Some students, parents, teachers and staff at Irving College School are upset their school may be closed in the coming years.
Director of Schools Bobby Cox recently informed members of the county’s Education Committee closing the school could be in the school system’s long-range strategic plan. However, Cox wants the public to know the possibility of closing the school is far-reaching.
“In our long-range plans for 2014-2016, the long-range goal says a new school at Irving College is in the study phase,” said Cox. “All we have done as a board is look at discussion of needing a new gym at Irving College and estimate the cost of the new gym versus what we would see as a replacement building which would eliminate overcrowding at some schools.
“The building at Irving College is older and the gymnasium is smaller and older than some other elementary schools in the county. We have looked at studying only the impact of building new versus keeping the building at the present site,” Cox continued. “Before any discussion about closing the school or moving the school is done, feasibility studies would have to be done. The School Board would have to agree, the community would be engaged in the conversation and the County Commission would have to approve building a new building at a new location or at the current location.”
Cox continued, “Where we are right now is there are no immediate plans to close Irving College School. We are only in the study phase at the present time. Study phase only.”
Cox said during the Education Committee meeting the possible new school may be moved closer to the city limits of McMinnville and will also accept students who are now zoned for Bobby Ray Elementary.
Bobby Ray Elementary currently has 615 students whereas Irving College has the least enrollment at 229 students.
It is precisely that small enrollment number which makes pro Irving College people wanting to keep their beloved school open. Students at the school decorated the fence outside the school with cups spelling out “SAVE I.C.” on Monday.
School Board member Tanya Bess said, “I don’t think I need to say anything about the possibility of a new school yet. We have not had any formal meetings on the subject. I think we should refer all questions to our director of schools. But, I will say that I had a child to go there. She loved it there and she got a good education there. It is a good school.”
When questioned by the Standard about his feelings on the possibility of Irving College students being moved to a newer school closer to town, Irving College principal Mike Mansfield said, “I want to stay impartial at this point. I will reserve judgment until more information is provided.”