On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, the Board of Education voted to approve the elementary restructuring plan and to close Viola Elementary School for the 2024-25 school year.
Restructuring Plan Overview
During the Suffern Central School District Board of Education meeting held on October 3, 2023, the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Erik Gundersen, presented a recommendation regarding the restructuring of elementary schools, to be implemented for the 2024-25 school year.
According to Gundersen’s recommendation, beginning in the 2024-25 school year, Suffern Central will operate four elementary schools, repurpose one school and transition to a modified Princeton (or grade banding) model for its remaining schools. Viola Elementary School will no longer serve as a K-5 school. However, Suffern Central School District will continue to maintain ownership of the building and its facilities. Rockland BOCES has expressed an interest in renting the building for its growing programs.
The four existing K-5 will be reorganized as follows:
- Sloatsburg Elementary School and RP Connor Elementary School will become our primary grade schools for PreK - 2nd grades. The district PreK program will be housed at RP Connor and the YMCA PreK program will remain at Sloatsburg.
- Montebello Elementary School and Cherry Lane Elementary School will serve as our intermediate grade schools (3rd - 5th grades).
- Sloatsburg and Montebello will be paired together. RP Connor and Cherry Lane will be paired together. Students attending the primary school in the pairing will move to the intermediate school of the same pairing.
- Students currently zoned for Viola Elementary School will be split geographically between the above two pairings. Families in the Viola catchment zone will be provided with information on their new zoned schools.
The district administrative team has invested a great deal of time evaluating our school system, enrollment trends and the educational opportunities provided to students. There are inefficiencies in operating five community elementary schools, three of which each have under 300 enrolled students. This change will benefit all Suffern students by providing similar programs, class sizes, extracurricular opportunities, social networks and supportive services, regardless of where they live. As our public school enrollment continues to decline, it is the District's goal to provide a rich, educational environment in an efficient, cost-effective way.
The Princeton Model of grade banding schools is an opportunity to provide our educational offerings in a more focused manner and has been implemented successfully across neighboring school districts in New York and New Jersey. We recognize that change of any nature can be difficult, and after the board votes on the proposed plan, the District will provide more specific information on how this transition will be implemented.
The October 3 presentation and more detailed information on the proposal can be found on these pages (links to right and left). The Board of Education will hold a public hearing and vote on the proposed plan on Tuesday, October 24.