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Demolishing Lincoln

Apr 12, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

In light of the new student-teacher ratio rule, the old school might have had one more role to play

There is understandable confusion related to the conflicting notions that Fremont County School District 25 in Riverton must solve its crowding problem in elementary classrooms by squeezing more and more students into one building, while another elementary school which served the district faithfully for 50 years sits empty -- and is about to be demolished.

The demolition order comes from the same state authority that simultaneously has declared that Rendezvous Elementary be configured, remodeled and reconfigured to accommodate more and more students to the point that it has become the largest elementary school in Wyoming.

More remodeling apparently is on the way at Rendezvous, which already has seen locker rooms converted to classroom space and soon will see the longtime school office be remodeled so that more students might be wedged into the building -- all in the name of solving "overcrowding."

No one is claiming that every bit of Lincoln school is still suitable for elementary education, but it is hard to believe that at least some of the space couldn't be used temporarily to educate K-3 students.

Already, school districts around Wyoming have been granted waivers by the state from immediate compliance with the new student-to-teacher classroom ratio, meaning, in other words, that the ratio is not so important after all.

If that is true, then why can't a waiver also be granted allowing elementary education temporarily in the still-serviceable classroom space at Lincoln school? This could permit the state to save considerable money in renovating Rendezvous, considering that the state already has decreed that Riverton will be getting at least one and perhaps two new schools in the future.

Instead, one school will be reworked to more and more strange proportions, while another will be torn down. Neither solves the longer-term problem.

If these actions seem at cross purposes, it's because they are. Coming at a time when the state bemoans its shrinking revenue picture, the forced remodeling of one school and the forced demolition of another would appear, it could be argued, not to be the ideal use of state education funds.

Is irony the word to describe that situation, or is it simply frustration?

Whichever word fits, it seems as if there ought to be a better way. There isn't one, however, at least not now. So, prepare to say goodbye to another Riverton educational landmark -- Lincoln school.

It's headed for the scrapheap and we will be sorry to see it go, particularly if it might still have had one more role to play.

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