Repurposing Leighton Doesn’t Make Sense

The superintendent of the Oswego City School District, Mr. Bill Crist, has emphasized several times that the relocation committee charged with the task of finding the most ideal location for the education center unanimously recommended Leighton Elementary School as the choice. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. Leighton is a beautiful building. The layout and location are convenient, and it is one of the newer buildings in the district. As such, it has no air quality issues and is not currently in need of any repairs, nor are there any repairs looming in the foreseeable future.

However, it is imperative that the unanimous finding of this committee is not misinterpreted. The relocation committee was formed for the purpose of finding ideal office space in existing facilities. This committee was not formed to look at redistricting elementary students, nor to determine the most ideal restructuring of the district due to declining enrollment. Mr. Crist appears to want the Board of Education Members, as well as the community, to believe these issues are one and the same.

Mr. Crist has also stated several times that one of the budget priorities is to use the mission statement to guide decisions. The mission statement of the Oswego City School District is to empower each student to reach their full potential in the best possible engaging learning environment. It seems to me that removing elementary students from Leighton to “repurpose” it for education center offices is in direct opposition to the mission statement.
Due to financial difficulties and declining enrollment, it may very well be time to redistrict, or even to consider closing an elementary building.

However, Mr. Crist’s proposal is based on a report to find ideal office space – not the best configuration for the students. Do we really want to put our administration in the “most ideal” building, while we send our children to the buildings that didn’t make the cut? I sincerely hope not. “Repurposing” Leighton just doesn’t make sense.

Bonnie Eastman