During this plan’s creation, community members emphasized the importance of Keene’s neighborhood elementary schools. Neighborhood schools provide benefits such as walkability, creation of social opportunities and neighborhood networking, and access to community resources. As much as possible, they should remain neighborhood schools. However, as the population of Keene’s young children declines, resulting in lower school enrollments, the community will be faced with a conflict between the advantages of neighborhood schools and the desire to keep school taxes low and use educational resources efficiently.
Should some neighborhood schools become available for adaptive reuse, the community should have a strategy in place to guide the use of these buildings in a way that retains their value and contribution to neighborhood quality of life. Elementary schools in other communities have been repurposed as neighborhood community centers that provide recreational opportunities, some have been used to create new village activity centers and business incubators, and some have been turned into high density, mixed-income housing.