MWDN: Southborough study says closing elementary school is possible

The question of how many schools Southborough needs in the face of declining enrollment has been an ongoing – and often heated – debate for several years now. A study released this week suggests the town could get away with closing one school as soon as 2016, but the K-8 School Committee isn’t necessarily convinced it’s a good idea.

The study, which identifies Neary as the most realistic option for closing, was the work of the K-8 Housing Study Group convened last fall by the K-8 School Committee. The group was comprised of town department heads, school administrators, and Chairman of the Board of Selectmen John Rooney.

Reports the Metrowest Daily News:

Chairwoman Linda Murdock, principal of the Neary Elementary School, said Wednesday that the committee analyzed a wealth of enrollment and other projections in coming to its conclusions.

The report states that although there would be physically possible to fit all K-8 students into three schools by the 2015-2016 school year, doing so would create “significant” negative educational impacts.

By 2016-2017, the impacts would be “small or moderate,” the study finds, while in 2017-2018 there would be “small or no educational impacts.”

Projected cost savings per year range from $140,000 to $300,000, the committee said, with the town saving more but also assuming more risk if it chooses to designate the building for temporary use.

You can read more about conclusions from the study, along with the School Committee’s response, in this article by the MWDN.

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SB Resident
10 years ago

“I wish coming out of this would have been a gleaming answer,” member Marybeth Strickland said. I don’t understand the above quote. The study was shown that closing the school by 17-18 to have “small or no educational impacts.” That sounds like a gleaming answer. Maybe the MWDN article was just lacking in some detail explaining why that isn’t the answer. I couldn’t find the report, and really don’t want to read 63 pages. Maybe someone can write up some cliff notes?

I’ll bet the impacts are a little overstated out of being conservative, so 16-17 is probably a better bet. Based on the article, it sounds like it would be safe to make closing Neary for 16-17 ‘the plan’ and keeping the document living so that we can react if any assumptions are wrong. That isn’t that far away, and the article implies the school committee plans to ‘sit on it’. If doing this is a reality, I would think planning for it sooner rather than later would make the whole process smoother and would allow us to reduce the impacts.

Al Hamilton
10 years ago

Lets be clear in the early 2000’s we operated a K-8 system with over 200 more students than we have today. How many schools did we have? Three! Woodward was demonished.

My kids were in the system then and I believe they received a good education.

We are desperately trying to find the money to fund our union contracts. This topic has been kicked down the road repeatedly and it sure looks like it is happening again. There really is no reason to continue operating 4 schools now. We need to find the courage to make hard decisions.

10 years ago

3 schools are plenty. Don’t make this decision a long drawn out process and wind up sinking more money into Neary just to keep it running. It needs a lot of work. Although I’m sure we’ll still be spending money on it since the town will pick it up as another town building; rec center, police station, senior center, DYS.

10 years ago

I agree, close Neary, pay the minimum to keep it functioinal for now, if it turns out we will not need it, level it and turn it into a sancuary! I will donate to a fund to finance it into purpetuity . The “school” folks, and I have three ids in the schools, will always want to keep them running I think.

10 years ago

Why do we even need a union for town employees? And why do we spend about twice as much on employee benefits as we do on public saftey?

Al Hamilton
10 years ago
Reply to  Rob


“We” do not have a voice in that decision. Mass is a very union friendly state. The employees are the only ones that have a voice in the decision to unionize. Since we are not a “Right to Work” state all employees must join the union once it is formed.

Public sector unions are very strong in this state. They have a lot of influence on Beacon Hill so do not look for change any time soon.

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