Katonah-Lewisboro Moves Ahead With Elementary School Closing

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The Katonah-Lewisboro School District is moving forward with plans to close Lewisboro Elementary School despite some public outcry. Some protesters have become unhinged accord to Charles Day, school board president. Photo Credit: File Photo

LEWISBORO, N.Y. -- Charles Day is not going to let a small group of "unhinged" protesters stop the Katonah-Lewisboro school district from going forward with the process of closing Lewisboro Elementary School.

Day, the school board president, said the board has recently completed an educational impact statement and found bus times will be the same or lower than they are now if they close the school.

"We can use some of the savings from closing the school to add bus routes," Day said. "The average bus time will go down from where they are now."

Day said the school district expects to save about $1.9 million and that class sizes will only see a marginal increase. 

"That is a huge sum of money," Day said. "We will have to do some slight modifying after the redistricting."

At a recent Board of Education meeting, Trustee Stephanie Tobin asked for a straw vote. Tobin, Peter Treyz and Richard Stone were firmly in favor of closing the school.

Janet Harckham and Day were leaning in favor of closing the school, while Marjorie Schiff was leaning against. Schiff proposed waiting a year, which Day rejected.

"No board wants to go through this again," Day said. "I think the community is overwhelmingly in favor of this."

Day said there is a very small minority of people who are against the closing that have become totally unhinged.

"That group has made it impossible to wait a year," Day said.

A preliminary vote is set to be held on Dec. 19 with a formal public hearing being held on Jan. 16. A final vote will be set on Jan. 23.

Closing the school will be part of Lewisboro's 2014-2015 budget which will be voted on by the public in May. The closing would see a principal, assistant principal, nurse, librarian, janitors, and psychologist laid off.

Day was highly critical of a protest of 20 cars that drove to Meadow Pond Elementary School in South Salem to show the potential traffic impact.

"It was borderline dangerous," Day said. "No one has come forward to take responsibility which makes me think they know this wasn't a good idea. It was the final straw, it showed what these people are like."

Calls to several of the protesters were not returned. 

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Comments (31)

JS84:

Responding to PK69 points:
1. When someone wins because they are unopposed shows greater strength in their candidacy. The vote count is irrelevant because only one vote is needed to win. As for your petition signatures what about all of the out of town signatures, they can't vote. If voting in an election was as simple as signing a petition on-line than voter turnout would be greatly increased.

2. I attend the BOE meeting and read the comments in the newspaper. It would seem anybody has more smarts and better facts than the BOE according to to the LES parents.

3. Read the closure report it states the savings without closure and the savings with closure. If LES stays open the principal, assistant principal, school nurse etc. would still be paid, that is where the $1.9 million comes from.
4. Talk about cunning, the whole reason for the delay is to elect two new members who agree with your group and kill the closing. There is no data that will be discovered in one year that is not already known. Even if there was new data to support the closing the LES parents would dismiss it as bogus.

5. I am far from frustrated and angry. If that is a description of anybody it is the LES parents. Threatening law suits because they are not getting their way and that childish stunt at MPES? Look in the mirror for juvenile and desperate behavior.

6. I do not believe in the two school model. There would be too much travel time for young children. If the day comes that three schools are running at less than 50% capacity that scenario would have to be addressed.

Lastly I always look at who has the most to gain to judge each sides veracity. Please explain to me what the BOE has to gain from the closing? Unless they are insane masochists why would they want this grief from your group.
Leadership is persevering in the face of obstacles, not caving to special interests.

For the record when did I call anybody a "unhinged lap dog" ? That is the M.O. of the LES parents with the name calling.

JS84:

Better to be an attack dog for the greater good of K-L than to be a lap dog for the entitled LES parents against closure.

I find it quite strange that the majority of voters elected this BOE for their ability to manage our school district but when they make a decision that some people don't like the BOE suddenly becomes illiterate and offensive.

No amount of data or dollar savings will be good enough for this spoiled group of children masquerading as parents to close LES.
If you follow their argument it does not matter how low the student population gets in the elementary schools to justify closure. They moved here for LES and they are entitled to that.

We keep hearing how the savings will amount to less than specified. On page 14 paragraph 9 of the closing report it clearly states where the savings will come from. Just because you don't want to believe it does not make it false.
If there is any rumored legal cost to implement the LES closure it will be the result of the LES parents not the school district and all the taxpayers will pay.

Using legal costs as an argument to stop the closure is like a child killing their parents and then asking the judge for leniency because they are now an orphan.

This whole episode is a microcosm of America in 2013. Adults acting like children because they can't get their way.

PK69:

JS84 - So now the LES parents are “unhinged lap dogs”? Quite a visual.

