In February 2012, Smithtown Central School District's Board of Education responded to a Citizens Advisory Committee's recommendation and voted to close an elementary school. In June 2012, the District closed Nesconset Elementary School. Subsequently, 100% of Nesconset Elementary students were moved/redistricted to Mills Pond Elementary School and 60% of Mills Pond students were redistricted to Saint James Elementary School. The remaining 40% of original Mills Pond Elementary students reside in southeast Saint James, the area south of Woodlawn Avenue between Lake Avenue and Moriches Road.
Historically, upon graduation, all Mills Pond Elementary students transitioned to Nesaquake Middle School, along with students from Saint James Elementary and Dogwood Elementary schools. However, with the close of Nesconset Elementary School, Smithtown Central School District has decided to redistrict all students attending Mills Pond Elementary to Great Hollow Middle School in Nesconset, south of Route 347, effective September 2015.
This decision was made without apparent research or recommendations from "an administrative transition team" that was recommended by the Citizen's Advisory Committee's (January 2012) report to "study middle school moving up patterns" to determine new enrollment boundaries.
As a result of this unilateral decision, approximately 30 students per year who live in southeast Saint James, will attend Great Hollow Middle School in Nesconset, a school of greater than 1000 students.
The parents of these redistricted southeast Saint James students have not been given a choice as has been afforded the parents of students in Saint James Elementary as they prepare for redistricting. As a result, this small group of southeast Saint James students will be separated from students in their home community of Saint James until high school - 9th grade - not middle school as was originally expected. Nesaquake Middle School is not at capacity and has the room to accept these approx. 30 students per year.
Besides the obvious separation from school peers in their community until high school, there are other consequences for this small group of children:
* Interscholastic athletics begin in 7th grade. These students will be deprived the opportunity to begin school team sports with children from their home community.
* Religion classes and Scout troops are arranged according to school boundary lines, which will result in this small group of Saint James children being assigned to predominantly Nesconset groups.
* Performing groups such as band, orchestra, cheer and kickline will perform at Nesconset events whereas Nesaquake groups will perform at Saint James events.
While we understand that Smithtown School District has a responsibility to balance numbers in schools and foster school communities, we also feel very strongly that the District has a responsibility to support parent and student connections with their home communities as well. Keeping, on average, 30 students per year separated from students in their home community of Saint James until high school is not a responsible decision.
We parents also recognize that, by sending this small group of students to Nesaquake each year, the graduating classes of Mills Pond Elementary will be split between middle schools; however, we would like to point out that the split will only occur during middle school and that these students will be reunited with their Nesconset friends 3 years later in Smithtown High School East, which we feel is a positive outcome for all of the children involved. Please keep all of Saint James students together in Nesaquake Middle School. If you support this petition, please sign and share it with others in our community who would like to support our children as well. Thank you.