No decision yet on Sams Valley school

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At a third Central Point School Board meeting set to accommodate those previously blocked by time constraints, Sams Valley  residents packed their school=s gymnasium. Spearheaded by Eagle Point HS and SOU graduate, Lance Weaver, the committee to save Sams Valley School drew more than 100  spectators on March 31.

Interviewed before the meeting=s start, Weaver, area manager for  Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals, praised  SVE faculty members. AWe have highly skilled teachers who understand math and science,@ he said. AI believe Fifth grade teacher, Trey Jenkins, has the science background that could make our  K-12 magnet school concept a reality.@


Superintendent, Randy Gravon, expressed dismay at what he termed the sad state of affairs the present budget presented. AWe just got numbers from State House and Senate Ways and Means,@ he said prior to the meeting=s onset. ARecent ones look better, but we can=t pin too much hope on them yet.@ He added that more discussion  between Administration and the Board was expected  to occur within the next few weeks.


At 6 p.m., Board Chair, Kerry Bradshaw greeted the audience. He started to convey his thanks to the audience for attending, then corrected himself. ANo, we=re in your  school,@ he said. AThank you for having us.@

He then picked up a sign-in sheet on which eighteen Community members had registered their desire to speak. The common thread among all comments included emphasis on what=s in the children=s best interests. Committee to Save SVE member, Cynthia Couch read her prepared remarks from a mini-laptop screen. She suggested that by closing the school, the District would lose more money than it saved. Many more parents would opt to home-instruct their youngsters, resulting in far less State revenue coming in.

A young male student then offered a colorful picture he=d sketched and framed pleading for the building to remain open.

Gravon stepped forward to lift the mic from its stand, handing it to Lisa Parara who spoke from the wheel chair she used. AWe pay more taxes than any other community,@ she said. AI=ll home-school my sixth grader rather than have him get bullied by 7th and 8th graders.@

Chloe Ellis referred to the property=s obsolete sewerage system, dubbed  the Lagoon. AIf you close Sams Valley Elementary, the Lagoon still has to be maintained. It will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to dismantle it.@

Bill Griffith briefly noted that even a closed building would exact payments for power bills.

Drawing a huge round of applause, former District employee, Barbara Couch, asked audience members for a show of handsCall who want Sams Valley Elementary closed? (No hands went up.) All who want it to remain openC(virtually unanimous.)

Two little sisters pleaded for avoiding the long bus rides in which older children might intimidate younger ones.

After all on the list had voiced their views, Bradshaw expressed empathy, observing that the last thing anyone wants to do is close Sams Valley School. The goal of this meeting, however, was to gather information. No answers could be given, and no  promises could be made until more specific budget data became available.

By F. C. Blake

Of the Independent

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