September 13, 2008 in Voices

EV bond may get 3rd vote

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Bus routes under scrutiny

 During the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, concerns were raised with some of the new bus routes.

 The district is in the midst of a three-year plan to eliminate bus stops within one mile of schools. “We didn’t reduce routes,” said Superintendent John Glenewinkel. “We consolidated some stops.”

 Some of the new stops are on or near busy streets, however. “I’m not convinced we’re not going to change some stops back,” he said. “Children are having to cross Evergreen. That’s just not acceptable.”

 Parent April Henderson also spoke against the new stops, even though she knows the changes were made to try to save money on fuel. “That money really isn’t a concern when it comes to our kids,” she said.

The East Valley School District bond that failed twice this year may come back again next year, after board members heard from parents and staff that the proposed work still needs to be done.

A special board meeting was held Wednesday night at East Valley High School to discuss the $33 million bond, which would have modernized Otis Orchards Elementary, Mountain View Middle School and East Valley Middle School, as well as security and technology at each elementary school. The meeting drew dozens of teachers, principals and district employees, plus a handful of parents.

“What didn’t we do that we should have?” asked board member Mitch Jensen to start the discussion.

East Valley High School Principal Jeff Miller said the district needs to get away from just putting up signs and hanging flyers on doorknobs. He suggested trying billboards and phoning parents with an automatic phone dialer. “I think we should look at marketing strategies some other districts are using,” he said.

Parent Christie Burton-Hart, who is the president of the PTA at Otis Orchards Elementary, said the district has had no credibility with parents, and there has been a lack of trust. “I think having a new superintendent will have a huge impact,” he said.

District employee Paul Boshear agreed. “We just went through an ugly time,” he said. “Get the trust of the workers back again. It’s going to take a little time to gain trust.”

Several ideas surfaced during the meeting, including getting staff more involved in the effort and letting the public know more details about how the critical maintenance needs are impacting the district. “Two hundred thousand dollars is about what we spend to keep broken things running,” said Superintendent John Glenewinkel. The district pays about the same amount because of energy inefficiencies in boilers and windows, he said.

“We’re dipping into our education money to pay for maintenance,” Miller said.

There was also a suggestion to add a roof-replacement project for the high school to the bond. The roof leaks during heavy rains, much like the roof at East Valley Middle School. During the large rainstorm about a week before school started, EVMS principal Mark Purvine said he spent half the day running around with large garbage cans “catching a torrent of rain coming down through light fixtures.”

“I think the general public doesn’t know how bad it is,” said parent and Skyview Elementary PTA president Maria Edelen.

There was no argument voiced that the bond should not run again. “What I’m hearing is that we move forward,” Jensen said.

The district plans to host more meetings to allow the community to express an opinion on the bond in the next few weeks. “We need input,” Glenewinkel said.

Nina Culver can be reached at 927-2159 or via e-mail at ninac@spokesman.com.


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