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Mount Vernon Schools Set For Radical Transformation

This graphic shows how over or underutilized the many Mount Vernon schools are.
This graphic shows how over or underutilized the many Mount Vernon schools are. Photo Credit: Contributed

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Although she will ride off into the sunset to retirement at the conclusion of the school year, Mount Vernon interim Superintendent Judith Johnson has laid out a multi-year restructuring plan to help the district accommodate fluctuating enrollment numbers.

According to a feasibility study by Albany-based Educorps, the district’s enrollment has decreased nearly 20 percent over the past 15 years. However, according to projections from Western Suffolk BOCES, elementary school enrolment is due to swell in the coming years, while enrollment the high and middle schools are expected to continue decreasing.

To accommodate this reality, the district plans to slowly implement a kindergarten through eighth grade model with the hopes of improving the educational experience for all students.

The first phase of implementation will involve four of the district’s 16 schools. Both Pennington and Graham Elementary will introduce the new model individually, while Longfellow Elementary and Middle School will be a “paired school model.”

Ninth grade students will return to the high school, and which they attend will be determined by a lottery later this month.

Johnson said that when completed, the new model will help with the distribution of resources, improve the curriculum across grade levels and would create a stronger sense of community within the district.

“Success will be achieved with district leadership and resource support, engagement of parents and the broader community and effective implementation of a rigorous curriculum,” she said. “Our planning teams will apply lessons learned from previous attempts and will identify a successful implementation and transition.”

With so many schools – 11 elementary, two middle and three high schools – the new model would produce many advantages. Students and families starting kindergarten would be together for nine years, and the opportunity for corporate sponsorships or partnerships would arise.

Educorps cautions that this is a sizable venture that will take years, and more than one superintendent to complete.

“This is a major undertaking by the district,” they concluded in their study. “It is not an overnight, or, for that matter, even a single year operation in detailing and implementing this change. There are many ‘moving’ parts that need to be addressed in order to be successful with this endeavor.

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