(KMTR) -- In a meeting Wednesday night, the Roseburg School Board voted to close an elementary school for the upcoming school year. The district has been struggling to make ends meet for years and the
vote count reflects what a tough decision this was for school board members.
The board had previously talked about a local option levy to help raise funds, but after recently taking that off the table, the district says a school closure is necessary.
It's been estimated that closing one elementary school will save the district up to $426,000, money that could go toward much-needed new materials.
"We need to stay current on curriculum, so that is an area the board is extremely concerned about. As is technology that we've not been able to replace," says Assistant Superintendent David Hanson. "And then there's the maintenance issues that we still need to work on. We have preventive maintenance that we normally do; we're doing the best we can to keep up with that right now, but with reduced funds, it's very difficult."
This closure comes after four consecutive years of big cuts for the district between 2008 and 2012, which included laying off 55 teachers. Hanson says for the upcoming closure, they're going to avoid layoffs as much as possible.
The district hasn't decided which of its nine elementary schools will close next year, however. Over the past year, Superintendent Larry Parsons has said that if a school closure did in fact become a reality, the board would discuss all elementary schools as possible candidates. A committee was formed a little over a year ago to try to determine which school would be the most economical for the district to shut down, but there's still a lot to discuss.
"There's been a lot of ground work done already, but there are some decisions yet to be made about which school it is. So the board will be scheduling some works sessions and a community forum to get some feedback from parents . . . and also get feedback from staff on which school we might close and why," Hanson says.
Two schools the committee pegged for closure are Green Elementary and Rose Elementary. They're two of the oldest schools in the district and Hanson says the poor condition of the buildings put them at the top of the list.
Hanson says the district plans to hold community forums within the next three weeks and he encourages the community to share their thoughts. Where the forums will be held is still being decided.