Adding to the uncertainty in each of these districts is the traditional guessing game involved in assembling school district budgets. Administrators don’t know how much state aid they can count on until after the state legislature passes the budget in April. Then it’s up to the voters to OK the school budgets on May 15, known here as “Super Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, teachers and staffers at the affected elementary schools are preparing their students—and themselves—for the coming closures in the massive game of musical chairs.
“My fifth graders right now are the kindergarteners I started with, and so I’m fortunate to be able to see them graduate,” says Janine Pratt Lavery, principal of Nesconset Elementary, with a tremble in her voice as she reflects on the personal connection to the school and its students that she’s formed over the past six years.
“I’m at a place where I know all the children. I know their stories, their journeys,” she continues. “I love these kids. They’re amazing kids, but I am certain that they’ll be fine wherever they go.
“We’re trying to remain positive, and it’s important that I continue to send the message to the community that their children are going to be OK, and that I can say without any reservation,” she adds. “We’ve begun to prepare ourselves emotionally for the possibility. Of course, the most important thing is ensuring a smooth transition for the children.”
—With additional reporting by Rashed Mian and Lea Weatherby