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School superintendent: Elementary school temporarily closing because state was late to approve upgrades

Parents learned of the shakeup Thursday afternoon in a note from Highland-Falls-Fort Montgomery Schools Superintendent Michael McElduff.

Ben Nandy

May 31, 2024, 9:54 PM

Updated 21 days ago

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Some parents of students at Fort Montgomery Elementary School told News 12 they were blindsided by news that the school would shut down for the 2024-2025 school year.
They learned of the shakeup Thursday afternoon in a note from Highland-Falls-Fort Montgomery Schools Superintendent Michael McElduff.
McElduff explained that elementary students – kindergarten through second grade – will have classes at the intermediate school.
To free up space at the intermediate school, students in grades seven and eight will be bumped up to James O'Neill High School.
"My son's going to be in second grade. He thinks he's going back to this school. Now he's not," Maria Travis, a parent of a second grader, told News 12. "Now we have to tell him that he's going to the middle school."
"There's a week and a half of school left, and I'm all like, 'OK, my little ones coming here, he (her other child) is coming to the intermediate school," parent Ann Brant said. "I was excited. And then, Bam."
Superintendent Michael McElduff told families in Thursday's letter the district had submitted plans to the New York State Education Department in October 2023 to expand class space at Fort Montgomery Elementary.
He told News 12 it was his understanding the state usually approves a project within 14 weeks.
"Now we're at 28-plus weeks," McElduff said in a Zoom interview Friday morning.
He said the district must start the project later this summer, as soon as it is approved.
He said he has been in communication with NYSED about the delay and expects approval in early June.
McElduff said waiting until next year to start the project would cost taxpayers an extra $750,000 in increased costs and inflation.
"It would not be a fiscally responsible decision for our community, to be honest," he said. "Really, we came back to the only option which was to close to elementary school for one year."
McElduff said holding classes as usual while heavy-duty construction is happening in the school would be unsafe.
A NYSED representative acknowledged News 12's emailed questions late Friday, and said the office is "working on gathering responses to your questions."
McElduff is asking any parents with questions about the school shakeup to come to a community forum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at James O'Neil High School.


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