Updated 06/21/2012 08:47 PM
Elmwood Elementary School dismisses for good
It really was the last day of school for one Syracuse elementary school. District officials made the decision to close Elmwood Elementary to help make up a daunting budget deficit. Our Kat De Maria was there for the final dismissal.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's a bright spot and a fixture on South Avenue. But after 120 years, Thursday is the last time passers-by would see students outside of Syracuse's Elmwood Elementary School.
"I'm just sad because my oldest child went here too, she attended here too. I was here for the first computer class," said Alicia Stanfield, who has third and fourth grade children at Elmwood Elementary.
Many Elmwood families have rich multi-generational memories, including the guard who crossed Stanfield and her kids one final time. Elmwood was in danger of closing at the end of last year to make room for other schools under construction.
"When we survived that battle, we became nervous again in January when we learned the severity of the budget deficit," said Principal Margaret Wilson.
Unfortunately for Elmwood, there was more: District officials said the school was underperforming. It would be the one to close.
"I wish there was more we could do. But we have to move on," Stanfield said.
Next year the students from Elmwood Elementary will go to schools in their neighborhoods, including a few on the Southside. The teachers will continue to work for the Syracuse City School District, but many aren't sure exactly where just yet.
"We don't know which kids we may be able to reconnect with and which staff members we're going to be able to team with again," said teacher Greg Bickett, who started at Elmwood as a volunteer in 1997.
That made for extra hugs good bye at dismissal time. Wilson is moving her boxes right into the district office. She's new to the school, compared with the rest of the faculty, some of whom have spent their entire careers there.
"The kids, we have become very attached to them and to the families. Elmwood is a very dedicated group of teachers," said Susan Phillips-Coe, who got her first job at the school in 1982.
The teachers will have new challenges. And the students will have continued access to all of the Syracuse City School District's resources, including Say Yes to Education programs. But they say wherever they go, they say their heart belongs to Elmwood.
"It sure does," Phillips-Coe said.
Syracuse school officials say closing Elmwood Elementary will save them some $3 million next year.