With regards to some of your points:

1. You mentioned that the majority of voters elected this BOE. What you failed to mention is that Day and Harckham ran uncontested (2 candidates on ballot for 2 seats). Interestingly, Mr. Day only had a total of 1,434 votes. Only 1,434 votes of which 432 came from LES. How many people have signed that petition to postpone closing LES?
2. You mentioned that when people don’t like the way the BOE votes they call them illiterate and offensive. Not sure where that is coming from, but from what I have seen they are smart, often pleasant and extremely cunning.
3. Regarding your comment on savings, do you realize that they are counting money as savings that would be saved even if a school remained open?
4. Regarding your comment on rumored legal costs, it’s the BOE’s job to spend money responsibly and measure risk/reward of such actions. My only point was that this scenario seems to erase a good chunk of savings when a compromise could be reached to hold off a closing. Believe it or not many people believe a closing or perhaps 2 schools closing may be a necessity in a couple of years or maybe even a year from now. All people seem to be asking is that real (not projected) data be used to establish the need and stop acting like there is a critical financial need to rush into this decision. Also, you seem to have knowledge that a potential law suit would be from parents. Is that a known fact or are you assuming? What about upset residents without children, don't you think they could take action? Please share what you know and enlighten the audience.
5. I won’t even address your last statement as you seem extremely frustrated and angry - sort of like a child that can’t handle someone disagreeing with them. What do you lose personally if this closure is delayed a year or two? Are you a proponent for closing two schools in 2016?

lewyboro:

But why believe these numbers when a significant amount of the past "savings" data has been retracted or revised? Face it, this has been decided well in advance and the entire process has been a charade. That is probably how most boards work, but we should stop kidding ourselves and arguing about the numbers, because they don't matter at this point.

JS84:

I did not believe the numbers at first because they kept changing. In the report it lists each position to be eliminated and the cost for each position. Unless the BOE plans on adding extra principals or librarians etc. to the other schools these positions will be gone.
Don't be a dupe for a small interest group.

lewyboro:

Again, if the numbers kept changing, why trust this set? Even if those projections about staff cuts go unchanged, it's still very likely that extra costs in other areas have not been projected properly. If they haven't finished redistricting (again), transportation costs are still a wild card. There are projections that are still works in progress. All of these add up to the total savings, and whatever figure is published now is subject to change until all of the variables are decided. So yes, maybe they stopped changing numbers in one area of the projections. This still doesn't mean they will be right. Even if they are, the fact remains that there are still other cost projections that aren't set yet that could reduce the savings. And these things are now being rushed b/c the vote is happening no matter what. Given the rush and history of data retraction, I am skeptical of any numbers presented at this late point. In the end, all of the data is just created to support the decision that was already made. Just like when lawyers hire an expert witness, that witness gives the opinion the lawyer is looking for. Also, I haven't forgotten that some of the data given to the original committee that started this process was later retracted, so this has been based on suspect data from the start. That's actually the point where I got so frustrated that I stopped following this so closely. At this point, the discussion shouldn't be about a few dollars here or there on the projections. It should be about whether we really have thought all aspects of this through as well as we should have, or if there have been enough flaws to suggest that we should step off the gas. Even the quotes from Mr. Day in this forum imply that he would have been open to listening this idea if he hadn't felt boxed into a corner by certain parents. I would hate to think that extreme behavior on either side would have the effect of forcing this through more quickly than it should be done.

JS84:

.

JS84:

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Arizona:

They took your posts out too. Yes I did miss that one.

Arizona:

I notice that some of my comments have been deleted. What is this...North Korea? Are the 1st Amendment rights just for the Daily Voice staff?

JS84:

1st. Amendment only protects the citizens from the government restricting free speech. The Daily is a private enterprise which allows them to do what they please. As a Conservative I would have thought you would have known that.

Arizona:

Let's be straight. Parsons may want that building for town hall and that is what this may really be all about in the end.

Arizona:

Let's be straight. Parsons may want that building for town hall and that is what this may really be all about in the end.

JS84:

Great idea to convert LES into a Town Center but you can't seem to stop your verbal diarrhea by saying Peter Parsons is engineering this whole thing.

Arizona:

Oh pardonez moi. It is not just Parsons......hahah

Arizona:

Excuse me?

"It was borderline dangerous," Day said. "No one has come forward to take responsibility which makes me think they know this wasn't a good idea. It was the final straw, it showed what these people are like."

Is this guy serious? ....what these people are like? Hey Day, what are you like?
Are you kids going to be affected. Is your home value going to suffer. You are an asshole.

JS84:

That Arizona sun must have bored a hole in your head.
You have to be the most disgruntled commenter in the Ledger and The Daily.

You don't even have kids in K-L. I would out you but I want to be kind.

Arizona:

By all means, go ahead and out me. And what about the other disgruntled people? You can out them too. And while you are at it my fine little apple knocker, why don't you reveal who you really are?

JS84:

Many people have disagreements with the BOE or Town Board. You never offer a better alternative and constantly make snide remarks about people and events from years past as if to lend credibility to your rant. If anybody is an "apple knocker" it is you. Do you read what you say?

Isn't it great that you no longer have to pay for the Ledger mailed to you and get it free online.

