KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – A Klamath Falls neighborhood is mourning the loss of their 92-year-old elementary school. Monday night, the Klamath Falls City School District voted to close Fairview Elementary at the end of this year.
Tony Swan is the principal at Fairview Elementary School. On Tuesday, he was talking to each class about district plans to close Fairview at the end of the school year in June. He said students are confused about what the closure could mean for them.
“Our staff will go to different schools. The kids will be well taken care of, the other principals are fantastic; they will welcome these students in. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with me or my secretary, and custodians, because that’s part of the cost-savings are the elimination of those positions,” said Swan.
The decision to close Fairview Elementary certainly did not come suddenly, nor did it come easily. The district has been discussing this idea for several months, but when it finally hit home to the residents of this neighborhood, they just don’t really know how to absorb it.
“I think we’re all in a sense of mourning,” said first grade teacher Shannon Kappas. “We had an idea that it would happen, but when you honestly hear that it’s official, its official! Feels real, and it hurts!”
The Klamath Falls City School District will shift the staff and students to four other elementary schools in the district. District officials will determine which of the other four elementary schools to send Fairview students and teachers next year.
“My dad’s 76 and went to school here. I went to school here. My son had Mr. McDonald, who was principal here. So it, yeah, it’s 3 generations for me,” said Diane Runft, the Fairview assistant cook.
Fairview Elementary was one of two elementary schools under consideration for closure to help close a million dollar funding gap caused by increased demands for “PERS” retirement funding. The district’s goal was to save $200-300,000 a year by closing one school.
“And I think it’s really sad that the board feels the need to close the school over that amount of money a year,” said Erica Wilson, a teacher’s aide.
Dr. Hilyer said an architect hired by the district projects that maintenance costs on the old building could exceed four-and-a-half-million dollars over the next ten years. There are no definite plans for the future of the building at this time.