Parents of York City students are wary of a proposal to move middle-schoolers into buildings with some of the district's youngest pupils.
Bullying and crowded classrooms appear to be the main fears about closing Hannah Penn and Edgar Fahs Smith middle schools and converting the six elementary schools from PreK through fourth grade to PreK through eighth.
Those are valid concerns administrators will have to address if the community is to support the recently announced proposal.
An April 17 public hearing on the subject hopefully will put minds at ease.
After all, the district has some experience mixing older students with younger, more vulnerable children.
Bullying was a concern in 2010, as well, when the district moved fifth-graders from the elementary schools to the middle schools.
Administrators addressed the issue by operating a "schools within schools" for the younger students, with the older students mostly kept in different areas of the buildings to prevent bullying.
A similar set-up is planned if the new configuration is approved.
As for overcrowding, school board president Margie Orr has said the schools have space that isn't being used.
Administrators will have to convince parents and the community they have a plan and enough unused space to keep the age groups separate while ensuring acceptable class sizes.
If that's the case, the district would be irresponsible not to seriously consider the reconfiguration.
It's facing a staggering $19 million deficit, brought on in part because of an exodus of students to the five charter schools in the district. The board is considering a 17 percent hike, but that would only close the gap to $14.5 million.
Last year the district laid off more than 140 staff members to help fill a $25 million hole in the 2011-12 budget.
At the time, then-board president Samuel Beard said the district was "going to go back to basic education, with a teacher in a classroom."
If those measures led to "basic education," we have to wonder what another round of cuts would leave.
What's less than basic?
Before such drastic steps are taken again, the district has to be sure it's making the best use of its resources. It appears that's not the case, if it has unused space in its buildings.
It's unclear how much savings would be seen under the reconfiguration proposal, but in 2010 the administration estimated closing Phineas Davis Elementary School would save the district $300,000 year.
That plan, by the way, was scuttled after a public outcry from parents who complained the district was only concerned about money.
Instead, both McKinley and Davis elementaries were renovated for about $7 million.
It was a bad decision then and even worse in hindsight.
Let's hope all sides approach this proposal with cooler heads.