COURTNEY VEAUNT/County News file photo
Schools in crisis
Dansville Middle School closure forum packs the gym
With the Dansville Middle School facing possible closure, district officials held a public forum Tuesday, March 15 for parents and students effected by a potential relocation to the Main Street campus.
Earlier this month, Superintendent Paul Alioto proposed a number of cuts to help close a budget deficit which was then nearly $3.8 million. His proposal included closing the Dansville Middle School, located on Clara Barton Street, and relocating its students.
While the potential cuts are significant, closing the Dansville Middle School offers some opportunity for improvement. Some positives include opportunities for curriculum alignment, decreasing the number of transitions (between buildings) by one, the creation of a unified code of conduct for grades 7-12, and more.
Principal Amy Schiavi noted that the Dansville Middle School currently has opportunities for student acceleration in two subject areas. However, by moving to the high school, there may be the opportunity to include/offer more.
In contrast, potential weaknesses may include increased class sizes, a decrease in the number of electives offered, a decrease in the number of AP opportunities, more strain on computer lab and library space, and changes in AIS (academic intervention services).
Regarding class sizes, Alioto noted, “I think we were going to see this anyway.”
If the Dansville Middle School is closed, sixth grade students are projected to be in the Ellis B. Hyde Elementary School. Thus, Principal Palotti discussed the general plan for housing the additional 120 students. The plan calls for fifth and sixth grade classrooms to be located on the second floor of the building.
Despite a decrease in the number of building transitions, Palotti expressed his belief that the transition from sixth to seventh would be bigger . He noted steps will have to be taken to “make the transition between 6th and 7th grade a smooth one”.
Seventh and eighth grade students would likely be placed in the Dansville High School. Principal Falzoi discussed preliminary plans for housing the additional 200 students.
While there would be minimal interaction between the younger and older students, Falzoi addressed parental concerns about bullying. “It is not something that we take lightly in any shape or form,” he said. “You have to make it [the punishment for bullying] so it’s not worth it to do.”
Adding to Falzoi’s comments, Superintendent Alioto noted his desire to see a more unified approach to bullying. “I want to see us do more,” he said.
Despite acknowledging that bullying would not be tolerated, Falzoi expressed his belief that interaction between the students would be more positive than negative.
Even though plans continue to be developed, Falzoi noted that more still needs to be done. The Dansville High School does not currently have enough lockers to accommodate the additional students. In addition, a seventh grade orientation program would have to be developed and supplies moved to the Main Street campus (from the Dansville Middle School). Staff will also have to be “on the same page”.
After the presentation, school officials answered questions from those in the audience. Topics included the potential lunch schedule at the high school, health class, the Family and Career Science program, AP courses, potential for staggered start times, the Special Education program, the future of the Dansville Middle School building, and more.
While the AP program faces cuts, Falzoi said, “No question that AP is a necessity for a vibrant and healthy high school.”
Lastly, district officials reminded those in attendance that the proposed cuts are across the board. Schiavi said, “No stone has been unturned.”