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Should Penn Yan middle school close?

    PENN YAN—Close Penn Yan Middle School? Leave things the same? Shift some grades to another building? These are some of the questions being faced by Penn Yan Central School District. Changes are being studied mainly because of changes in enrollment. This is a situation being addressed by school districts throughout New York State. In 2007-2008, enrollment in the Penn Yan district was almost 2,000 students. Five years from now, the estimated total is 1,200 to 1,300 students.
    A committee composed of staff, administrators, teachers, parents, students and community members was formed in Penn Yan several months ago. The group was charged with gathering information. They looked at models that could be done in Penn Yan. Four possibilities were identified. One would keep things the same. A second would move fifth grade to the middle school. Option three would move sixth grade to the elementary school. The fourth option would have pre-kindergarden through sixth grade at the elementary school and seventh through 12th grade in the Academy. Lists of strengths and concerns for each option was provided to people attending a meeting Tuesday, Nov. 8.
    Assistant Superintendent for Business Douglas Tomandl led a discussion of the issue. Prior to beginning the discussion, Tomandl said there has been some concern that the board of education has already made a decision. Tomandl said, “That is not so.”
     Superintendent of Schools David Hamilton told the group the project is being done in a time frame that would allow the board of education to act on it this year. Hamilton said, “This does not mean it would be implemented this year, or in two or five years.” Hamilton said a question that has been asked is if the district is consolidation. Hamilton said, “We are not talking about consolidation. We are talking about shared services.” This would include areas that Hamilton termed as “back office” services. These are things the students will not see.
    Discussion groups followed the brief presentation by Tomandl. Each person attending received lists of strengths and concerns connected with each possibility identified by the committee.
    Surveys distributed to gain more input were due on Monday, Nov. 14. The brief survey asked participants to rate the possible choices on a scale of one to 10. The survey also asked what the respondent feels the most important things to consider when the choice of models was made. Space was also devoted to reasons for choices made.

    Findings of the survey will be discussed at the meeting of the board of education on Wednesday, Dec. 7. The meeting will be in the elementary school cafeteria.


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