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March 21, 2013
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Roseburg School Board puts levy on May ballot; Rose and Melrose on short list of schools that could be closed

Rose and Melrose elementary schools remain on the chopping block, and a five-year, $6 million levy will be on the May ballot, the Roseburg School Board decided Wednesday.

The board eliminated Fir Grove and Green as candidates for closure next school year.

Board members reasoned that transferring Fir Grove’s special education students would be too difficult and closing the well-attended Green would disrupt the lives of too many students.

The district, which has seen enrollment decline, anticipates saving about $425,000 a year by closing one of the district’s nine elementary schools.

If the May 21 levy passes, it would raise money for curriculum, technology and maintenance and possibly save a school from closing, though the board has offered no guarantee.

The levy would cost taxpayers an estimated 37 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $55.50 a year on a $150,000 house.

The board picked Rose and Melrose after nearly two hours of discussion. The board talked about the logistics of closing a school, whether to wait until after the election and whether increased state funding would make closing a school unnecessary.

Board members Joe Garcia and Rodney Cotton opposed narrowing down the choices for closure.

“I think the only option is to put our full support behind a bond levy,” Garcia said. “We don’t have to plan on closing one school, and closing one school does not solve our economic problems.”

The remaining board members said they couldn’t continue pushing off deciding which school to close.

“We can’t keep stringing people along,” board member Paul Meyer said. “We’ve got to make a decision.”

Superintendent Larry Parsons said he preferred the board decide soon so that students, parents and teachers have time to adjust.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the families to postpone the decision,” he said.

Meyer and board members Stacy Stiefel, Charles Lee and Steve Patterson recommended narrowing the closure list to Rose and Melrose. Daniel Endicott chose Green and Rose.

Garcia and Cotton did not share their top two closure options.

Garcia said he didn’t make a recommendation because he was encouraged by community support for the levy and the prospect of more state funding.

A group called FIRMGROUND for Kids emerged a week ago and said it would campaign for a levy. FIRMGROUND stands for Fir Grove, Rose, Melrose, Green; Opportunities Utilizing New Directions.

State lawmakers are considering a budget that would boost education funding by 15 percent.

“Things move and they change and the picture has changed,” Garcia said. “We know as of right now, the Legislature has more money. We can pass this bond.”

Cotton said he wanted a clearer idea of how a levy might affect those plans before agreeing to shorten the school closure list.

“I’m really flustered with how this is going,” he said. “I’m concerned we don’t have a plan after we name one school.”

• You can reach reporter Inka Bajandas at 541-957-4202 or email at ibajandas@nrtoday.com.


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The News-Review Updated Mar 21, 2013 12:38PM Published Mar 22, 2013 08:03PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.