Parents Question Possible Mount Vernon School Expansion

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Parents of Pennington Elementary School students in Mount Vernon are concerned about expanding the school to include grades seven and eight. Photo Credit: Greg Maker

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Parents of Pennington Elementary School students are concerned about possibly adding middle school students to the school but would support it if it were done properly.

The Mount Vernon City School District proposed adding grades seven and eight to the school in an effort to keep more students in the district whose parents seek out private schools when their children are done with elementary school.

Co-president of the Pennington Elementary School PTA, Jennifer Curtis, said at the very least parents at Pennington want the same services for their kids, if not more, if the school were to be expanded.

“We all agree that safety is a big concern,” Curtis said. “If it’s done properly, we will continue to welcome the idea, but we would need a new building to accommodate any change. We already don’t have a proper playground, a full-time nurse and we are lacking in technology.”

Sandra O’Connor, a parent of Pennington students, said some parents in Mount Vernon don’t have a choice but to pay for private school for their children, also citing safety as a major concern. O’Connor said she is skeptical any change to Pennington would help current students.

“We’ve been let down so many times and we never get any help, so it’s hard to believe anything the district would say,” O’Connor said. “We are working-class people who are forced to send our kids to private school. It’s rough beyond the fourth and fifth grade, so it’s really not a choice.”

Parent Stacie Moye said the district would need some sort of capital project to accommodate additional grades in the school, adding that a new building might be the only solution where the district’s proposal of expansion would work.

“To mix kindergartners with seventh- and eighth-graders is just dangerous,” Moye said. “There are all sorts of issues, like bullying. We’re afraid of the short time frame they want to do this in. We want to make sure nothing is rushed if they are going to do this.”

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