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Gouverneur district will research Fowler Elementary questions

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GOUVERNEUR — None of the 16 residents who attended Monday’s meeting of the Gouverneur Central School Board of Education publicly commented on the possible closure of Fowler Elementary School, but district administrators will research answers to written questions submitted for a report to be given at a Feb. 11 forum.

Questions included the actual savings of closing the school, other options that might be considered, whether a nurse has to be at every building and how parents were informed of the potential closure.

The board scheduled the 7 p.m. Feb. 11 meeting in the high school auditorium to give the public a chance to weigh in on the school’s future.

District officials have identified savings of $224,000 in the first year if the school is closed, mostly from reduced utilities and building maintenance.

The staff, excepting one teaching position possibly eliminated because of retirement, would transfer to East Side or West Side elementary schools. Average class sizes would remain at 18 to 23 pupils.

Potential savings already outlined by administrators do not include money the district is saving by not filling positions that have been vacated by retirements, proceeds if the building were sold, a more efficient use of existing facilities or the fact that some children — 28 of the building’s 116 pupils — would not be bused from Gouverneur to Fowler.

Superintendent Lauren F. French said she appreciates being able to investigate questions before the forum.

“Put on the spot, I might not have accurate information,” she said.

The board is expected to make a decision on the school’s future Feb. 25.

“This is not what anyone wishes to do,” Mrs. French said.

The closure is being considered not only for monetary reasons, but because of declining enrollments. The district has a total of 12 empty classrooms at its other two elementary schools.

For the same reason, the district closed the Balmat Elementary School in the 1960s and elementary schools in Brasie Corners and Richville in 1981, Mrs. French said.

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