City of Tonawanda residents have approved consolidating their three elementary schools into one. It is an initiative called for in the final phase of the city's TONA2020 reorganization plan.
In a letter to the district, Superintendent Timothy Oldenburg and Board of Education President Heather Sternin say each elementary school has "numerous reconstruction and replacement needs," and they will only get more expensive to maintain and remain functional in coming years. The Elementary School Improvement & Consolidation Project addreses that.
Nearly 65% of 883 voters approved the initiative. It calls for closing Mullen and Riverview, while upgrading Fletcher Elementary. Approval needed 60% of voters in favor to move ahead.
The district said the total $53.5 million project will be funded "mainly by available State Building Aid, including a one-time additional cost allowance allocation of $12.9 million to be provided by the State Education Department, and available District funds. The remaining “local share” would be financed through the local tax levy."
To allow for construction, 4th graders will attend Riverview and Mullen schools in attached temporary classrooms, while 5th graders will attend school in a separate wing of the middle school during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years.
School officials say the initiative will not only advance the city's educational programs, but meet the future needs of students in a permanent tax cap. Previous phases of TONA2020 provided a stadium and sports complex shared by student athletes and community members, performing arts instructional space and central offices attached to the high school.