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Emotions run high at final meeting on Ken-Ton consolidation plan

The fourth and final public meeting on the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District’s four school consolidation plans Monday evening turned into a spirited and sometimes tearful defense of Thomas Edison Elementary School.

Edison parents sat as a bloc in an upper section of the Kenmore East High School auditorium and made a steady pilgrimage to the public comment microphones down front.

The first one to speak, Teresa Cianchetti, told how she sent her son to pre-K at the school last year and he came back “singing ‘Edison Eagles are ready to soar’ all around the house.”

She also noted that if Edison is closed, all the students who went there when Jefferson Elementary School closed would have to change schools again.

“Many parents have pulled out of Ken-Ton because of the uncertainty,” she said. She received louder applause from the crowd of about 150 than School Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro did at the end of his 90-minute presentation of the plans.

Her point was underscored a few minutes later by a tearful parent of a former Jefferson student who was transferred.

“My daughter goes to Edison and she loves it,” she said. “How do I tell her she still has to leave? It’s too hard. How am I going to sell another school to my child?”

The Board of Education will have an opportunity to decide which consolidation plan it will adopt when it holds a special public work session at 6:30 tonight in the Kenmore East auditorium.

Of the four school redistricting proposals, speakers mostly favored Scenario I, which would keep Edison open and close the Alexander Hamilton and Theodore Roosevelt elementary schools, add eighth-graders to Kenmore East and Kenmore West high schools and devote the two middle schools to grades five, six and seven.

“Scenario G [which closes just Hamilton and redistricts everything else] is playing it too safe,” said another Edison parent, Dana Kates, who also teaches at the school and supports Scenario I.

“The other two [J, which would create two junior-senior high schools; and K, which would make Kenmore East the only junior high and Kenmore West the only senior high] are too aggressive,” she added.

Cheryl Zanghi, who said she moved here from Florida and has a senior at Kenmore West and twins at Roosevelt, received repeated applause as she praised the excellence of the schools and the neighborhood.

Florida, she said, has “nowhere near the quality of education you get here. But the main reason we’ve stayed here is because of the neighbors.”

She cautioned against diminishing the quality of life through school redistricting “so in 10 years people want to live here and start moving in for the same reason I did.”