SURVEY: PATRONS FAVOR CLOSING RIVERIA

January 10, 2002 12:00 am
DAYS NUMBERED? Patronsof La Grande School Districtfavor closing Riveria Elementary School and improving three other schools over building a new school. (Observer file photo).
DAYS NUMBERED? Patronsof La Grande School Districtfavor closing Riveria Elementary School and improving three other schools over building a new school. (Observer file photo).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Should Riveria Elementary School be shut down to reduce the La Grande School Districts operating costs?

Most school district residents believe that the oldest school building in town should be closed. This is one of the findings of a December phone survey of 450 of the districts registered voters. The survey asked voters what they believed should be done to address the school districts facility issues.

The results were presented to the La Grande School Board Wednesday.

One question asked people if they would approve closing Riveria to reduce operating costs. They were told that Riverias students and staff would be absorbed into the school districts remaining four elementary schools. This would save the district about $400,000 a year. The repairs and upgrades needed for other schools would be funded with sources available on an annual basis.

Sixty-six percent of those surveyed said they would support this proposal. Riveria, built in 1912, is La Grandes oldest public school building. The mortar in the schools bricks is not sound and its heating system is inefficient.

Another of the surveys questions asked voters if they would support a $6.5 million bond levy to build a new elementary school with a capacity of 400 students. The school would replace Island City, Riveria and Willow elementary schools, which are three of the most expensive for the school district to maintain.

Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said that they opposed this.

The surveys results also indicated that district voters would:

Approve a $14 million bond levy for electrical, mechanical, plumbing and roofing work at all of the school districts classroom buildings. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they would support a a bond levy of that size for the work.

Fifty-seven percent would approve an additional $10 million bond levy for ceiling, door and window replacements at all of the school districts classroom buildings.

Oppose a plan to close Riveria and Willow elementary schools after enlarging Island City Elementary to absorb additional students and staff. A bond levy of $3.3 million would have to be passed for the work at Island City to be accomplished.

Fifty-two percent said they would oppose this; 37 percent said they would approve it.

Oppose closing Riveria and Willow and enlarging the La Grande Middle School. The middle school would be enlarged so that it could absorb all of the school districts sixth grade students. A $1.9 million bond levy would have to be passed to provide the funding for this proposal.

Fifty-five percent said they would oppose this.

Gary Howland, the school districts plant operations director, noted that there seems to be some strong feelings against moving sixth-graders to the middle school. He noted 12 people told surveyors that they did not want sixth-graders moved to the middle school.

This comment was made after people were asked if they had any opinions they wanted to share regarding facility improvements. The 12 comments opposing moving sixth-graders to the middle school was far and away the most received on any subject.

The survey was conducted by Facility Planners of Caldwell, Idaho. The 450 people the firm questioned represent about 5 percent of the school districts 9,182 registered voters. A total of 216 men and 234 women were questioned.

Only 24 percent of those questioned had children attending

La Grande School District schools.

The survey was conducted for the school districts citizens facilities committee. The panel is determining what should be done to address the school districts classroom building maintenance issue.

The committee has examined the condition of the districts buildings and the cost of upgrading them and will make a recommendation to the school board at its Feb. 13 meeting.