The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board on Tuesday tried to satisfy critics of a consolidation study by directing the superintendent to investigate the prices that two district-owned properties could fetch if they were put up for sale.
The call to analyze the value and use of the administration building at 1500 Colvin Blvd. and the former Philip Sheridan Elementary School on Elmwood Avenue came after many of the 13 residents who spoke during the public comment portion of the regular monthly meeting implored the board to investigate selling them before considering closing schools.
“Before you’re going to rip little tiny lives apart and implode their world, let’s look at the numbers on those buildings,” said Erin Laughlin, treasurer of the Lindbergh Elementary School Parent Teacher Association.
The board, until now, has resisted calls to consider selling the two properties as alternatives to consolidation because the consultant team hired to conduct the consolidation study – SES Study Team – was directed only to look at buildings currently housing students, said board member Judy Frank.
“For the administration building to be looked at, we now have to charge our administration to look at that,” she said. “That was not something the SES study group was asked to look at in any capacity of their study.”
The board called for Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro to also look into where administrators would move their offices and the cost of doing so.
Several board members raised security concerns about moving administrators and their frequent visitors into a building occupied by students.
“I think the less community traffic we have going in and out of a building with students in it is much safer,” said Frank, who agreed with other board members that an empty district building would be more suitable.
Board members questioned whether it made sense to sell the Sheridan building because they thought it was profitable for the district, which leases space there to outside agencies.
During the public comment session, residents spoke in support of Holmes Elementary School, which would close in seven of the eight scenarios outlined in the consolidation report and serves mostly low-income families.
A scenario that would close Holmes and Kenmore Middle School was ranked as most preferred by a focus group of community stakeholders.