The Rondout Valley School Board voted unanimously at their meeting on Tuesday, November 22, to close the Rosendale Elementary School in June.
Rosendale Elementary, one of three elementary schools in the Rondout Valley Central School District, faces a perfect storm that's become all too typical of rural schools in upstate New York: Falling enrollment, rising costs and a new statewide tax cap that limits school spending without providing any relief from costly state and federal mandates.
The Times Herald-Record reports on Tuesday's meeting:
Rondout's enrollment fell by nearly 17 percent between 2004 and 2009; it's expected to drop another 5 percent by 2014.
Rising pension and health benefits costs have resulted in a projected 2012 budget deficit of roughly $3.5 million, [Trustee David] O'Halloran said. Based on the tax cap approved earlier this year, the district's property-tax levy can increase just $600,000.
The district says it will save $835,390 annually by shutting Rosendale. Just $122,726 of that comes from lower facility costs; the remaining $712,664 will be shaved by laying off administrators and support staff. Teacher layoffs still are being determined.
Trustee David O’Halloran, who co-chairs the committee, said the district faces a $3 million to $4 million budget gap in the 2012-13 school year and must make tough decisions now to preserve academic programs and smaller class sizes.
The committee will now turn its discussion to how to reconfigure the district’s grade levels to best fit within a five-building footprint, school officials said.
The school district has started a blog, as a forum for community members to weigh in on the reconfiguration of the district.