New Hartford BOE reverses decision to close elementary school

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NEW HARTFORD–After months of debate over the fate of an elementary school in New Hartford, the town’s Board of Education voted to keep the Bakerville Elementary School for the 2016-2017 school year.

In December, the Board of Education unanimously voted to close the school due to declining enrollment, and the fact that BOE Chairman Sue Lundin said closing it would save more than $200,000 per year–$120,000 in savings from personnel reductions, and $90,000 in building maintenance costs. However, the $90,000 won’t be eliminated from taxes, just transferred to the Town General Government budget.

Students were set to be redistricted to the other two elementary schools.

However, many residents were angry about the decision, and voiced concern that they didn’t have a say. That’s when a public vote was scheduled, and on March 15, residents overwhelmingly voted against a referendum question that asked: “Should the Bakerville Consolidated School be Closed?” Around 72 percent of voters said “no” in a final vote of 487-1275.

The vote was non-binding and the final decision remained with the Board of Education.

“We felt still strongly that Bakerville School should be closed and that we should do the shifting of the students to New Hartford Elementary School and Ann Antolini School,” said Sue Lundin, chairman of the Board of Education, on March 23 at a special Board of Education meeting.

The vote to reverse the decision and keep the school open was 6-1. The budget still needs to pass a referendum vote to make the reversal permanent, which will happen on May 3.