Letter: Build a New School Despite Under Enrolled Schools in Greenwich?

New Lebanon SchoolThe following letter to the editor was submitted by Judy Crystal, Sept. 6, 2016

Byram needs a new school.  That a town like ours can countenance sending kindergarteners three streets away from their “school” in order to find classroom space is appalling.

As a resident of Byram (and a 46 year resident of Greenwich) I find the situation disgusting.

Unfortunately, the proposed creation of an oversized, unnecessarily large building in order to circumvent state diversity laws and perhaps guarantee significant state funding is ecologically and morally offensive.

Currently, four of our elementary schools are at 20% below targeted enrollment.  Parkway School is barely at 50%.

Will we build one school only to close another? Those advocates who emphasize the possible state construction reimbursement ignore the increased long-term costs of heating, maintenance and transportation that an oversized building would cost our town.

Further, I do not understand how a magnet school in Byram, located in the far southwestern corner of town, will attract students who will have to travel by bus 30 plus minutes each way from the eastern and northern sides of town, especially since the elementary schools in those areas excel academically.

Hamilton Avenue School pm

The experience the BOE has with magnet school programs on the western side of town at Hamilton Avenue, New Lebanon, and Western Middle School, all of which have failed to reduce their racial imbalance, is a loud and clear message.  Considering that the magnet program at New Lebanon is already unsuccessful before the oversized Byram magnet school is built, the BOE should provide detailed documentation that a new overlarge school building would attract students likely to reduce the imbalance at New Lebanon.  So far the BOE has produced no data to support their large, costly New Lebanon school project.

Our town should build a new “neighborhood” school, appropriately sized for the Byram community, focused on the students’ academic achievements rather than pretending to solve New Lebanon’s racial imbalance.

Judy Crystal