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Farmington parents battle to keep schools open

Posted at 10:26 PM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 22:26:37-04

Farmington parents are getting their last chance to speak out about a controversial plan to close several schools in the district because of declining enrollment.

The state's population drain has parents dealing with some cold hard math aimed at figuring out what to do when you have more schools than kids to fill them.

One by one, Farmington parents pleaded their cases, hoping to keep their neighborhood schools open.

"Partly what makes this district special is the fact that we do have three high schools," says parent Joe O’Connor.

But the school board says the population drain is having an impact on enrollment, forcing it to shut down of some schools, including a high school.

“Our district was built to house about 12,500 kids,” say School Board President Howard Wallash. “We're down to about 9,900 and it looks like we will lose about another four to six hundred over the next several years.  We simply can't operate public schools at 65 percent capacity anymore.”

Some parents question the school board's population estimates.

"The Great Recession is over,” says O’Connor. “People have started to have kids again so things are starting to increase and you're seeing it even at the kindergarten level."

The school board expects to save between four and six million dollars a year by closing schools.  It admits that could mean a longer bus ride for many students, leaving parents with some disturbing questions.

“How much longer will she have to travel?,” asks parent Antoinette Hughes. “Then that would mean there are no schools in my particular area of town and I don't like that at all."

The school board says the next step is to come up with a reconfiguration plan; for example K-8 or K-5.  That plan is expected to be in place by December. 

A final decision on which schools will close will be made March.