Information sessions set on possible school moves

By TOM TIGANI
Times-Herald Staff Reporter

 

TRENTON — Trenton Public Schools Board of Education members heard from parents Monday about proposed changes in the district’s elementary schools, and decided that they need to hear more before any changes are made.

 

About 20 parents turned out for a discussion that Supt. John Savel said went “positively.” Afterward, members asked that the administration hold community forums at each elementary school on the challenges facing the district. Among those challenges are declining elementary enrollment numbers, a trend that has been ongoing for about 10 years, and like other districts, declining finances.

 

“We’ve got a great education program here,” Savel said, “and the challenge is to keep it and maybe even expand it to an even stronger educational program.

 

Scheduled for Feb. 10 at Hedke, Feb. 11 at Taylor and Feb. 12 at Anderson, the sessions will provide a chance for administrators to lay out those challenges for the public and receive parent input. Administrators then will incorporate that input into a plan that would be submitted to the board for approval, possibly as soon as the Feb. 16 or March 9 meeting.

 

Suggestions from meetings late last year included ways to restructure Anderson, Hedke and Taylor elementary schools for 2009-10. Savel said they basically come down three options: keeping three elementary school buildings; keeping two, one for grades one through five and making the other kindergarten and preschool; or simply going to two buildings.

 

A move to full-day kindergarten in two years to accommodate a proposed state policy change also would be taken into account, he said. Residents generally have responded cooperatively to the pending changes.
“Nobody wants to make cuts and everybody wants to keep our educational program at a high level,” Savel said, “and we’re trying to work together to get to that point.”

 

In other board news, members approved the construction manager’s contract with McCarthy & Smith Inc. for districtwide construction funded by a bond issue passed last fall.

 

Two elementary school projects are expected to start this spring, and will include refurbishing buildings, replacing windows and doors; new furniture; electrical and technology wiring; and heating, ventilation and air conditioning renovations.

 

Members also elected their new slate of officers, changing their terms to match their Jan. 1-through-Dec. 31 elected terms. 2009 officers include President Wayne Sieloff, Vice President Marie Conflitti, Secretary Dennis Bearden and Treasurer Michael Hawkins. (Contact Tom Tigani at tom.tigani@timesheraldnewspapers.com.)