About 50 Ellensburg community members gathered Thursday in Lincoln Elementary School at an Ellensburg School Board meeting to discuss building new in lieu of remodeling Mount Stuart Elementary.

The $59.5 million bond that was passed on Nov. 6 design plans originally called for the remodel of Lincoln and Mount Stuart elementary schools and the construction of a new grade school.

Nine community members, primarily parents and teachers, addressed School Board members with concerns.

A teacher at Mount Stuart said they have fond memories of Mount Stuart, but the school has served its purpose, and wants a facility that will best serve its students and staff. He went on to say he has no attachment to the building, that it’s the people who work inside it who make Mount Stuart what it is.

One community member brought up frustration that they thought there wasn’t enough time to process the new information and had wished the school board had been more sensitive in that area of planning.

A Mount Stuart parent expressed a concern about the round robin tactic stating if it was possible to avoid shuffling students from one free space to the other, she’d like to see that happen and believed building a new Mount Stuart would elevate some of that disruption.

Despite concerns, the overall community response was positive towards the idea of building a new Mount Stuart.

“I think it’s great,” said Jonathan Leonard, school board member. “I think that the fact that we have the community from Mount Stuart closely represented here is good.”

Leonard went on to say that the school board wants to hear from all community members, but especially the Mount Stuart community.

“That’s who we wanted to hear from about how they feel about the two construction options. They’re right, this is a scary thing to go through. We presented one idea and we really want to make it clear that what we’re trying to do is be fiscally responsible. So that’s why we’re here, again, changing the plan to make taxpayers money go farther,” Leonard said.

Leonard went on to say although Mount Stuart is an old school, it doesn’t have the rich cultural significance that a school like Lincoln has. Leonard believes because of that fact, building new in lieu might be a real possibility.

“If we talked about Lincoln, we would have a different conversation,” Leonard said. “Lincoln is more of a historic feeling building. People care about the building and they have an attachment to the building. We know because at one point we proposed a plan to build new in lieu of Lincoln, as somebody suggested, and we got a lot of people come and make comments to the opposite of that. So, we’re just trying to balance, being fiscally responsible with what the community wants, and what’s best for students.”

Moving forward, the school board will meet again on March 13 to further discuss construction plans.

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