Saturday, April 28, 2012
Last Days of Roosevelt
A big date is coming up on our family calendar: May 30 is 6th grade graduation at Roosevelt elementary. We're excited that Hayden is making the big move to Northwest Junior High next year. Ethan has a big switch next year, too: his first year at school on his own, without big brother.
And it'll be a different school. As locals know, this is the last school year for Roosevelt Elementary. So Hayden is a small piece of Roosevelt history as a member of the very last 6th grade class.
It may have been a pragmatic decision for the school board, closing down an 81 year old school that was too expensive to upgrade, and building a nice new school on the west edge of the district for the rich kids.
But it's a tough blow for our working class Miller-Orchard neighborhood. We're home to about three dozen elementary age kids, just about a bus load. Quite a few of our families don't even have cars -- every time I drop the boys off at school I see cabs.
Koni and I considered moving because of the school closing, despite our love for this neighborhood and our immense back yard, one of the best kept secrets in town. We stayed but we're still trying to figure out how to juggle work schedules to get Ethan to school next year.
We're considered "too close" to our new elementary school, Horn, for a bus ride. And if you just measure the straight line distance, it's not far at 1.2 miles. The school district and bus company have determined that two miles is the bus radius.
But the trek takes a youngster up a very steep hill, past 11 huge blocks of apartments with busy driveways and occasional crime scene tape, along the busiest street on the west side. There's a sidewalk gap at the Benton Hill park. Estimates are it's a 25 minute walk each way for a grade schooler, in good weather.
The district does have some leeway "if hazardous conditions exist on the route." The most relevant ones relate to traffic: "number of lanes, speed limits and traffic volumes and patterns." Worth noting: with Roosevelt School going away, the school zone speed limit signs on the Benton Street hill go away, too.
The neighborhood is organizing. I saw two teams of doorknockers the other night, working my block and heading over to Douglass, the ovular loop between our house and Highway 1. They're urging neighbors and other concerned folks to contact the district; consider this my open letter. You took our school away, can't you at least help get our kids to the new one?