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Long Beach Parents: Don’t Shake Up Our Schools

LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In Long Beach, homes and lives are still being rebuilt in the wake of superstorm Sandy. But now children in the Long Island community may have to weather another kind of storm.

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, parents are concerned about a proposal to close one elementary school or redistribute children at four elementary schools.

Long Beach is facing the same economic stress as many other districts on Long Island — gradually declining enrollment, budget constraints and a state tax cap.

But Laura Kluberdanz, a mother of two, said after homes were gutted, kids in Long Beach need stability.

“This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” she said.

Sandy not only flooded homes, but also the schools administration building and West Elementary School. For months, East Elementary hosted displaced students, with 50 kids per classroom.

Parents fear that repurposing East Elementary, one of four options, would be another blow, with 360 children being relocated.

“You take that school out of the community, and there’s nothing there,” said Leah Enfield Turbek, a mother. “It is a black hole.”

“They’ve gone through a tremendous ordeal, and a lot of people are just now getting back on their feet,” added father Peter Turbek.

The district’s facilities review began even before Sandy struck. The storm didn’t create the financial landscape, but it made difficult choices even harder

School officials insist nothing has been decided yet, adding a decision will be made within weeks. They said they understand the need for stability in children’s lives, but financial stability is essential, too.

“What we want to be able to do is make sure … students have the same opportunity five years from now that our students have today,” said Long Beach Public Schools Superintendent David Weiss.

District officials say they could also vote for no changes.

The Long Beach School Board will meet Tuesday night, followed by a public forum next week.

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