School board votes to close Kindergarten Center

Parents and teachers filled Howard B. Mattlin Middle School Monday night as the Plainview-Old Bethpage School Board unanimously voted on a proposal to close the district's Kindergarten Center.

The board prefaced the vote by saying that while the decision was difficult, it was the right one. The members hope the community will be able to come together and support the transition, allowing it to go as smoothly as possible.

School officials say enrollment has been on the decline at the center. Under the new proposal, the students would be moved to local elementary schools, although many parents say they are worried about overcrowded conditions.

According to Superintendent Dr. Lorna Lewis, demographic surveys were conducted and concluded that overcrowding would not be an issue. She says moving the students to local schools will actually increase quality-of-life issues for the youngsters, such as cutting down on long bus commutes, especially when some kids travel 50 minutes to the center.

While school administrators have said the money saved from closing the center would help fund a ninth period of classes at the high-school level, Lewis says the situation is more about consistency of instruction.

"Within three years, these young children... are transitioning with three different schools, three different administrations, three different cultures," Lewis said.

Parents disagree, saying the school helped their children by providing an experience that could not be matched anywhere.

The closure will affect students enrolling in the 2016-17 school term.

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