Preliminary discussions on a potential capital project have drawn the Holland School Board back into the thorny topic of building reconfigurations, particularly whether to reopen the former middle school for classes.
Board member Kelleen Kensey maintained Monday that there are merits to returning students to the school on Partridge Road. She noted that the building’s pool, gymnasium and athletic fields are already used by various groups. Some administrative offices are housed there as well.
But board President Steve Marom disagreed with her request for further study on the matter. “We’ve been kicking this around for three years. Turmoil doesn’t do anyone any good,” Marom said.
The district has had some success renting portions of the nearly vacant building that formerly housed grades 6-8. The Board of Cooperative Educational Services and a child care center rent a few rooms. However, the building needs numerous repairs and, because no students are attending class in the building, officials said the district is not eligible for state aid there.
In addition, items have been moved from the facility, including Smartboards, wiring, furniture and cafeteria equipment. An application would need to be filed with the state Education Department for classes to resume there. In light of decreasing enrollment, Superintendent Cathy Fabiatos said it is fairly “unheard of” for a closed school building to be reopened.
Urging the board to reach a consensus, Fabiatos, whose tenure with the district began after the reconfiguration took place, said, “We need to make intelligent choices. We don’t want to be crippled by this. We need to move forward.”
With a 4-3 vote, the board, divided much as it was for the original motion in January 2012, finalized the configuration to remain as it currently stands with students housed in two of the district’s three buildings. Marom, Judy Geer, Taina Armstrong Hoffman and Jenelle Nadler voted for, and Kensey, Joseph Levesque and Brian Jones voted against.
Marom said the board would discuss tentative uses for the former middle school building at the next board meeting Dec. 16.