportunities for the option, but multiple people voiced their concern about seventh graders transitioning into a high school environment, overcrowded environments and the exact plans for the themed schools.

“Planning for a themed school would take a year — staff would need to be assigned to the planning teams well in advance of opening,” multiple community members said.

The fourth scenario, which the board recently proposed, would transform Kenmore West into a senior high school to serve grades 10 to 12. Kenmore East would serve grades seven through nine, and elementary students would report to Hoover, Franklin and two or three other elementary schools.

The closing of up to three buildings would make it unlikely that more consolidation would be needed, the survey states.

Multiple people said that the plan would allow middle schools to bring back the team structure and others noted that the district used this structure in the 1970s, and it worked. But some expressed concern about schools becoming too large — including the needs of 1,600 middle school students at one facility. 

Other residents and teachers also said that giving up the East and West rivalry may prove to be a difficult task.

The survey was an additional step to obtain the public’s feedback on the consolidation process. The district’s initial preliminary analysis report will be shared in late 2013, and the final report on the options will be shared in January 2014. The board is then set to consider voting on one of the options in February 2014.

If a plan is approved, the option will take effect in the 2014-2015 or 2015-2016 academic year.