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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Parents blast possible Long Beach school closures
Presentation on facilities draws criticism
By Alexandra Spychalsky
Courtesy Rosemary Leonetti/Syntax
Facilities Studies Group members Michele Natali, left, West School President Sandra Schneider and Gerry Maquet presented their findings at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Parents voiced their outrage at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting after a presentation on the use of the district’s facilities included the possible closure of an elementary school.

The presentation, made by a Facilities Studies Group that the district created in September to analyze the use of school facilities and brainstorm ideas on how to use the space better, included a variety of options for the Board of Education to consider, many of which involved closing a school or shifting grades around between buildings.

In September, the project was revisited after being put on hold because of Hurricane Sandy. The group’s goal was to find the most effective use of the district’s eight buildings. “We know that, based on our use during the storm, there may be novel ways of using our facilities,” Superintendent David Weiss said.

Weiss stressed that the committee was not making a proposal to the board, but rather simply offering options. After the presentation, Weiss said that administrators would narrow down the options they think are best. On Jan. 21, the board will hold a public forum at which the final options will be presented to the public for comment.

“This is a start to make sure we’ve covered our options,” Weiss said. “The purpose of the study group was to vet our choices so the board has a lot more information to make a decision.”

The three key drivers of the study were enrollment, efficiency and finding a home for the administration. In its presentation, the Facilities Studies Group said that the district’s student population has decreased 17 percent over the past decade, leaving some buildings underutilized. Additionally, the administration building, on Lido Boulevard, was destroyed in the storm, and the cost of rebuilding it is too high. The group tried to find a way to fit administrators together in a school building.

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