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Consultant weighed on consolidation

The possibility of closing one of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda District's 13 schools was mentioned repeatedly during development of next year's budget.

A recommendation, for the 2013-14 school year, will be made this summer by Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro.

At Tuesday night's School Board meeting, Mondanaro went a step further. He said a request for proposals will be created this year to find a consultant to do a comprehensive district study on mid- to long-range consolidation and/or redistricting.

"This would be a much larger project," the superintendent said. "There are consultants out there who do this for a living."

But the first part of Tuesday's discussion focused on the recommendation that Mondanaro will make by Aug. 15. Among the considerations:

*Which school historically experiences the greatest student enrollment decrease?

*What is the total annual cost of running that school?

*Which method most efficiently distributes students from the closing school attendance zone to the other school attendance zones?

In closing one school, "There is no redistricting outside of the [dispersion] of students coming out of the closing school," Mondanaro said.

There are additional considerations when it comes to a whole district redistricting, grade-level configurations and more school closings, Mondanaro said.

They include depletion of fund balance and reserves used for annual budgets. "We know that we are approaching the sunset of those fund balances and reserves," Mondanaro said.

The study may consider various short- and long-term options, with or without capital improvement to support the final recommendations. "I don't think something this large has one answer or recommendation," Mondanaro said.

A stakeholder committee will be formed to work in an advisory capacity with the consultant.

"One of the things I would like to do is make sure you're looking at this through the eyes of a student going through that process," said board member James A. Simmons.

Mondanaro's presentation is at Click on Board of Education, then BOE Meeting Documents, then School Consolidation Studies.