CITY SCHOOLS: Tradition allows for struggles

Four elementary schools in Dunkirk are three too many. But you may not be able to break a stubborn tradition in the city any time soon.

Last week an OBSERVER Retrospective noted that 30 years ago, there was an effort to build a consolidated elementary school. Of course, it failed. In 2005, during embattled Superintendent Carl Militello’s administration, another push for one elementary school just barely failed to receive enough support — failing by 13 votes.

Thus today, we still have Schools 3, 4, 5 and 7. But not all these schools have the same numbers, especially when you consider grade levels. In School 5, as noted at last week’s board meeting, there may be a reduction of one first-grade class due to enrollment levels. This brought some concern from parents.

Superintendent James Tracy responded: “Unfortunately, every single year, School 5, probably for the last 15 years that I’ve found, class sizes change around. For years, what’s happened here in Dunkirk and it’s always with School 5, the numbers aren’t where they should be, so the district tries to equalize them.”

In this day and age, we don’t need neighborhood schools. But because this community is often so slow or resistant to change, it impacts our younger generation — those in the elementary levels.

This problem, unfortunately, won’t go away until a new structure is approved — or city residents finally do decide on only one elementary building.