Editorial

Think about it

Friday, September 1, 2017

We wish the Cherokee School Board and Administrators well as they explore options and costs associated with the possible sale and replacement of the Roosevelt Elementary School building.

The District had proposed a significant expenditure for RES this past year, including a new HVAC system and roofing over the Kindergarten wing at a cost approaching $1 million. Additional upgrades and improvements also were identified for the RES building, adding to the costs.

However, those proposed projects were scuttled, or at least put on hold, after the Cherokee Regional Medical Center offered $4 million for the RES property. The landlocked Cherokee hospital seeks additional land for future expansion of facilities and services, specifics not yet revealed.

We caution the School Board and Administrators to tread softly into the wind as they study the possibilities, including building a new elementary school at an estimated cost of $15-$20 million, according to Superintendent Kim Lingenfelter.

With dwindling enrollments the norm for all rural school districts, a suggested plan that makes economic sense and would benefit the District’s ongoing budget woes would be an addition onto the Cherokee Middle School in lieu of a free-standing, costlier facility.

This plan would relocate the RES K-4 grades into the new CMS wing, with the junior high grades 7-8 moved to the Washington High building previously built to house more than 700 students and cuurently housing an estimated 375.

The CMS would then become a K-6 elementary school, WHS would be a true “Secondary Education” facility of grades 7-12, plus the District would have costs for maintenance and upkeep for just two facilities instead of the current three, and could eliminate one principal that now totals approximately $90,000 per year.

The savings to taxpayers would be significant, and a more minimal bond issue would be much more palatable to voters.

We agree wholeheartedly with such a plan. Such creative thinking should be embraced and explored to the fullest before any official action takes place.