I’ve posted before about how expensive it is to tear down a school while enrollment is expanding. If the district closes Hoover, it will have to rebuild its entire capacity somewhere else, spending between ten and fifteen million dollars in the process. I’m not particularly bothered by the candidates who support all of the new construction in the long-term plan, because it’s easy enough to modify those plans if the projected enrollment doesn’t materialize. But once you tear down a school, there’s no looking back.
The new construction that seems most questionable to me is the planned capacity expansions of Mann and Longfellow schools. I’m all in favor of updating those buildings with multi-purpose rooms, air conditioning, and other overdue maintenance. But why add capacity to them? The board’s plan calls for adding 180 seats of capacity onto Mann, and 150 onto Longfellow. This makes the plan over fifteen million dollars more expensive than earlier scenarios that upgraded the schools without adding capacity. That’s over fifteen million dollars to replace capacity that the district already has at Hoover, just a mile or two away.
But even regardless of the expense, why would the district want to add 330 seats to those schools? Mann sits on an especially small lot, has a smaller-than-average playground, and borrows a nearby park for field space. Talk about a “land-locked” school. (Compare Mann’s lot with Hoover’s.) Where will these 180 units of capacity go?
Longfellow has more space, but is reachable only by driving through several narrow, residential streets. How many more cars (and buses?) will come into that neighborhood when there are 150 more seats in the building?
All to get the five acres of land at Hoover for City High, for a use that no one can identify. Why is the district tying itself in knots to close Hoover School?