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The Clarence School Board Monday took the first step toward resolving the district's elementary space concerns.

Trustees approved forming a citizens' advisory committee to research enrollment trends and to recommend a strategy that will assure sufficient learning space through 2009. The committee is scheduled to present its recommendations at the Dec. 13 board meeting.

Superintendent Thomas G. Coseo said that if the board chooses to proceed with a capital project, district residents would be asked to decide the issue in conjunction with the May 16, 2000 trustee election and budget vote. The target date for project completion would be September 2002.

Coseo said the district's goal is to have four elementary buildings that are each capable of educating 600 pupils. While Clarence Center's enrollment tops 600 and Ledgeview's nears that amount, the other schools, Sheridan Hill and Harris Hill, stand at less than 400. The district's total enrollment, now estimated at 4,315, has been rising about 3 percent a year, and recent complaints from parents about elementary class size have accelerated talk of adding classrooms at the two smaller schools.

"This is not a complicated issue," said Coseo, noting that there are only two other options for dealing with the lack of space. He said the district could build a new elementary school or obtain portable classrooms. A proposition to build a new elementary school was defeated by voters in 1990, although subsequent bond issues to expand and renovate the middle and high schools passed by wide margins.

Coseo noted that any future expansion at the smaller buildings might also mean enlargement of their cafeterias, gymnasiums and libraries. He said a capital project would surely include modernization of heating, ventilating, electrical and septic systems.

The following persons were appointed to serve on the eight-member advisory committee: Donald Adams, Dave Byers, Roy Callahan, Mark Hans, Beth Maher, Daniel McDonnell, Edna Scherf and Julie Tschari.

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