The Long Beach Board of Education voted last week to keep East School open, after a proposal to reconfigure the district’s schools spurred two months of heated discussion and criticism from parents.
All five trustees voted not to close the elementary school. However, three voted not to make any changes to the district’s structure, while two voted for the administration to explore the option of creating an early-childhood learning center at the Lido School.
“Change is uncomfortable,” said Trustee Roy Lester. “But if we want improvements, it’s necessary.”
The vote stemmed from a presentation made by the district’s Facilities Study Group in November. The group was tasked with finding the most efficient use of the district’s eight buildings in light of declining enrollment and anticipated financial shortfalls. The group presented 11 options to the public, which were later whittled down to five by administrators. Two scenarios involved converting East School to administrative offices and the adult learning center, two called for a reconfiguration of the district’s elementary schools and one called for keeping things as is, with pre-K at Lido School and all four elementary schools — Lido, East, West and Lindell — hosting kindergarten through fifth grades.
Trustees Stewart Mininsky, Darlene Tangney and Dennis Ryan voted for the status quo. “Leave East school as is,” said Mininsky, “and let’s put this issue, and the angst of the community, to rest.”
Tangney said that she enjoyed having all of her kids in one school — Lindell — at the same time, and that she believed that a second-grade transition to a different building, which would be part of the early-childhood learning-center scenario — would be too difficult, because children have already formed strong bonds with friends. She also said that the current structure is beneficial for teachers, making it easier for them to compare notes with their students’ previous teachers because they are all in the same building.
“This is not the time for our community to be divided,” Tangney said. “We’ve come too far for that.”