Closing Hoover Elementary will delay other needed projects in the district’s long-term plan, and may prevent some of them from happening at all, for two reasons.
First, it’s very expensive. If you tear down over three hundred seats of capacity while enrollment is growing, you have to rebuild them elsewhere. At the same time the district is planning to tear down Hoover, it’s planning to spend over fifteen million dollars to add roughly the same number of seats to Mann and Longfellow. If Hoover stays open, that’s fifteen million dollars that could go toward other projects, improving other schools. (Granted, some of it may have to go toward improving Hoover – but at most a third of it, and many of those improvements are supposed to occur even if Hoover eventually closes.)
Keep in mind that the district does not have enough money to do all the projects in its plan. It would have to get voter approval for about $100 million in bonds to do them all. Moreover, school boards come and go, and plans can change. Any project that gets put off may never happen at all.
Second, by tying the Mann and Longfellow improvements (such as air conditioning and multi-purpose rooms) to large capacity additions, the plan almost guarantees that those schools will have to wait much longer for the improvements. This is partly because the price tag is so much higher; the district can afford only so many big-ticket items, and can’t do all of them at once. But it’s also because the capacity additions can’t happen until there is a place to put the kids during the year that it takes to do the renovations. We’re already overcrowded, so there won’t be any place to put those kids until a lot more additional capacity is up and running elsewhere.
Without the capacity additions, Mann and Longfellow could have their air conditioning relatively soon. With them, they’ll have to wait for years, and they’ll have to wonder if the money and political support will still be there when their turn arrives – all so they can make their school populations dramatically larger, which is not something I’ve heard any families from those schools clamoring for. And other schools may have to wait longer for improvements, too, because the Hoover closure will be crowding out the funding.
Prioritizing the projects in the plan is going to be a hard, controversial process. Closing Hoover just makes it that much harder.