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Roosevelt proposal still drawing many questions

BY CLARK CAHILL | MARCH 3, 2009 7:20 AM

Around 100 community members flocked to West High on Monday night hoping to get some answers about the fate of Roosevelt Elementary.

A seven-person-panel — which included Superintendent Lane Plugge, School Board President Toni Cilek, Roosevelt Principal Mindy Paulsen, Horn Principal Kristen Cannon, and three community members — answered questions about the proposal to move Roosevelt Elementary, 611 Greenwood Drive, to the Crossings, a residential development near West High.

A common theme in the questions concerned what effect moving Roosevelt would have on Horn Elementary, 600 Koser Ave. Horn’s population would increase from 280 to 400 students if the proposal is put into effect.

“My biggest concern is making the transition for all of the new students to Horn smooth and providing the same services and needs of all other students,” Cannon said, adding she does not foresee any negative effects if the students transferred.

If Horn were to enroll around 120 new students, a $2.3 million addition — including six additional classrooms and a gymnasium — would be added to the school to accommodate the growth, Plugge said.

More students were a concern for Horn parents because of the small, congested nature of the school’s parking lot during pickup and drop-off times.

Plugge said the district will look at a few options, such as adding more parking spots and possibly adding an access point on the west side of the school from Emerald Street.

Another common concern among community members is the timeline for the decision on Roosevelt. Plugge initially said he wanted the board to vote by March 24, which, to many, seemed like a rushed decision.

“When I said that date, I was working backwards from the time that I thought we would open the new building, which would be the 2011-2012 school year,” Plugge said. “In order for that to happen, with selecting an architect, planning construction, and beginning construction, I think we need that much time.”

He doesn’t think the board needs to make a decision by March 24, he said, as long as he can continue figuring out the logistics of a new school.

Leading up to the forum Monday night, many community members had voiced concerns that the School Board was not accepting enough community input about what to do with Roosevelt.

Although the forum’s goal was to receive community feedback, some said they think the board members have already made up their minds.

“The board [members] are saying they are being open with their plan and they want input, but it sounds like their decision has already been made,” said Kari Gibson, a Horn parent.

Despite the controversy over the fate of Roosevelt, staff members are staying positive.

“No matter what the decision is, we will adjust and be supportive of one another,” Paulsen said.

The board will host another public forum on the same topic Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Northwest Junior High theater.


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