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UPDATE: Pastel responds to petition protesting plans to study grade shifting

CSD to hold public forum on Nov. 12 to hear ideas

The Skaneateles Central School District will soon be looking at some potentially controversial changes to deal with declining enrollment.

An email sent to Skaneateles community members by Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel about the district’s intention to study grade shifting sparked public opposition in the form of an online petition last week.

After the petition received more than 100 signatures in less than one day, Pastel set up a meeting with its author and released a statement expressing the district’s intent to get public feedback and explore a variety of options.

Pastel’s message, sent out via the school district’s School News Notifier system and posted to the district website on Oct. 23, states that the board of education will discuss its intention to study potential grade level shifts at its upcoming Nov. 5 meeting.

In the email Pastel writes: “Those shifts would involve grade two being housed at State Street while grade five would be housed at the middle school. The study and ensuing conversations are important in light of our determination to maintain and in some cases expand our excellent educational programs despite declining enrollment and financial stresses.”

On Oct. 24, Skaneateles resident Jessica Millman published a petition on gopetition.com that calls for the district to develop a more detailed plan for its future and get input from the entire community

It reads: “We, the undersigned, are kindly asking the administration and the board of education to engage the entire community (all the stakeholders from students, to teachers, to parents, to residents) in drafting a long-term plan that explores multiple options to address declining enrollment and required Common Core Learning Standards.”

As of Friday afternoon, the petition had more than 100 signatures, most of which included names. As of press time the petition had 165 signatures.

Millman said that the petition was not meant to be adversarial, but to express to the board and administration that the community wants to explore a variety of paths in planning for its future.

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