Cary District 26 to Close Prairie Hill School
In a 5-2 vote, Prairie Hill School will closed. It is one of the largest schools in the district.
Cary District 26 Board of Education voted to 5-2 to close Prairie Hill School.
Board members Scott Coffey and Kevin Carrick were the dissenting votes.
Superintendent Brian Coleman presented the board and the public with two options of closing either Briargate or Prairie Hill School, but the administration's final recommendation, was to close Prairie Hill because it will have the least impact to students/families, maintains a school on both sides of town and it will close a building with the highest operational expense.
The school closings will bring about $1.4 million in cost savings to the district, with reduction of 28.5 positions, which includes teachers, school staff and one principal. There will be eight less bus routes and operational savings from the closing of Prairie Hill.
"Living within our means is not easy,” Jason Larry, board vice-president, said.
"I do believe it is essential for long-term, it’s sustainable health for any company, if a company doesn’t adhere to it, lots of lives are broken and companies go out of business.”
Larry added, “We’ve been talking for six to eight months that we have $5.5 million in reductions to find over four years, this (Closing Prairie Hill) get us one-fourth."
He said we must continue a “laser focus” on getting the compensation structure right in addition to pursuing creative alternatives for managing our schools and curriculum.
Before the vote, board member Kevin Carrick said there is more to be done with the alternatives and concessions has to be made, "there 's just no if, ands or buts about it, there is just no money."
The board has ask the Cary Education Association for $2.5 million in wage and benefit concessions in efforts to get to a balanced budget for the fiscal 2012 budget.
“I don’t think it’s practical,” Carrick said of the two school closing options. “We’ve discussed the quality of the education of the kids, also the ability of teachers that actually perform education, I think its really becoming difficult in the district for either of those things to happen.”
Community member Dina Dziedzic, said, 'Why when our economy is so strained, and tax revenue and state funding is down, why are you shortchanging the students because of your desire to be in the black sooner."
Dziedzic, who has two children in district 26, said "I am very concerned about the classroom sizes at Briargate, other than the obvious educational reasons that classroom sizes should not be large, I am very concerned about the safety of my children."
Coleman said Prairie Hill be closed sometime in the summer because of all the materials and technology within the building needs to be transported.
This plan would move all half-day kindergarten to Three oaks, Deer Path would remain early childhood education and first through fourth grade. Three Oaks remains kindergarten through fourth grade. Prairie Hill and Cary Junior High would stay with their current attendance centers. (This plan was presented but not recommended)
Total Estimated Savings
|Cary Junior High||840||764||755||668|
Projected Class Size
Current average class size: 29.7
2012 Average Class Size: 33.9
Opinion Value is set at $1.3 million, with a moderate sale potential.
|Provides savings to district|
|Oldest building in the District|
|Smallest building in the district which limits space consolidation|
|Moderate potential for being sold in short-term|
|Kindergarten center consolidates resources/staff and focus on narrow age group|
|More students/families impacted by change of buildings|
|Briargate attendance area would require redistribution|
|Eliminates a neighborhood school|
|Close only school on north side of town|
|Majority of students at Briargate would be moving to their second building in two years|
|Attendance centers increase building to building transitions for students/parents|
Kindergarten transported across entire district
Closing Prairie Hill
This plan will cause Briargate to become first through fifth grade, Deer path becomes early childhood education, full-day kindergarten and first through fifth grade. Three Oaks becomes kindergarten through fifth grade with all-half day kindergarten. Cary Junior High School becomes sixth through eighth grade. (This plan was recommended by the administration and the Board of Education voted 5-2 to accept this plan)
Total Estimated Savings
|Cary Junior High||840||764||1,070
Projected Class Size
Current Average Class Size: 29.7
2012 Average Class Size: 31.8
Opinion Value is set at $3.2 million, with a low sale potentia because of it's location.
|Savings to the District|
|Least Impact to students/families|
|Increases vertical articulation with teachers|
|Maintains neighborhood school|
|Maintains a school on both sides of town|
|Less building-to-building transitions|
|Closes building with highest operational expense|
|Potential difficulty in selling property|
|Loss of large building limits space flexibility|
|Cary Junior High will be at maximum enrollment|
|The addition of an assistant principal would be required at Cary Junior High|
|Kindergarten transported across entire district|