By Mallie Kim
The results are in. Across stakeholder categories, the clear favorite in Three Village Central School District’s restructuring survey was Option B, moving up both sixth and ninth grades to mean the two middle schools would house sixth through eighth grades, and the high school would house grades nine through 12.
Option A represented maintaining the current configuration with kindergarten through sixth grade in elementary school, seventh through ninth in junior high, and grades 10-12 in high school; Option C would have moved up only ninth grade; and Option D was the Princeton Plan, which would have split elementary schools and placed upper and lower grades in separate buildings. All four options, including Option B, left open the future possibility of closing or repurposing an elementary school.
Among district parents, staff, secondary students and the community at large, the data followed very similar trends, with the status quo coming in a distant second place when all four options were ranked against each other. “We’re so often told that different groups are in conflict with one another — schools and parents and teachers and politics,” said Deirdre Rubenstrunk, the district’s executive director of technology, at a special meeting to present survey results to the Board of Education on Monday, March 13. “But here we got to see in this data a real alignment of where people want to go, and as a school district administrator, that was really reassuring.”
The strategic planning committee recommended the board adopts Option B, but BOE president Susan Rosenzweig said they would take their time making a decision.
“We are not in a rush to make this vote; there’s a lot to consider,” she said, pointing out that there were many helpful comments and concerns written in the survey responses, especially from some forward-thinking teachers who had suggestions from the front lines. “We’re going to do what’s absolutely the very best for the kids but while remaining within our fiduciary responsibilities.”
Restructuring plans are separate from the budget planning currently in process for the 2023-24 school year, but restructuring is under consideration because of declining enrollment trends and other budget concerns.
Even if the board votes to adopt Option B in the coming weeks, that would mark only the beginning of the work, according to Superintendent of Schools Kevin Scanlon. Whatever the board decides, he said, “the work then begins for the employees of the district — the administration, the staff.”
If Option B moves forward, Scanlon said, district staff would need to go through all the nitty gritty details to figure out logistics, such as moving instructional staff, adjusting curriculum and planning to have enough guidance counselors in the right school buildings. That work, Scanlon said, would need to be finished by next December to make implementing changes for the 2024-25 school year possible. “We want to do this properly,” he said. “We don’t want to rush at this.”
Scanlon mentioned that making secondary school start times later, the part of the strategic planning committee process that wasn’t included in the survey, was still high on the administration’s priority list, but they have not yet figured out logistics and finances.
The district plans to schedule four informational meetings in coming weeks, two at night and two during the day, to explain the survey results to interested parents and community members. In the meantime, the results — including comments — are posted on the district’s website and can be found by clicking on the “District” drop-down menu and selecting “Committees.”