Parents want decision closing Kingsbury to be reconsidered
Kingsbury Middle School parents are stumping to get Douglas County School Board trustees to reconsider their decision to close the school in June 2008.
A forum to discuss the issue is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday at George Whittell High School. Three school board members and Superintendent Carol Lark are expected to attend.
Parent Greg Felton is spearheading the re-evaluation of the Douglas County School District trustees’ decision to close Kingsbury Middle School and keep Zephyr Cove Elementary open. He said the Parents’ Club and Booster Club surveyed parents and found 95 percent of the people wanted the consolidation to take place at the middle school instead.
The consolidation discussion started in 2005, but in June 2006, the board voted 7-0 to close the middle school instead of the elementary school.
Superintendent Carol Lark and three board members are expected to attend the forum. Board President John Louritt said only three members can attend because of the open-meeting law.
Lark could not be reached for comment.
One of the issues reigniting the debate is the high radon levels discovered at the elementary school, Felton said.
According to the Nov. 3 tests done by Fallon Heating and Air Conditioning, five rooms in Zephyr Cove Elementary School were above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action level of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). A picocurie is a measure of radiation.
The tests were taken after air filters were installed to lower radon levels.
To show that the parents are unified, everyone attending the meeting is encouraged to wear red. Felton said he feels the board has not listened to the parents in this decision.
Cynthia Trigg, clerk for the Douglas County School District Board of Trustees, said she hasn’t ignored the parents.
“I did not ignore them in the past, and I won’t ignore them in the future,” she said.
She said she’s looking forward to the meeting so everyone can explain themselves and have an informative discussion.
Trigg said only two issues would move her to put the item back on the agenda. One is if the radon levels could not be lowered, and the second would be if the high school’s new gymnasium was removed from the capital improvement budget.
The school was built in 1959, and no improvements have been made to the gym since.
She said that because radon levels are in a safe range, and the gym remains on the budget, she is comfortable with her decision.
Tracy Owen-Chapman is a parent of three children – one at the middle school, and two at the elementary school. She said the board needs to prove to her why the elementary school is the best decision.
“Looking at the two schools from a physical standpoint, the obvious choice is KMS,” she said.
Built in 1962, Zephyr Cove Elementary requires an estimated $1 million in structural improvements, and Kingsbury Middle School requires an estimated $460,00 in improvements, according to an analysis by the district’s Business Services Department. The middle school was built in 1976.
Initially, the setup for the elementary school will cost more than that for the middle school, Trigg said. But because of the proximity of Zephyr Cove Elementary to the high school, it would be easier for the two schools to share resources.
Owen-Chapman’s main priority is for her children to receive the maximum education value out of this decision.
She said parents should attend the forum to gain information from all angles of the issue.