Dave Wallace: School closure — the November scenario
With the local election now behind us, I urge the community to look closely at the information concerning the closure of one of our elementary schools. Let me refer to a Craig Press article of Oct. 12, in which I previously commented, ‘Public schools are a major economic influence, and a school closure should be considered only as the ‘last resort.’”
Has (Moffat County School District Superintendent) Dave Ulrich and the school district been placing the “last resort option” first? Where are the cost saving scenarios that do not include a school closure? The most recent scenario is the only one currently under consideration that does not focus on closing an elementary school, at least not entirely.
This most recent scenario suggests vacating the student body from one school, only to repopulate the facility with the displaced occupants from the administration building. The displaced students will be divided and relocated within the remaining three elementary schools. Though this scenario is not necessarily a school closure, it is very close and will result in a major disruption to the community. This latest scenario continues to generate a number of concerns, some of which are listed below.
- What, exactly, is the cost of relocating the staff and students?
- Can the remaining schools absorb the additional load while maintaining compliance with health and safety standards, or will modifications be required?
- How, exactly, will the placement of students be determined? Will siblings be divided among schools?
- Will a school closure increase the districts transportation costs?
- Does the district anticipate a loss of students to private education after the relocation?
- Parents who choose to provide their child’s transportation to non-neighborhood schools will see an increase in cost. Has this cost been estimated?
The community has been informed of the anticipated savings, but what about the cost of implementing one of these scenarios? The school district’s savings will be directly related to the closure of the administration building, along with a significant operational savings through the reduction of staff, as stated by Ulrich. A Craig Press article on Oct. 19 stated the reductions in personnel would be less than what is lost annually through attrition.
It is obvious the school district’s goal is to reduce costs through personnel reduction while consolidating elementary students into fewer classrooms.
Now, let us think logically about this. If, in fact, the district is considering keeping all four elementary schools open, why would we relocate the students at all? Is it not possible to restructure the staff and class size in each of the four elementary schools and achieve the desired results? Would this, in itself, not provide the space necessary to accommodate the displaced occupants from the administration building? Moving the entire student body out of one elementary school only to reoccupy it with the displaced personnel from the administration building makes little sense. The restructuring of each elementary school, while retaining its student body, would allow siblings and their classmates to remain in their respective neighborhood schools, property values would not necessarily be affected and the impact on the community would be minimal.
The Northwest Colorado unit of the Colorado Schools and Public Employees Retirement Association will be holding a meeting at the Moffat County School District Board Room at 7 p.m. May 22.