Closing a school could be an option to save money in Onondaga

One feature convinced Jackie Dietz to buy her home in Nedrow when she saw it for the first time. The home is right across the street from Rockwell Elementary. Dietz was excited to learn that she could walk her kids to pre-school and their first few years of school.

Rockwell currently has preschool through second grade. Now Dietz is trying to keep Rockwell open as the Onondaga School District considers a plan to shut down the school and save approximately $700,000 a year

"There are a lot of different creative options other than saying - done with the building, quickest and easiest way to go," said Dietz.

Onondaga is currently facing a budget gap of close to a million dollars. At a Tuesday night budget forum, the district gave a presentation that showed some options for how the district could cut costs. One of the options would involve turning Wheeler Elementary into a kindergarten through fourth grade school and moving fifth graders to the junior high school.

Superintendent Joseph Rotella says devastating cuts in state aid have forced the board to consider painful options.

"So they can lay out all the options and have all the accurate information and again for the fourth year in a row make difficult decisions," said Rotella.

On Tuesday night several parents spoke out against the idea of closing Rockwell Elementary and asked the district to look at other pieces of the budget for cuts. Onondaga previously considered closing Rockwell in 1996 but that proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by voters.

Some parents at Tuesday's budget forum said they would rather move than deal with a reconfiguration plan that would shut down Rockwell.

"This comes from my heart, if you move my children up into a high school setting at fifth grade I will not be a parent in Onondaga Central," said Rosemary Forian.

Onondaga's superintendent said he still hopes the state will reconfigure their aid formula and provide more aid to the district. Rotella said the current formula unfairly penalizes small and rural school districts like Onondaga.