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Porter Town Board hears of Stevenson closing

by jmaloni
Sat, Oct 19th 2013 07:00 am

Porter tire collection day is Oct. 26

by Terry Duffy

The closing of W.H. Stevenson Elementary School in Ransomville occupied appreciable discussion at what was an otherwise low-key Porter Town Board regular session on Oct. 7.

With the unanticipated news by the Wilson Board of Education's decision on Oct. 8 to close down Stephenson Elementary School in Ransomville come June 2104, the board's attention that Monday turned to what will become of the Stevenson facility and its students. Town Recreation Commission Chair Debbie Parker said she was considering formation of a committee of local residents to discuss the issue. "The (Wilson) board says the area lacks community support to keep it open," Parker told the board.

That view was cemented the following evening when the Wilson Board of Education voted 5-2 to close down Stevenson effective at the end the current school year. According to news reports, Wilson Superintendent Michael Wendt said the BOE had reached its decision after dealing with the impact of a twice-rejected 2013-14 school district budget last spring by voters. Wilson is now operating under a contingency budget, and while Wilson BOE members indicated their move was unfortunate for Stevenson's 200-plus students and their families, Wendt said the board was limited on its options. A board study in 2012 when the district was last considering shutting down Stevenson revealed up to $500,000 in potential savings.

Wendt didn't say how much savings the district would realize by closing down the school this time, but he did say the closing would go to assist the district, which faces financial uncertainty down the road. Further he said the school would remain "switch ready" should enrollment increase in the district to permit reopening.

Parker advised the Porter board of some areas her yet-to-be organized committee might consider. Included is involving the Lewiston-Porter School District, since a number of Stevenson students' families actually reside in Porter and are considered residents of the Lew-Port District; the consideration of enlisting a private group to possibly take over Stevenson as a charter school; and what to do with portions of Porter's recreation programs that operate out of Stevenson.

Interestingly, the Porter Board announced on Oct. 7 that installation of its long-sought-for school zone safety lights would soon be underway at Stevenson - further evidence of the unexpected vote in Wilson. The Stevenson matter will likely continue as an active discussion item before the Porter board over coming months.

In other news that night:

•The town announced it would be holding a tire collection day open to Porter residents only on Saturday Oct. 26, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ransomville firehall on Ransomville Road.

•Town Highway Superintendent Scott Hillman informed the board that final brush pick-ups would be Monday, Nov. 4 for areas west of Lutts Road and Tuesday, Nov. 5 for the balance of the town.

Hillman also presented the board with two bids for approval. One was a low bid of $8,200 by Blastoff Inc. of Buffalo for sandblasting and painting of two highway tandem axle trucks. The other was a low bid of $8,173 by Vaughan Door Center for replacement of two overhead doors in the main garage. Both were approved unanimously.

•The board was informed that installation of playground equipment at Porter on the Lake was expected to get underway. Other improvements expected for the park are up to 20 new picnic tables, said Councilman Larry White, who said funding was likely to come via grants and private donations.

•The board announced Halloween trick or treat hours for Town of Porter and Village of Youngstown residents would be Thursday, Oct. 31, from 5 to 7 p.m.

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