GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The Greenburgh Central 7 Board of Education has one goal for the district this year — movement, both physically and academically.
In a special Board of Education meeting, board members and Superintendent Ron Ross met with representatives of the Educational Legacy Planning group, a professional organization that manages the planning and design of school facilities, and unveiled a goal: to consolidate Greenburgh's six schools into new facilities.
"We're the diamond that nobody seems to know about," board member Claudia Laser said about the Greenburgh Central 7 school district. "A consolidation will do many things. We have great things going on right now, but it's covered by the physical things people see."
Board members listened to ELP Executive Director Robert Hendricks, who told them that consolidating the district into fewer buildings would help the district not just financially. Students' test scores are higher in districts with fewer buildings than in districts where students must move through different buildings, according to recent studies.
With consolidation still in the planning stage, the board members must decide how they want to consolidate the schools, whether it be kindergarten-eighth grade with no junior high school, or K-sixth grade and keeping a junior high school.
"We have to understand where we want to go," Hendricks said. "You have to get the community's input not when the process is complete, but before the process begins."
Most of the board members echoed that Greenburgh Central gets misrepresented by its outdated buildings — Laser added that some parents are "scared" to go inside R.J. Bailey School. Board President Lloyd Newland said too much money goes into fixing and maintaining all the buildings, and consolidating into fewer buildings could help to lower the high taxes that currently result from Greenburgh Central's six schools.
Amy Huang, a parent with two children in the district who told the board at its last meeting that it needed to put together a goal for the year, said she likes the idea of consolidating schools. However, she was disappointed that she and other community members didn't get to add input.
"Do I feel like they communicated with us? No. But the plan could be exciting, and I'm all for consolidating schools," Huang said.
Newland said the board will create an educational forum in the coming weeks to hear the community and see what people say about partnering with ELP.
"We want to hear what the community has to offer," he said. "It's another one of our mission goals — gaining back the confidence of the community."