FAIRVIEW TWP. — About a hundred parents of Crestwood students gathered at King’s restaurant Wednesday night to discuss their concerns about proposed teacher layoffs and district spending they consider frivolous.
Raymond Joseph, of Citizens for the Preservation of Quality Public Schools, told parents: “District funds are limited. Education and safety should be our priority.”
Kim Spath, Rice Township, parent of two students at Rice Elementary, agreed.
“There’s a lot of money that could be spent on improving the safety and infrastructure of district buildings,” she said. “They should fix a roof before they build a field house.”
The controversial field house is expected to cost $1.6 million, and some at the meeting described it as a “glorified locker room.” But district officials have defended the expense even at a time when money is tight.
Spath also commented on the district’s possible “banding” of its two elementary schools, so that one building would house kindergarten through third grade and the other fourth through sixth.
“They haven’t even done any kind of feasibility study on restructuring the schools,” she said. “It might save money, but we don’t know that it will.”
She also expressed concerns about the possible elimination of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes.
Kelly Ross-van Den Berg, who serves as president of Fairview Elementary’s PTA, was worried about how the potential upheaval could impact students.
“My daughter is in seventh grade. She wants to be an astronaut. She’s always wanted to be an astronaut,” she said. “I’m afraid when she goes to apply to the college she needs to apply to, she won’t get in.”
Ross-van Den Berg deemed the projected field house “an ancillary building,” unnecessary for quality education.
“We need to spend our money on existing structures,” she said.
Joseph said the field house — financed as part of a 20-year bond — will put an unnecessary burden on taxpayers for the long term.
“In 20 years, we’ll have parents saying, ‘We need money to fix the field house,’ and the original debt won’t even have been paid off.”
Joseph encouraged those gathered to attend Thursday night’s school board meeting so their elected leaders know what they want.
“They are our representatives. We supported some of them,” he said. “I believe that some of them are with us on these issues.”