Supporters of the Hoover closure have argued that “City High needs the land.”
“For what?” people asked.
And asked, and asked, and kept asking, even two years after the closure vote.
Several Hoover parents at the listening post last month said that they could support the closure if they thought the benefit to City High justified it. But what was the benefit?
So at last night’s board meeting, one of the items on the agenda was how the Hoover land would be used after the closure. Here was the opportunity for the board to finally answer the question—“for what?”—and maybe even win some Hoover people over. So the district was ready with a persuasive response, right? Wrong.
The only way to answer the question, the administration said, would be to create the schematic design of what will go on the Hoover property, and to do that would cost as much as $484,000. And to do it before the bond vote, the money would have to come out of another source—probably the playground rejuvenation funds! So do people really want to know that badly?
When board member Tuyet Baruah asked why the board decided to close the school without knowing what it needed the property for, the administrators and her fellow board members fumbled for an answer. The other high schools have lots of land, board member Marla Swesey said. There was “the feeling of needing the space,” the district’s Chief Operating Officer said. No specifics.
Call me crazy, but I don’t think you have to spend $484,000 to identify the needs that led you to close an elementary school and take its 5.7 acres for another use. If all you can do is cite projects that add up to less than half an acre, then you haven’t explained why you need to close the school—whether you pay for a schematic design of it or not.
You’ve got to feel for the administration and board. If they don’t answer the question, people will be upset. But if they do answer it, people will also be upset—because the answer is so lame. What’s a district to do?