Our View: Closing an elementary school makes sense | CraigDailyPress.com

Our View: Closing an elementary school makes sense

It's no secret that school district is facing hefty budget issues.

To absorb losses and increase revenue, Moffat County School District's board of education and superintendent are looking at closing one of Craig's four elementary schools in the next 16 to 18 months.

Editorial board

Noelle Leavitt Riley — newspaper representative

Andy Bockelman — newspaper representative

Terry Carwile — community representative

Dan Davidson — community representative

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The savings could ring in at as much as $700,000, depending on a variety of circumstances, said MCSD Superintendent David Ulrich.

To be clear, the district has not chosen which school will close and will rely on a third party that doesn't have nostalgic ties to the schools to help determine which building is the best to close.

It's never easy to hear that a school might close, but Ulrich made several interesting points at last Wednesday's Coffee and a Newspaper that focused on the topic.

He highlighted the following:

• About 20 to 25 years ago, the school district had roughly 25 percent more students than it has now.

• The district currently has 2,200 students as of last October's head count.

• Students and teachers would have to be redistributed throughout the district.

• The district would save up to $700,000 a year, especially in staffing.

• Teachers would not be let go, but instead would leave through attrition.

We'd like to remind readers that each year dozens of teachers leave. In the 2014-15 school year, 40 teachers left the district — most of those positions were rehired. For the 2015-16 school year, 26 teachers left and then had to be rehired. Thus, we certainly believe Ulrich when he says teachers would be cut through attrition and not be laid off.

Additionally, we can't turn a blind eye to the hundreds of thousands of dollars the district would save each year if one of the four elementary schools closed.

Rarely do communities our size have four elementary schools. Tough business decisions have to be made. The district needs about $17 million to repair or replace buildings, fixtures, busses and other infrastructure, and initially the district looked at changing to a four-day week, as reported by the Craig Daily Press.

Ulrich pointed out also that a portion of the money saved would go back into curriculum and literacy, which will help students' test scores and ability to learn.

If children are at the forefront of this decision — meaning kids and teachers will receive more educational resources — then we support closing an elementary school.

The savings also would be reinvested in the three remaining schools that desperately need repairs and renovations.

Another important factor is that Ulrich and the school board are trying to find ways to save the district money without putting a mil levy on the ballot, which ultimately would cost taxpayers money.

Year after year, taxpayers are asked to support this and that in our community. We say, good for the school district to find other ways to save.

Longtime Moffat County resident Bert Clements was at Coffee and a Newspaper on Wednesday, and after the meeting he said he's tired of footing the bill through his property taxes for every entity that struggles in Craig.

We certainly understand that each elementary school has special meaning to residents, as they might have attended one of the schools, or perhaps their children have attended or currently attend one of the four elementary schools.

But we can't do the same things over and over and expect things to change. If the school board and Ulrich want to save money, reinvest in education and fix three of the four crumbling schools, they have our support.

One last thing: Ulrich said they would not demolish whichever school ends up closing. Instead it could be used as a Senior Social Center home or a place for local nonprofits. We like that idea.

Editorial board

Noelle Leavitt Riley — newspaper representative

Andy Bockelman — newspaper representative

Terry Carwile — community representative

Dan Davidson — community representative