According to the latest school board agenda packet, the administration is recommending that the district delay the renovation and expansion of Twain Elementary that was supposed to begin this summer, because the bids came in much higher than expected.
It’s not a good sign when the very first project in the Facilities Master Plan has to be delayed and re-bid, “with possible revisions in the scope,” because it’s too expensive.
At some point, won’t it make sense to reconsider tearing down existing capacity while building new capacity elsewhere? I’m all in favor of Twain getting renovations, air conditioning, and a gym or multi-purpose room, but what is the urgency about adding new classrooms? Under the most recent redistricting proposal, both Twain and the new South elementary school will be only two-thirds full. Even if the district wants to leave some extra space to try a magnet school at Twain, the capacity is there in the short-term, and the addition can wait. But instead, the Twain project includes not only renovations but an addition—and then it turns out to be so expensive that the whole thing may be delayed.
Just wait until we see the actual price tag for the Mann and Longfellow additions, which are much bigger than the Twain addition. Both of those schools could have gotten air conditioning, renovations, and multi-purpose rooms sooner if the projects hadn’t been accompanied by huge, expensive additions—none of which would be necessary if Hoover were kept open. Now those schools will have to wait much longer—all the while wondering whether the projects will ever happen as planned, or whether they too will end up facing “possible revisions in the scope.”
We don’t need to tear down 300 seats of capacity at Hoover. We don’t need to build 330 seats of new capacity onto Longfellow and Mann. We don’t need to rush into adding capacity to Twain. What those buildings need is air conditioning, renovations, and multi-purpose rooms. The district’s drive to shift toward fewer, larger elementaries, farther away from where people live, is what’s delaying and endangering the construction that we actually need.