MARGATE - The mayor and schools superintendent stressed Tuesday there is no plan to close the Eugene A. Tighe Middle School.

"There's absolutely no truth to that," Mayor Mike Becker said, adding any discussion of facilities and enrollment was part of long-term planning.

In a letter released Tuesday, Superintendent Theresa DeFranco said the district must submit a five-year facilities plan by February, as do all districts.

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The Board of Education announced at its May 8 meeting that "should our school population significantly decline beyond present trends, then consolidation of facilities could be an option," DeFranco said. "Please be advised, however, that at absolutely no time was a plan ever set forth to close a school."

DeFranco and Becker said based on current enrollment trends, there was no imminent danger of closing.

While enrollment has dropped almost every year for 20 years, including a decrease from 604 students in 2008-09 to 473 in 2012-13, "the enrollment is stabilizing in the lower grades," Becker said.

The number of first-grade students has been between 52 and 47 students every year since 2008-09. There were 48 fourth-graders this past year who will enter the grade-5-through-8 Tighe School in the fall.

"There's at least four more years until those kids get out of school," Becker said, adding a recent study recommended consolidation if a district was near an enrollment of 320. "And we're nowhere near that."

Defranco also stated before any school closing, the cost of renovating both the Tighe and the William H. Ross schools would have to be determined "and then discussed in great detail with considerable public input."

The last school closing was of the Union Avenue School in 2010. The school remained empty for more than two years before it was transitioned into the new city hall following Hurricane Sandy.

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The next Margate Board of Education meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Ross School.

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