When he made the announcement in early March, Shea said he was planning for the worst and hoping for the best, adding that this was hardest decision he has made as Oneonta superintendent. But, he said closing the school was the only way he knew to maintain programs without increasing taxes an unacceptable amount.
After tense meetings and emotional pleas from parents and community members, the school board decided to put the fate of Center Street before the voters, empowering residents to decide if it was worth saving the school to raise taxes beyond the state-mandated cap amount. In the end, voters decided it wasn’t, deciding to close Center Street by a vote of 1,901 to 726.
The last day of classes at the elementary school was an emotional one for students, teachers and parents, as every student had the opportunity to take part in an activity usually reserved for outgoing sixth-graders — leaving a classroom via a window.
By fall, students in Center City were standing at bus stops instead of walking to school along their normal route. The school building that had been filled with children was now home to a much quieter group, as district officials and administrators moved in to new offices.
Despite reporting an anticipated savings of more than $700,000, Oneonta district officials nevertheless reported that another budget gap was expected for next year, meaning that more difficult decisions could be on the horizon.
Murder-suicide rocks Franklin
A 911 phone call from a Franklin home in November brought first-responders to a shocking and disturbing scene. Longtime area residents Willis Brown and his wife, Wendy, were dead in their home on Main Street. The cause of death was gunshot wounds; an investigation revealed that Willis had shot his wife, then himself. The motivation remains unknown.
The deaths shocked not only the Franklin community, but many others beyond the village, as the couple each had deep ties throughout the region. Wendy Brown was a financial adviser who was involved in a variety of community organizations, including the Franklin Stage Company and the Oneonta Rotary.