Although district enrollment is dropping, the redevelopment of the closed Rockingham Park racetrack could increase the number of students, board members said.
"Even if the Haigh building closes as an elementary school, what is the right thing to do with that building?" Morgan asked. "We have to be really wise with what we do with Haigh School because it may have to reopen as a school in the future."
Board members agreed some renovations to Haigh should be done even if the school is closed in the next several years.
The board decided against redistricting the elementary schools. Board member Michael Carney Jr. said Salem should no longer have a half-dozen K-5, or "neighborhood" schools.
Instead, he supported splitting the grades, creating K-3 schools and sending the older elementary school students to facilities of their own. "I think that would give us the most flexibility," he said. It would also be better for students to group them by age, Carney said.
But the other board members agreed that plan would be too disruptive to the district.
Closing a school and redistricting could have a serious impact on Salem, Chairwoman Pamela Berry said.
"We are going to be dealing with a lot of angst, hurt and heartache with parents in this community," she said. "I think we need to realize this isn't going to be easy."
Berry said the board needs to narrow its options and hold a public forum to receive input from residents.