At tonight’s school board work session, the superintendent will reveal his proposed time line for projects in the facilities master plan. I’m very curious to see how he balances all the competing goals, and especially to see how he handles the planned closure of Hoover Elementary.
Under the master plan, Hoover can’t close before 2017-18. But it’s hard to see how it could close even that soon. The district has projected that the east side will be about 600 kids overcrowded by 2017-18 unless new capacity is built. If Hoover were to close that year, that number would rise to about 900. If Longfellow or Mann is out of operation for a year (as planned) due to renovations, that number would rise to about 1150. Will the district really have 900 or 1150 new elementary seats up and running – on the east side alone – within four years? If not, closing Hoover would only worsen the overcrowding problem.
And of course there are many other projects in the plan competing for priority in the time line. Some of the most immediate need for new capacity is in the North Corridor, to alleviate existing overcrowding at Penn. The plan also contains improvements (air conditioning!) at existing schools, and improvements and new capacity at the junior high and high school levels, including a new high school. Unless we’re about to enter into an unprecedented frenzy of construction and renovation, it’s hard to see how the district could have 900 or 1150 new elementary seats on the east side within four years. And why should it, when Hoover is available and can house at least three hundred students?
But, from this school district, one expects the unexpected. We’ll see . . .