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South Lewis district prepares for Constableville Elementary closure

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CONSTABLEVILLE — South Lewis Central School District officials have planned several events to commemorate Constableville Elementary School and help prepare for its impending closure.

“I think they’re going very well,” Superintendent Douglas E. Premo said of the transitional events, which began in early May. “They’re beneficial for the students, parents and even the school staff.”

A “Celebration of C’ville” event will be held Friday morning in the elementary school’s gymnasium.

“We want to recognize the closing of the building,” said Mr. Premo, whose father was a member of Constableville’s final high school graduating class just before district centralization in 1963.

The program, being organized by the Constableville Elementary School student council, will include a 20-minute video presentation, along with comments by the student council president and Board of Education President Barry R. Worczak. Members of each class are also to share their fondest memories of the school, and items will be collected for a time capsule.

Citing budgetary constraints, the board in January voted to close the school for the 2012-13 school year, with its pupils split between Glenfield and Port Leyden. Fifth-graders will be moved from elementary schools to the middle school.

The district is anticipating cost savings of $600,000 to $650,000 from the move, and officials are planning additional programs, such as fifth- and sixth-grade intramurals and before-school activities for elementary pupils, in conjunction with the switch.

In early May, fourth- and fifth-graders from the three elementary schools separately visited and ate lunch at the middle school, while Constableville kindergarten through third-grade pupils did the same at the school they will attend in the next school year.

An activity night for all fourth- and fifth-grade pupils also was held to help them get acquainted, and evening open houses were held at the middle school, Port Leyden and Glenfield for parents of incoming students to those buildings.

Moving-up days for children at the three elementary schools will take place over the next several days, starting today with Constableville.

“We’ve kind of doubled them this year because of two grades moving up to the middle school,” Mr. Premo said.

Tuesday will be the last day of classes for elementary and middle school pupils.

Parental concerns about busing changes prompted school officials already to develop a preliminary schedule for next year, Mr. Premo said. Parents have been invited to call the bus garage for a “ballpark figure” on when their children likely will be picked up and returned home, he said.

Officials also expect to create a final busing schedule relatively early, probably sometime in August, to give plenty of time to prepare for the new routes, Mr. Premo said.

“We’ll continue to try to work with parents,” he said.

District officials over the past several months have focused their efforts on making the transition from three elementary schools to two as seamless as possible, leaving the Constableville school building’s fate undecided, Mr. Premo said.

“There really hasn’t been a substantial discussion at all on the building itself,” he said, adding that those talks likely will get more serious in the coming months.

The district, with assistance from the Lewis County economic development and planning office, earlier this year applied for a state grant to conduct a reuse study on the school building, but the proposal was not funded, Mr. Premo said.

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