School Closure Debate

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Tue, September 18 2012 at 4:25 PM, Updated: Tue, September 18 2012 at 4:44 PM

One of two elementary schools in Klamath Falls will close next year due to a tight budget...and parents from both schools have strong arguments as to why their school should remain open.

Pelican School parent Kristen Leist and her friends have plenty of questions about the proposed closure...

"Once the schools close, what will happen to the facility?  What will be the costs of locking it down?  Are they going to sell the real estate, what's the plan for that?"

Klamath Falls City Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Hillyer says the city school board will decide October 9th whether to close Fairview Elementary School, or Pelican Elementary School.

"Fairview School has about four million dollars in projects that need to be done, probably over the next ten years to keep that building going.  And Pelican has about three million."

Residents of both neighborhoods are concerned that property values will drop if their school closes.

"If it was to close, those students would have to be put on busses to go to other schools."  Notes Fairview School parent Erica Wilson.  "Those schools would then become more overcrowded than they already are."

District officials say that closing a school will save about a quarter of a million dollars...but Kristen Leist isn't so sure.

"Is it really going to be a cost savings?  Because closing the school, relocating the children will incur its own expenses."

The meeting to take public comment on the proposed closure of either Fairview or Pelican schools will take place at 7:PM Wednesday evening in the Lucille O'Neill City Schools Administration building on Avalon.

Fairview and Pelican Elementary are two of the smallest schools in the Klamath Falls City School District.

A little over 300 students attend Fairview School, while about 230 are enrolled at Pelican Elementary.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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