In an effort to alleviate crowding in the New Lebanon School, Greenwich school officials have decided to relocate the three incoming kindergarten classes to the Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center (BANC).
The students will begin their school days for the 2014-15 academic year at BANC, and then be bused two blocks to neighborhood school that serves the Byram neighborhood where there has been a continued influx of families with children for the last several years. The afternoon portion of the kindergarten school day which includes recess, lunch and classes for music, art, foreign languages and gym, will be held at New Lebanon, according to the plan.
New Lebanon has 14 classrooms and the projected enrollment of 276 students translates into the need for 16 classrooms. The transfer of the kindergarten classes frees up three classrooms to accommodate the projected enrollment for grades 1 through 5, while providing classroom space for Advanced Learning Program and Special Education students, according to a facility utilization update released Thursday morning by district administrators.
New Lebanon parents were briefed on the plan by Superintendent William McKersie at the New Lebanon PTA meeting Feb. 19, according to PTA President Michael Bocchino.
"Parents are angry and upset that the district has known for sometime ... we met with interim Superintendent Dr. (Roger) Lulow in September 2010 about the overcrowding and student enrollment projections ... and the board and the town have done nothing about it and the only solution disrupts the school and the programming," Bocchino said.
"Unfortunately, this is the only option presented for our students that will keep them connected to the school and the community," Bocchino added.
Last year New Lebanon parents vehemently opposed a proposal to open up classroom space, by transferring the fifth-grade to Western Middle School.
Bocchino said the parents and PTA were involved in the process that resulted with the kindergarten transfer plan. "There is no good decision. The problem has been existence for yours. We as a PTA have complained to prior superintendents and boards (of education) and they all kicked the can down the road."
In the update, the school district administration said, "We have arrived at the most viable solution for providing for the educational needs of all K-5 NLS students and maintaining class size guidelines, in a fiscally responsible manner.
The Board of Education approved a $25,000 pre-feasibility study, which is nearly completed, and will be presented in March 2014. This study will provide a square footage analysis as well as offer local and state benchmarks for high quality school facilities, according to the district.
Also, the Board of Education approved $100,000 in the 2014-2015 Capital Plan for a Feasibility Study to be conducted in the summer of 2014. The study will provide a deeper facility analysis and begin to develop options for addressing facility needs. However, that expenditure is under consideration by the Board of Estimate and Taxation which is continuing its budget deliberations.
Bocchino said, "The parents want the town to understand that this needs to be addressed quickly so this disruption can end. If there were a catastrophe like a hurricane or a tree falling onto the school, there would be some type of emergency funding and the town would rally around and pay for a resolution."
He added, "It makes no sense to not address this or to have a lengthy review process while the students are not receiving the education they deserve."