Adams-Cheshire officials may consider shutting an elementary school


CHESHIRE >> After another painful budget process, members of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee expect to consider the possibility of closing one of the district's two elementary schools.

The school committee voted to approve a fiscal 2017 budget on Thursday that would eliminate 12.5 positions to in order the keep spending to a minimum, as both towns have expressed an inability to continue paying increasing education costs.

During a period of questioning from the public at a hearing on Thursday, Chairman Paul Butler and Vice Chairwoman Darlene Rodowicz said the committee could look at closing either C.T. Plunkett Elementary or Cheshire Elementary in the coming years.

"That is something going forward that we just may have to face the reality, given the economics and the population size, that we really may have to become a two-school district," Butler said, referring to Hoosac Valley Middle and High School and one remaining elementary school. "How that's going to come about, we don't know."

However, Butler said it was too late in the year to make any such changes before the upcoming school year. He said there would be time for public input and the topic is one that the School Committee would begin to discuss in the coming year.

Both C.T. Plunkett Elementary and Hoosac Valley have additional space, Superintendent Kristen Gordon noted.

In 2015 the committee openly considered restructuring the elementary schools so that one would serve the district's youngest children and the other would serve the older elementary students. That plan never moved forward.

"That would save money but it would still be more costly than actually getting down buildings," Rodowicz said.

One potential benefit of closing an elementary school would be reduced maintenance and capital costs. The repair needs of both schools were outlined by district officials this week and include roof repairs, electrical upgrades and new flooring.

Rodowicz said that C.T. Plunkett has more available space in the building, but parking and access could be a concern. The Cheshire Elementary building comes with more land but is older and would likely need extensive renovation, she said.

"Each building has its pros and cons that we need to work through," Rodowicz said.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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