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Parents express concern over Town of Webb school community space proposal

WEBB, N.Y.-- The superintendent of the Town of Webb UFSD is proposing a change to the school building that would accommodate community programs.

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 11:56 PM

WEBB, N.Y.-- The superintendent of the Town of Webb UFSD is proposing a change to the school building that would accommodate community programs.

The proposal would relocate grades three, four and five to an upper floor in the K-12 building. The older elementary wing would then be fitted with thicker doors and alarms, and could become a space for college classes and senior citizen activities.

According to superintendent Rex Germer, the Senior Health, Activities and Recreation Program (SHARP) has already expressed interest in holding their weekly meetings in the new space, and possibly increasing the number of meetings if the Board of Education approves the project.

"This is all very preliminary at this point," Germer said. "If we do this, there will be a lot of things that have to be worked out."

While Germer said the community wing would be secure, it wouldn't be entirely sealed off from the rest of the school.

"Secure that hallway, lock it down in a sense, but still allow access when the teachers want access," Germer said. "Last week's [Adirondack] Express had an article about this potential community move, and on the next page, was pictures of our students interacting with SHARP at Niccolls Memorial. We're already doing those interactions, we're just having to go off-site to do that."

The president of Webb's Health Center Fund, which sponsors SHARP, spoke at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting about the benefits of seniors and children interacting during activities.

"What we've heard time and time again when we talk about these kinds of facilities are the benefits of being multi-generational, of exposing young people to older people and older people to younger people," Don Kelly, president of the Health Center Fund said. "One of the most popular events at SHARP are those events where children come over to visit them."

However, parents at the meeting countered with concerns about the childrens' safety.

"I would anticipate struggling with having my small child around strangers, potentially mixing with strangers that I don't know," Meg Ulrich, a parent said.

"I don't think we have enough information to make intelligent decisions. I don't think we have enough information being given to us," Stephanie Graham, another parent said. "Could we please see some of the case studies as to the benefits and or, I don't want to use the word negatives, to these types of programs within a school?"

According to the BOE minutes from the April 18 meeting, the Adirondack Foundation has offered a $5,000 grant to the school if the project is approved. 

The president of the board said their goal is still to gather as much community input as possible before making a decision.

"An idea that is subject to change, and I would hope that this group would give us the necessary feedback to make it better," Joseph Phaneuf, the board president said.

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