Rangely board votes to close Parkview

RANGELY – Parkview Elementary School’s days are numbered.
Monday night, Rangely School Board members unanimously voted to close the building and move grade-school classes to the middle school.
Now, the question is: What to do with the 30-year-old elementary school building.
“My recommendation to the board was that we start reaching out to other governmental agencies and see if there’s a community group out there that can get some use out of the building,” said Superintendent Dwayne Newman. “Even if we get a minimal amount (for the building), we don’t have to pay to demolish the building, or pay to maintain it. If we can’t do a transfer, the district will probably look at a demolition.”
Newman said the estimated cost of demolishing the building would be in the $200,000 to $250,000 range.
“But that would be offset by what they could salvage out of the building,” Newman noted.
The school board did not spend a lot of time Monday talking about the pros and cons of closing Parkview. Board members had been studying the issue for a while, and an informational meeting was held March 10, soliciting public input.
“There was not that much discussion about whether we needed to close the building,” Newman said. “We did have some discussion about the configuration at the middle school. Are we going to do a preschool through 6 at the primary school and 7 through 12 at the secondary school, or are we going to do preschool through 5 at the primary school and 6 through 12 at the secondary school. We want to get input from staff and the community on that.”
The school district had surveyed the community about the possibility of closing Parkview, which was proposed as a way to save money and help the district deal with its financial challenges.
“We had 147 responses to the survey, and 75 percent were in favor of closing Parkview,” Newman said. “I think everybody understood why, and the board did a good job of getting out to the community about where we’re at financially. People understood the situation we’re in. We can either close the building, or start looking at cutting staff and programs. It was a very simple call.”
Local businessman Rodger Polley, who was a student in the Rangely school system, was among those who opposed the closing of Parkview.
“It’s sad to see us go to a two-building system,” said Polley, who started attending Parkview in the third grade, when the school opened. “Parkview is on its last legs as far as being an effective school building. So it’s probably time to get rid of it. But I would have liked to have seen them pursue other options. As school funding continues to get strangled over time, I think the school system will get smaller and less effective. But hopefully the community will come together on something in the future to make it a school system that we’re used to having.”
The district is looking at a budget deficit of $500,000 to $700,000. Newman said the district would save an estimated $430,000 by closing Parkview.
“If we close the building, we’ll save about $210,000 a year on utilities, janitorial and maintenance,” Newman said. “Then we’ll go to a structure of a superintendent and two building-level administrators. One over what will be the primary school and one over the secondary school. So we’ll save about $80,000 in administrative salaries and benefits.”
Newman and Nicole Walker, Rangely High School principal, have resigned and will leave the district at the end of June. The district is in the process of advertising for both positions. Newman divided his time between his superintendent duties (80 percent) and serving as middle school principal (20 percent). Amy Ward is assistant principal at the middle school. Mary Lansing serves as principal at Parkview Elementary.
“Basically, Parkview is moving (to the middle school building), and it’s my understanding that Mary will be the principal there,” Newman said. “We’re also going to have a secretary and a custodian retiring, so we probably won’t fill those positions, because we’ll have less space. And we’re looking for some additional savings through the renovation at the middle school and high school.”
The renovations at the district’s other two buildings will be funded by a $15 million bond project approved by local voters last November.