Volume 105, Number 47 - November 20, 2008
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New school OK’d
The new 600-student elementary school was officially approved for Sublette School District #1 after some reluctance from a few state School Facilities Commission (SFC) members during a packed meeting on Tuesday at the Pinedale Aquatic Center.
“I think it helped our cause that the room was full — I’m not sure we would have had the same outcome if we had been sitting in Casper,” said Vern McAdams, district business manager. “You could tell by the comments that they (the commissioners) took notice of all the people here.”
The Pinedale district was the last to be addressed during the School Facilities Commission meeting. Ken Daraie, SFC director, discussed Pinedale’s student population numbers. He broke the numbers down for the commissioners by school. For the elementary school the total is 570 students, the middle school has 280 and the high school has 350, which totals 1,200 students.
Then the commissioners and district board members debated the amount of square footage the district has. Some commissioners wanted to include the Pinedale Aquatic Center. The frustration regarding this could be heard by the whispers from the audience of school board members, parents and residents from the community.
It was also debated about what do with the current elementary school, either to tear it down or turn it into an additional middle or high school. The decision was not agreed upon regarding this issue.
Then came the topic of approving the new elementary school. Commissioners Ralph Goodson and Jeff Marsh were hesitant about making an immediate decision.
Goodson also cautioned commission members about deciding on a motion too quickly.
“Let’s slow down and take enough time to do it right,” he said.
Commissioner Richard Gilpatrick disagreed and said that they are losing time and the decision regarding the new elementary school needed to be decided during the meeting.
Daraie agreed and said time is running out and the student populations continue to grow. He said students would not have a place to go if the process is delayed any further.
“As it is now, it will be a challenge to get it open,” Daraie said.
Goodson said that he needed more reinsurance about the need for the project.
“Unless you want to come and take over my job, you’re going to have to trust us,” Daraie said to Goodson.
Commissioner Jim McBride mentioned the court lawsuit that is pending and said that any decision the commission makes is not related to it.
“We’ve tried real hard among ourselves to talk about not making that (the lawsuit) a part of this, we want to make sure that you understand that what we are really talking about is equal access and facilities,” McBride said. “Regardless on how we vote I’m OK with either size elementary schools.”
Superintendent Doris Woodbury then pointed out that the reassurance should come from the board members and the community presence in the room.
“If you’re looking for reassurance, your reassurances are sitting around this room,” she said.
Goodson confronted the audience about his hesitation.
“This is not about you, it’s seems like it’s about you, but it’s really not about you,” he said. “The state supreme court has demanded that we provide equal access. The origin of the school facilities commission was about the haves and the have nots.”
Goodson did, however, end up voting in favor of the 600-student elementary school. Marsh was the only commissioner who did not vote in favor of it.
“I’m excited for the new school in Pinedale,” Gilpatrick said. “When it comes to good education it’s not just the facilities but the people who are teaching who make a difference.”
The meeting ended in applause regarding the commission members’ decision.
“It’s a tremendous kickoff to a tremendous project that will affect the education of Pinedale elementary schools for years to come,” district board member Jamison Ziegler said.
The elementary school site is planned for the new BloomField subdivision.
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