Closing school would maim community |

Closing school would maim community

In this case, the many swords thrust at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, focusing on the potential closure of the Grand Lake Elementary School, will be both swifter and more deft than this pen.

A mayor, a kindergarten teacher, a minister, a violin instructor, numerous parents, a town manager, school secretary, educational advocacy organizer, many involved Fraser/Winter Park citizens and several Grand Lake Board of Trustee members all said essentially the same thing in many different styles: Grand Lake has been dealt a hand of duplicity and doom and deception from the top down by the School Administration and some members, not all, of the board. In other words, we have been duped by those whom we should hold in esteem.

Lest we forget, it was several months ago that forward-thinking citizens and generous organizations raised and dedicated $500,000 in good faith to buy time to study the best solutions to reduce the school deficit, and to maintain and even evaluate our education in ALL of our communities in a sustainable way. We held our end of the deal. And now mysteriously the deficit has been reduced from over one million to a little over $300,000 to Tuesday night’s call that it could be as low as $115,000.

Not good enough, the administration claims, Grand Lake Elementary is again on the chopping block. Our innovative citizenry wants and deserves more than just rudimentary bottom-line thinking and fluctuating deficit numbers from our educational “leaders.” Since we have enough pessimism and myopic thinking in the world, we don’t need more from our elected officials and persons at the helm. Instead we want and need creative thinking and vision and partnerships in problem solving. What a concept. Perhaps a concept that has not been adequately voiced also come to fruition last night.

The people sitting in our row at the meeting had no current elementary school children enrolled, and our mean age was probably in the 70s. Why were we there at the meeting? Simple. We have a vested and deep interest in our community of Grand Lake. We have helped purchase the fire trucks, built the board walks, ensured that our school is 100 percent paid for and even handed out the scholarships and gifts of dictionaries to our local school children.

We did not move to Grand Lake to live in a non-snowbird retirement paradise part-time. Who could rationalize coming to any area where the schools fate is yanked around monthly?

The estimated 49 children from Grand Lake can certainly be bused to another facility 30 minutes down the pike. But in doing so, the community of Grand Lake has been gifted a death knell from those who supposedly care.

As a clearly exasperated and articulate member of the audience said in better words than I can reproduce: “It’s 10:38 and we’re all here at this meeting quibbling over a shortage of only $130,000 or $105,000 – the numbers keep changing and we can’t overcome this hurdle? Why?”

Closing a school which in turn closes a community is not only irresponsible but it is also beyond comprehension. Give us a chance, that’s all we ask and we can help move mountains.

Avis Gray

Grand Lake