The Astoria School District holds a public meeting at 6 tonight at Gray School to discuss its money-making plan to house preschoolers, Head-Start students and 30 to 50 alternative education students from throughout the county there.
To facilitate this, they plan to turn the tennis courts into a second parking lot in this residential neighborhood and extend the hours until 10 p.m. I believe that with this plan, the ASD has let its need for revenue supersede its mission to base decisions on "what is best for kids."
I have not been able to find any authority who can say that planning to place 30 to 50 of the county's most troubled and unsuccessful 16- to18-year-old students together in a building that will house preschool and Head Start programs is a good idea. And the fact that the school is in the middle of a residential neighborhood makes it even more problematic. Surely these students would fit in better at Astoria High School, Clatsop Community College or Tongue Point.
With enrollment dropping and teachers being laid off, it seems like there is room for these students at AHS. A year ago, there was an alternative program and a teen parenting program housed there.
The ASD's decision to invite all the Clatsop County high schools to send students here complicates things further. All districts are struggling for money, so other high schools would be sending us students that were not worth $6,000 in state funding to keep and teach themselves.
We regularly take in students who have been expelled from Knappa, Seaside and Warrenton. As a teacher, these students have been some of my favorites. But I can also tell you that some are dangerous. The picture of Patrick Harned storming out of a vice principal's office, threatening to kill him, and actually killing a 7-year-old girl, is hard to forget.
Please come help voice any concerns about the ASD proceeding with a flawed plan for these students that has failed to take into consideration the impact it would have on all of the neighbors who live by Gray School.