School Board set to make final decision at Dec. 12 meeting
North Clackamas School District Superintendent Matt Utterback has recommended that Concord Elementary School in Oak Grove close at the end of the school year.
In a Nov. 7 letter to community members, he reminded parents that the district continues to face a difficult budgetary future, so Concords loss could result in benefits for the whole district.
The district is continuing to make tough financial decisions today with the hope of lowering class sizes by hiring more teachers and restoring student days to our school year in the near future, Utterback wrote.
Early this year, district staff recommended that the School Board consolidate the five elementary schools in the Rex Putnam High School feeder system by closing Riverside Elementary. After an outpouring of support for Riverside (then proposed for consolidation into Concord and Oak Grove elementary schools), Utterback reversed course in March, instead forming a District Boundary Committee to recommend a school for closure in the Putnam system.
Before Utterbacks reversal, Riverside parents had lobbied School Board members to consider closing Concord to maximize calculated cost effectiveness. The district would like its elementary schools to hold 500 students, but Concord can only hold 448. Riverside can hold 560 students.
Concords building was constructed in 1936, whereas Riversides construction dates to 1955. According to a report for NCSD by Macadam Forbes real-estate services, Concord could be resold at $4.9 million, the most of the five elementary schools under consideration, and Riversides building and property would only be worth $3.9 million.
At an Oct. 24 meeting, the School Board also heard data on maintenance and condition of school buildings, safety and security, which turned out to be the most important factors in Utterbacks thorough consideration. Parents feared that crime and loitering will increase around Concords campus next to a McLoughlin Boulevard Walmart, where a traffic situation has given them grave concerns about student safety getting to school.
The most significant factor in this decision is student and staff safety, which is our top priority, Utterback said.
Concord parents are expected to be out in force to defend their school at the boards next meeting on Nov. 14. They will talk about Concords longstanding educational traditions and its principal who has been working with parents to reinforce safety procedures during pick-up and drop-off times.
If the Board approves the closure recommendation on Dec. 12 as expected, NCSD staff will create a boundary committee. Their redrawn elementary school attendance boundaries for the Putnam feeder system would be presented to the Board for discussion in February and possible action in March.
Moving a school community is painful, emotional and difficult for all parties involved, Utterback said. As challenging as it is, I want to remind everyone that while many of us are members of a single school community, we are also members of a large and comprehensive school district. I know we will pull together as a community and help those affected by this change through this difficult time.
· Board meeting: Thursday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m. Sabin-Schellenberg South Campus, 14450 S.E. Johnson Road, Clackamas.
The recommendation to close Concord Elementary will be presented and deliberated in an open meeting. Citizens may make comments.
· Board hearing: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m., Sabin-Schellenberg South Campus.
This is a public session for the board to hear comments from the community on the recommended closure.
· Board meeting: Thursday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m., Sabin-Schellenberg South Campus.
The board will make a decision on which school will be closed. Citizens may make comments.