Sound Off: Why close Clover Valley?

Remind me again Dr. Schulte, members of the Oak Harbor School Board, students and taxpayers, why are we closing Clover Valley? I know we have all agreed it must be done, it has to be done, it must be done right away, but remind me again, why?

Is it because Clover Valley is deteriorating? No, we just remodeled it and spent additional money on a new roof.

Is the building too small? No, it has the largest, nicest classrooms in the district.

Could it be the fancy new phone system that only CVE and the administration building have? No, I am afraid not.

Could it be the teachers and classified staff? Are they not qualified? Do they not do as well as people elsewhere in the district? Again, I am afraid the answer is no. The teachers and classified staff at Clover Valley are on average better qualified and more experienced than at any other school in the district.

Could it be low scores? The beloved WASL scores not quite high enough because of the airplane noise? No again! Clover Valley has had greater gains on test scores than any other elementary in the last five years and has better scores in several areas than any other elementary in the district.

Well, it must be because of low enrollment. Sure, this is partly true. Enrollment in Oak Harbor has been declining. However, next year classes will be at or close to their maximum, students will be in portables, and there will be fewer spaces for small groups to meet for extra help.

While your child may be in a portable with no bathroom, drinking water, or sink, and with questionable air quality, Clover Valley will sit heated and not fully staffed.

So, finally we come to money. The budget shortfall is not as great as was first forecast. It never is. While I admire Dr. Schulte’s fiscal abilities and sense of responsibility, I cannot help but feel that the mission of the Oak Harbor School District is not to make, use, or save money. The mission is for students to learn, and to achieve their greatest potential.

Students will not do this in overcrowded classrooms. They will not be helped by the dozen extremely qualified assistants at Clover Valley being put into low level jobs. The assistants at Clover Valley and throughout the district are a great resource. Many have 20 years of experience and training in teaching reading, math, and remedial skills. These jobs are not costing the district much at all, yet they are going away. Why are we relocating very successful teaching assistants to bus duty, kitchen duty, and playground duty?

So remind me before I send my daughter to school here in two years, why did we close Clover Valley? Why did we take a reading assistant and put her in the kitchen? Why did we take a teacher with an MFA in art and have her teach English? Why will we have an empty building while children spend their days in portables? Is it because these measures help students learn? I doubt it.

Claire O’Connell teaches art at Clover Valley.