Home » Parents try but fail to save Kildonan School

Parents try but fail to save Kildonan School

AMENIA — After meeting last Tuesday, July 16, to consider the proposal submitted by a committee of concerned parents to keep the school open, the Kildonan School Board of Trustees announced with a heavy heart that it would not be able to do so, to the dismay of the committee and other families connected to the school.

When the board originally announced its decision last month to close the school due to low enrollment, a committee of 20 concerned parents formed to see what could be done to keep the school open for the 2019-20 academic year and beyond. Calling for a complete restructuring of the school, committee members identified methods they believed would be effective in attracting new students, reducing school costs, offsetting program costs with additional sources of income and fundraising — all while retaining the Orton-Gillingham-based academic program that the school has used to instruct students with dyslexia since its founder, Diana Hanbury King, first opened the school in Amenia. The action plan was submitted to the board on Friday, June 28, and was succeeded by a corresponding financial plan the following week.

Ready to perform any work needed to prepare the school for the fall, the committee waited anxiously for the board to review its proposal, keeping Kildonan School families in the loop. By the evening of Tuesday, July 16, the committee received the board’s final verdict — though it certainly wasn’t the one it hoped for.

In a letter, vice chair Wilson Anderson Jr. commended the committee for its exemplary efforts to save the school and shared the board’s contentment to partner with the committee through the decision process. However, he said, the board couldn’t sanction the school’s continuation.

“In reviewing your proposed plan, the Kildonan School Board of Trustees has little or no confidence that the enrollment numbers you provide can be met, that the budget is realistic and that it is possible to meet the anticipated deficit as presented in the plan,” Anderson wrote.

Even so, Anderson said the board was aware that there would be families on the lookout for the kind of education offered at Kildonan. As the board wishes to continue its mission, he reported it was contacted by Poughkeepsie Day School in Poughkeepsie and The Marvelwood School in Kent, Conn., both of which expressed an interest in including the Orton-Gillingham teaching method on its campuses. As conversations among the three schools continue, Anderson assured the committee the board will share more details when they became available.

“We wish the outcome could be different,” he said. “We are grateful for the work you have put into this and we applaud your efforts.”

Disappointed by the results, the committee informed other Kildonan School parents of the board’s decision the next morning, Wednesday, July 17. At this time, Craig Cornell, a committee member and father of two children who attended Kildonan School, said there have been various ideas from the committee regarding what should be done next before adding that it’s all speculation at this point.

“We gave it our best shot,” Cornell wrote in an email to Kildonan School parents. “We are sorry that it did not work out.”

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