Sullivan West enrollment drops, mulls selling closed campuses
By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON Take Sullivan West’s unexpectedly lucrative sale of the old Narrowsburg bus garage and the district’s continued enrollment free-fall, and the closed Narrowsburg campus is being eyed as a valuable asset… to sell.
The same might be true of the closed Delaware Valley campus in Callicoon save for the belief that even more valuable natural gas may be trapped underneath it.
Such thoughts tumbled through the minds of SW board members and the few public attendees at Thursday’s forum on facilities and enrollment, hosted by SW Superintendent Ken Hilton at the Lake Huntington high school.
“Obviously, no decisions have been made,” cautioned Hilton, referring not just to the buildings but to the scaled-down plans for the high school’s athletic fields.
Administrators, engineer Arnie Bertsche and the board’s Facilities Needs Committee have spent the past few months reconfiguring the narrow acreage behind the campus, emerging with a plan to build six tennis courts, a baseball field, a football field (which currently exists), a softball field and a mile-long cross-country trail.
Significantly reduced from the original plan, the idea was quickly the focus of other suggestions Thursday, including one from board members Angela Daley and Rich Sandler to create some soccer fields to keep the bulk of the fall sports activities in Lake Huntington, while at the same time building the baseball and softball fields at the elementary campus in Jeffersonville to coalesce the spring sports there.
Hilton encouraged the dialogue, which then switched to the buildings themselves.
Noting the district’s capacity to serve 3,500 students while only having an enrollment of 1,313 which is projected to continue decreasing he was blunt about DV and Narrowsburg’s 55-year-old and 80-year-old campuses, respectively.
“We will not need them for children in my lifetime,” he remarked.
Yet SW continues to maintain both structures to ward off more expensive repairs. Assistant Supt. for Business Larry Lawrence estimated such costs will exceed $2 million over the next five years.
“So the question is,” observed Lake Huntington resident John Reggero, “what is the purpose? ... There’s no projected need.”
Board member Richard Tegnander was the first to mull aloud the prospect of selling the buildings, especially since the Narrowsburg bus garage will soon be sold if the bid is accepted for nearly twice the asking price.
Board member Shaun Sensiba even foresaw a day when dropping enrollment might require consolidating to a single school, but fellow board member Ken Cohen urged caution, especially if natural gas drilling pans out in the area.
Hilton felt DV in particular should be retained in the near future, just in case the massive effort to replace the Jeffersonville elementary school’s 70-year-old slate roof forces students to relocate temporarily.
In the meantime, however, he agreed with board members that an appraisal of both DV and Narrowsburg would be worthwhile.