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New Plum school board dumps Center Elementary expansion plans

Michael DiVittorio
| Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, 4:00 p.m.
Center Elementary in Plum School District, Tuesday, July 25.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Center Elementary in Plum School District, Tuesday, July 25.

Four new Plum school board members helped to quash a plan approved last month to add six classrooms to Center Elementary.

Three board members who were against the plan when it was approved were joined by the newcomers Tuesday in a 7-2 vote to rescind the action.

Voting to rescind the plan were board President Steve Schlauch, Vice President Vicky Roessler, Sue Caldwell and newly sworn-in members Scott Kolar, Angela Anderson, Brian Wisniewski and Scott Coulson. Richard Zucco and Jim Rogers dissented.

Zucco and Rogers voted for the expansion that was approved 6-3 in November. But among those board members who supported the project, three did not seek re-election and one was defeated in the November election. New board members were sworn-in at a Dec. 5 meeting.

"It's a real travesty," Zucco said. "I've said these things for years about trying to get something done here. I think a lot of the public understands it's just not going to happen, because we have people who just don't want to move forward on something for one reason of another."

One of the reasons for dumping the expansion plan is that enrollment projections the district based its decision to add classrooms on are too high and that the renovations won't be necessary, Schlauch said.

"If we can consolidate and redistrict without any additional building, and close old Holiday Park, we can save $1 million in the 2018-19 budget," Schlauch said. "Financially, and for the best interest of the school district, it makes sense to rescind it."

The Center expansion was part of an overall consolidation plan that would reduce the number of elementary schools from four to three and disperse those students equally to each building through redistricting. The plan would have closed the old Holiday Park building, where 250 Regency Elementary students have been housed for two years since that school was razed.

Little discussion about the plan was made during the meeting after the motion to rescind the expansion project was added to the agenda.

"I would like to look over the proposal again and make sure we're doing things properly and not wasting more money," Coulson said after the meeting.

Resident Tracy Riggins, who has a child attending Regency Elementary, said she was concerned a decision that took the previous board two years to make was being overturned so quickly.

"Is seven days really enough time to make an informed decision on what to do with our current funding situation?" she said.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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