Principal says closing building is better than cutting the curriculum

RANGELY — Parkview Elementary Principal Mary Lansing said the district is considering closing the building, not the school.
“It’s just that, it’s a building,” Lansing said at last week’s public meeting, where school district officials discussed possible cost-cutting options, including the closing of the grade school. “I would like to think that Parkview, wherever it’s housed, is a philosophy and a practice, and it would continue wherever it is.
“I would like to urge the board … to keep the budget cuts as far away as possible from the actual instruction in the classroom,” Lansing said.
One plan being considered to save the district money is to consolidate kindergarten through sixth grades at the middle school, and merge seventh through 12th grades at the high school.
Principal Nicole Walker, who is leaving the district at the end of the school year, assured parents of seventh- and eighth-graders the high school was a safe environment.
“I want the community to know this is a safe school,” said Walker, who is in her first year as principal at Rangely High School. “There have been a lot of changes, from last year to this year, and I hope after I leave, that continues.
“We’ve had a huge change in discipline,” Walker said. “(It used to be), there were kids roaming the halls. You can come here anytime, and you won’t see my students in the hallway. These kids had no structure (before), and they have that now. There are consequences for bad behavior.”
Walker credited her staff with facilitating the transformation of the school’s environment.
“I’ve got a great staff,” Walker said. “We’re visible. We supervise the kids. And bringing the middle school here will only add staff to the building.”
Walker said consolidating seventh through 12th grades in the same building can work.
“We’ve already put plans in place on how we will keep the kids separate,” Walker said. “But there’s no way to keep them 100 percent from not being exposed to the older kids. They would still run as two separate entities (middle school and high school), but they would be housed in one building. There’s nothing wrong with it (consolidation). If it’s managed effectively at the administrative level, you’ll be fine.”
Walker defended the high school students against those who claim they would be a bad influence on younger students.
“They are incredible kids,” she said. “They’re not perfect, but they are not the terrors people say they are.
“Parents at the middle school drop their kids off at the high school all the time for after-school activities,” Walker said. “They (middle school students) come here for community activities, and they are exposed to high school kids. This is a great school, and the kids have followed the lead (of the staff).”