Jon Goodhue, a teacher's aid at Fuller Elementary School, reads the Dr. Seuss book "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" to children in Laura Weiss' kindergarten class yesterday. Members of the community came in to read Dr. Seuss books to each class at Fuller in honor of the author's birthday.

Annemarie Wentzell said that over the seven years she has taught at Fuller Elementary School she has seen the sense of community and parental involvement increase each year.

So she wasn't surprised that news of the school's possible closure was received with sadness by the school community, the fifth-grade teacher said yesterday.

For her, Fuller Elementary School is not just a workplace.

"I consider everybody here my family," she said.

For the next fiscal year, the School Committee is looking at a rise of nearly $3.5 million in costs to provide the same services it's providing this year.

Closing Fuller could save the district $1.3 million, officials say, but it would force nearly 450 students to be dispersed to other schools, causing an increase in the student-to-teacher ratio.

It could also force the cut of as many as 22 teachers across the district.

As the School Committee continues to look into whether or not to close Fuller Elementary School, teachers there said they are taking it one day at a time.

"The important thing is to focus on the kids, and everything else will follow," said Mary Ellen Cook, a fifth-grade teacher.

In 34 years of teaching in the district, Cook has seen good and bad times.

Years ago, she was part of staff when Maplewood Elementary School closed. She then came to Fuller Elementary, where in recent years she has also seen the passion of parent involvement.

Cook said there are many teachers and parents who have poured a lot of effort into making the school what it is today.

"The closing of the school will be a loss to this community and the city," she said.

In a letter to the editor of the Times yesterday, Nancy Fernandes and Sybil Militello, the Fuller PTO Executive Board co-presidents, said, "The Fuller School Community understands that things must change, but we are concerned that once again there is a proposal which is a quick fix with no real look ahead."

In the letter, they also questioned whether or not other schools will be able to handle additional students.

"A major concern is that our children will attend a smaller 'neighborhood' school that lacks these resources," they said in the letter.

Fuller Elementary School is one of district's nine buildings and, at 168,826 square feet, is the third largest in the district after the high school and O'Maley Middle School. The building is used by the school and also houses the district's offices and an independent child-care center.

The School Committee announced early this week it plans to meet with individual PTOs in the district and will have a public forum on the issue within the next few weeks.

Fuller Elementary Principal Sue Ellen Hogan is also saddened about the possibility of closing the school, which she has led for nearly four years.

"It's sad to know that we could be dispersed, and we won't be together," she said.

Trending Video

Recommended for you