Central Square hears public comment as it considers closing a school

The Central Square School District is considering closing a school building to cut costs.

On Monday night, the district reviewed findings of a focus group tasked with ranking six possible options.

"The focus group was limited to the study that the consultant did, and only those options were allowed to be discussed," said focus group participant Jeffrey Reed. "And the consensus of the focus group was that there are better options on the table."

Additional options include closing Cleveland or Cole Elementary Schools. The district is looking to help close a budget gap that has grown due to cuts in state aid and solve the problem of under-utilized schools.

The focus group said closing the middle school and selling it to an interested racetrack developer may be the best bet.

"That building, as far as I can tell, has never been full since it was built," said Reed. "And the discussions of consolidating elementary schools and potentially closing elementary schools...this is an effort to fill that building."

"[It's the] most marketable building, the newest building," said Al Hanson. "And then move all the kids back, K-6, back into the elementary schools. Which again, would fill the elementary schools, which is our challenge now. We don't have enough elementary kids."

Other parents want to see more transparency. "Whatever the board's decision, I want them to post that on a website, what their goals are," said parent Jennifer Pownall. "And then quarterly update us as to how they're doing against those goals."

The district says it's goal is to come to a consensus about a decision in early March.