Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The City High addition can’t explain the Hoover closure

Tonight’s board meeting includes a discussion of the plans for City High and how the Hoover land will be used after the closure.

This is a good moment to point out that there is a difference between the City High addition—which is mainly about classroom space—and athletics improvements. Some closure proponents would like you to think that Hoover needs to close so City can have more classrooms, but in fact the addition cannot explain the closure. Here’s why.

First, everyone agrees that the addition will not be built on the Hoover land.

At most, the addition might displace something (parking, tennis courts) that would then have to be relocated. But the addition will not displace much. The first phase of the addition is being built on top of the building and will displace nothing. The second phase includes six classrooms and cafeteria and library expansions. Six classrooms, plus accompanying corridors, takes up about .2 acres. Suppose the cafeteria and library expansions take another .2. That’s less than half an acre displaced.

Hoover’s property is 5.7 acres. Displacing four-tenths of an acre does not explain taking 5.7 acres and tearing down an elementary school. If the district really needed to take 7% of Hoover’s land for City, it could do that without closing the school.

So what will happen to other 93% of Hoover’s land? The most likely uses are an expansion (not just displacement) of City’s parking lot (at a time when its enrollment will be significantly decreasing because of the new high school) or a baseball field or stadium so the baseball team doesn’t have to keep playing at Mercer Park (oh the horror!) or both.

Parking and baseball, not classrooms. Is that a good enough reason to close and tear down a three-hundred-kid neighborhood elementary school?

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