Arizona:

Years past? The same corruption and back room hi jinx are still going on. Who is the fool here? So I am waiting for you to out me....Should be hilarious.The Ledger??? This is not the Ledger

JS84:

It might not have come out right but Charles Day is absolutely correct.
This is a relatively small group of residents who have become rabid in their quest to stop LES closing.
I hope the BOE turns off their phones and email during the Christmas vacation because this group of fanatics will definitely not leave them alone. I would suggest going on vacation during this time.

800 signatures on a petition in a district of 18,000+ people. Does not sound overwhelming.
Getting petitions signed in the internet age with Facebook and Twitter is relatively simple.

kathymartin1:

Please join me along with 836 signatories (not a small group!) to ask the BOE to slow down the process of closing Lewisboro Elementary School. We need more time to adequately evaluate the impact this decision has on our children, their education, and our community.

You can sign the petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/we-ask-the-boe-to-1-suspend-the-current-sctf-process-and-2-establish-a-new-process-timeline-that-properly-fully-and-inclusively-of-our-community-addresses-all-relevant-issues?share_id=ulZqxVQwTB&utm_campaign=mailto_link

Please forward to your local friends and neighbors so that all of our voices can be heard!

JS84:

Went to the petition and I noticed quite a few people with addresses not in the district.
Worse than that when you sign it sends you to other petitions against national Republican lawmakers.
Talk about being used, what else would you expect from this group.

PK69:

Residents of Lewisboro - disagree with Charles Day at your own risk. He is a volunteer, so apparently no one is allowed to criticize him and if you do, watch out for his attack dogs. The reporter "mangled" his statements and the parents are "unhinged"? Perhaps Charles Day realizes he looks bad in this article and statements like this could jeopardize his re-election? He continues to attack community members simply to deflect and avoid the real issues he has been elected to handle and solve. Where is the leadership Mr. Day? Where is the compromise for a delay? What is your rush to close a school? What don't we know? Dr. K leaving soon?

JS84:

How about $1.9 million for a reason not to wait a year.
Leadership is not bending to the special interest's pressure and stunts.
Leadership is doing the right thing for the entire district in the face of the special interests.

PK69:

As stated earlier, the reality of the Charles Day attack dogs being deployed, seems to be a well documented reality. JS84 (I mean Josephine) perhaps you should check the alleged savings numbers. True savings over a school not closing is way south of the imaginary $1.9M. Add the additional transportation costs, moving the district offices and the potential rumored legal costs (that Mrs.Pizer seems to have information on in the Katonah Parents FB page), and the savings looking smaller and smaller. I differ with your opinion on leadership in that I believe leadership often involves bending, especially when you realize you have a weak argument. In this case, savings is a weak argument among a number of questionable arguments being used to justify a closing. Mr. Day is a smart man, but he is human. From an outsiders perspective, he appears to have learned a lesson today on being too aggressive and thinking he has full editorial control of the media. Today he appeared perhaps a little "unhinged"?

Reeve1:

Thanks for correcting your quote, because factually speaking the only people who have been "unhinged" so far were a school board member in a parking lot after a meeting and the superintendentt with his outlandish and wildly inaccurate accusations in the wake of the demonstration at Meadow Pond.

Factually speaking, I would urge the board to review the mountains of data that show that the falling tax assessments will more than subsume any imagined savings. The BOE's corrected savings number went from $2.4 million to $1.6 million, and now you have stated as $1.3 million. Is this your final number?

Finally, with over 800 signatories on the petition where do you come up with only a few people being opposed? Typically, local issues like the proposed move of the library to Town Park struggle to get 300 signatures. The last petition to have 800 signatures was the opposition to the ice-skating rink which a referendum showed was opposed by 75% of those in town. I urge you to check that with your demographer or any other statistician.

It seems clear that the community is skeptical of any savings, in fact, believing property values and real estate assessments will be adversely affected. and regardless of the alleged savings, a majority, young and old taxpayers, feels this is not a proper place to be attempting to cut corners. Both the school and the town have conducted surveys in the past, if you are confident in your statements, why not conduct a survey?

JS84:

If those demonstrators at MPES were so proud of their actions why are they hiding like kids who did something wrong.

charles day:

This is Charles Day.
Here is the actual quote I gave the reporter: "I think the town is overwhelmingly in favor of closing LES, some for good reasons and some for bad reasons. There are also a minority of residents, mostly parents of LES students, but not all, who are opposed to closing LES, again some for good reasons and some for bad reasons. A VERY SMALL number of the people who are opposed, probably no more than TEN, have become unhinged and don't reflect the people of this community or the people who are opposed to closing LES."

I must have reiterated that I was referring to a tiny minority a dozen times. I did point to the "protest" at MPES as an example of unhinged behavior.

The quote above has appeared accurately in the Bedford Record Review, The Katonah Patch and the Lewisboro Ledger.

I apologize for how my quote above, which I stand by, was mangled in this article. I was shocked reading it when I think back on the conversation I had with this reporter.

Arizona:

Maybe what all this is really about is Parson's wanting that building for town hall??

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