A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A plan to close Central Elementary School

Written September 14th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The front of Central School, photographed on Tuesday evening.

A surprising development popped up during Monday’s meeting of the Albany School Board: There’s a plan to close Central School as an elementary school and use it for other district programs.

I happened to come across the YouTube video of the board meeting and, with time on my hands, watched for a while. The video is badly made — one stationary camera far away, with some participants hidden by others — and everybody is wearing masks, so it’s hard to tell who’s saying what.

The upshot, though, is this: The Greater Albany Public Schools are getting or have received $15.7 million in federal grants to help deal with the effects of the Covid pandemic. The district administration wants to spend $10.2 million of that on adding eight classrooms to South Shore and six to Takena grade schools.

For several years now, Takena and Central have been paired. Children in kindergarten through second-grade attend Takena, and Central has the third through fifth grades. About 120 children attend each building.

The six rooms to be added to Takena would be enough to house all the children now attending Central.

Board member Roger Nyquist pushed back on the idea, which he said had not been made public before Monday night. He recalled that at a meeting a few years ago on splitting the grades between the two buildings, he and Albany Councilman Dick Olsen were told that move was not a precursor to closing Central. He wondered when the board’s word was no longer good.

Also, Nyquist wants to be sure the federal Covid-related grants are spent first to try to overcome whatever learning loss has been caused by the pandemic, not on capital projects.

But he also said the South Shore addition of eight classrooms was an important step that should move forward separately, preferably from different funds. It’s to replace modular rooms with a design life of 20 years that have been there for 30.

There was no vote. But the discussion will continue. Board members seemed to agree that the first thing should be to have meetings with parents in the Central and Takena areas.

Designed by famed Albany architect Charles Burggraf, Central was built in 1915. It’s been upgraded in recent years to make it more earthquake resistant. In 1980, Olsen single-handledly prevented the school board from closing the school when he produced architectural drawings proving that the building’s floors were anchored to the walls. (hh)

The Albany School Board as it appeared on a video of its Monday meeting.

12 responses to “A plan to close Central Elementary School”

  1. Barbara Casali-Mingus says:

    I sincerely hope someone will take a serious look at the traffic congestion currently around South Shore. When access and egress on Pacific and Bain was blocked to accommodate Costco, traffic patterns were altered. Currently, when parents are dropping off or picking up kids from South Shore, cars are sitting in a line in front and around the corner on N Shore almost to Waverly, as well as on the streets opposit the school. Kids having to open car doors on narrow Bain Street with cars on both sides of the street, and vehicles moving in the street are already risky. Can this area accommodate more students and staff?

  2. Rhea Graham says:

    Again? What is it they have against Central School?
    If there is a need for another administrative building that large, perhaps there are too many administrators?

  3. Jake (JJ) Johnny Johan Hartman says:

    So Nyquist thinks it more practical, economical and educationally sound to split grades, sending some to one building for a couple of years, then sending them to a different building for a couple more?

    Each of Nyquist’s arguments, at least as far as this blog reported them, seem vague, disconnected and unconvincing. “Board member Roger Nyquist pushed back on the idea, (closing Central) which he said had not been made public before Monday night.”

    Precisely. It was made public right in front of Nyquist on Monday night. Are we to believe that any idea being even slightly mulled-over by school boards must be “reported” as soon as said idea pops into the mind? Nyquist’s argument is either being reported incorrectly, or Nyquist really is slow off the mark.

    Another blank space in Nyquist’s thinking comes from the line in the story:
    “Nyquist wants to be sure the federal Covid-related grants are spent first to try to overcome whatever learning loss has been caused by the pandemic, not on capital projects.” Why is consolidation of two expensive operations into a single, less expensive operation not helpful to “overcome whatever learning loss…”
    Again, Nyquist’s pretzel logic fails to shed any real light on this subject. A little bit of heat, but NO light.

    Nyquists’s obstinancy is well known. Unfortunately, none of his arguments make the case he argues. Albany school age kids are in for a long, torturous education if this sort of rubbish is allowed to continue at the Board level.

  4. Laura Butner says:

    This is a terrible idea. Central Elementary needs to remain open as a school. There has been a couple million in upgrades bringing the school up to code for earthquakes handicap access etc. These upgrades were grants and tax dollars set aside for schools. I’m sure they weren’t spent with the intention to shut the school down 10 years+/- later. Not to mention how rapidly our community is growing. I believe it’s in the best interest to keep it open as a school and expand and upgrade the other elementary schools as needed to service our growing community.

  5. Abe Cee says:

    But does Central have vinyl windows? They could also bring in some extra funds by building ADUs on the land adjacent to Central. Think of the convenience of small families living within rock throwing distance of the school!

    Expansion of South Shore would be a piece of cake if partnering with Hope Church to use their parking lot during the week. Make Bain one way heading south from S Shore, put a stop light at Bain and Santiam (which may help the traffic issues at Dutch Bros as well). And I’m sure the kids and teachers would love the Chick-fil-A truck to serve lunch, too.

    • Cheryl P says:

      The problem with Dutch Bros traffic is due to an overall lack of space and inconsiderate drivers; traffic light won’t solve that problem.

  6. Michelle Tatum says:

    This sounds crazy. I just hope they use some of those funds to make sure the schools are cleaned and sanitized daily. I know so many kids that got real sick or headlice from schools not being cleaned . And I would rather see another HS. first.

  7. Fate from Farm State says:

    Quoting from the post – Nyquist pondered the following. “He wondered when the board’s word was no longer good.”

    Good thing I was not eating while reading. Might have lost it all.

    The answer is ….wait for it…. IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE ACTIONS THE NEW BOARD TOO.

    Are you kidding us Nyquist?

  8. Bill Kapaun says:

    How will the energy efficiency compare between Central and the “new” classrooms?


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