Warren School has always been a gem of the Region 6 school district, but with a shriveling enrollment it has become a drag on the district’s finances.
This summer the Region 6 Board of Education will consider a plan by Superintendent of Schools Christopher Leone to close the small school at the end of the 2018-19 school year and save an estimated $1,012,538 in the cost of staff, benefits, learning programs and supplies, administration, and operations and maintenance.
Leone presented the plan to the board on Monday as part of a presentation of a preliminary Region 6 budget for 2018-19. The superintendent was directed by the board to issue a report on the Warren School and recommend what to do with it.
The school has just 66 students in grades K-6 this year. It is simply too small to be efficient in the way it delivers education and its operational costs would be hard to justify.
Under the plan Leone presented, Warren students would likely be shipped to the James Morris School in Morris, which he said is operating at half of its capacity.
A more detailed plan will be presented to the school board in June, Leone said. The plan will show cost savings, options for moving Warren students, and what the district could use the school building for in the future.
It will be up to the school board to decide if the plan should be presented to voters in Warren, Morris and Goshen. If the board agrees with the plan, referendums would be held in each town. All three towns would have to approve closure of the school.
If one or more towns decide against closure, the school would remain open.
A consolidated elementary school system would not only be more fiscally efficient, it would result in larger and better class sizes, more social contact for students, better opportunities for teachers, and improved curriculum, according to Leone.
On the downside, Warren would lose a centerpiece of its community, students would face longer bus rides, and staff would be reduced. Eighteen staff positions at Warren School would be eliminated in a consolidation, according to Leone. Teachers and administrators with seniority, however, would be able to take the jobs of less experienced staff.