SARANAC LAKE - Officials from the Saranac Lake Central School District announced last week a committee is looking into the potential closure of Lake Colby School.
This comes on the heels of last year's closure of Lake Clear Elementary School.
Superintendent Jerry Goldman said declining school enrollment and a dicey economic climate contributed to the district's decision to explore the school's potential closure.
Lake Colby School is a small, three-class school serving about 60 kindergarten and universal pre-K students within the state's largest geographical school district.
In year's past, Lake Colby has fielded at least four kindergarten classes.
Goldman said declining state aid and smaller class sizes have led administration to - quote - "seriously consider" closing the school.
He added both kindergarten classes can be folded into the district's Petrova Elementary School, while pre-K students would be sent to Bloomingdale Elementary School.
"If we can do that, it would be financially advantageous for us - and it wouldn't result in any larger class sizes or anything like that," Goldman said.
Goldman anticipates the district would save a significant chunk of money by closing Lake Colby, although he says it's too early to talk about specific numbers.
He noted shuttering the school wouldn't result in any staffing reductions.
Last year, the district closed down Lake Clear Elementary School - leading to some public outcry from parents and teachers. Goldman expects similar disappointment if the committee opts to move forward with closing Lake Colby.
"People like Lake Colby - it's like the 'Little House on the Prairie' school," he said. "But, on the other hand, they're only there for one year, for the most part. I don't think they develop the same sense of community at Lake Colby as they did at Lake Clear. They could have been at Lake Clear for four years - kindergarten through third grade. Plus Lake Clear was, clearly, a neighborhood school for all of the families out there."
Goldman also believes taxpayers are more in tune with the financial realities faced by school districts in New York.
"We're in a different economic environment than we were two years ago," he said. "I think have a sense that we need to look everywhere to save money. It's better to save money by doing things like this, rather than lay off people we really need."
Following last year's closure of Lake Clear, the district leased the building to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.
Goldman anticipates that if the closure moves forward, officials will also consider leasing Lake Colby School.