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Community, parents respond to possible closure of Arlington's Trafton School

ARLINGTON — The Trafton community has been called to action.

How it will respond to the Arlington School District's announcement that Trafton School could close by this summer was the focus of a special parent teacher club meeting on Monday, March 17.

"Without a shadow of inclination I believe that we will keep this school open and I want that same commitment from you guys," club President Kelly Roundy told a group of about 25 parents and community members. "We've weathered this storm before and come out on top."

The School Board voted unanimously during a March 8 meeting for the Arlington School District to undergo a 90-day review to see whether closing Trafton would be a viable option.

Closing Trafton would help save the district approximately $273,000 in operating costs and about $1 million in construction costs required to renovate the building, according to a report prepared by district staff.

The district is looking at having to make an expected $2.5 million in budget cuts for next school year.

During the club meeting, Roundy explained the circumstances to a room of concerned parents, who gathered in Trafton's first-grade classroom.

"My understanding is that they had to start this 90-day process in order to have the option to close it," Roundy said. "Do they have to close it? No. I feel that we are an option in their back pocket."

"The district is still waiting to hear about the state budget, but we're not going to wait."

Leading the discussion, Roundy first made meeting attendees brainstorm two questions about the closure and write down two ideas to help keep the Trafton open.

Questions raised by meeting attendees included how far they would be willing to go to raise funds, how the decision to review Trafton came about and how the 60-page district report on the school was conducted.

"There's no analysis in here of what affect it's going to have on the children," said Wayne Oliver, who has a first-grader at the school. "I must have missed it."

Roundy said a group of parents have already volunteered to go through the report line-by-line with specific objections and present them to the Board.

"It's very demeaning," Oliver added.

Attendee Mike Ray, who has a kindergarten student at Trafton, said he wanted to know whether this decision was strictly about the budget.

"Would money fix this problem or is there some other agenda here?" Ray said.

Roundy handed out a list of 12 items that concerned residents and parents could do to help save Trafton. That list included writing letters to School Board members, local, state and federal representatives, attending Board meetings and building a Web site.

"We need the School Board to see our shining faces at their meetings," Roundy said.

Other suggestions by meeting attendees included creating a list of parents who would commit to taking their children out of the district if Trafton is closed, mobilizing volunteers and "creating a ruckus," as one attendee stated.

"There are a lot of things that we need to do within the next 90 days," Roundy said.

The district will hold a public hearing on Trafton at 6 p.m. on May 24. The site of the hearing has not been determined.

Arlington School District spokeswoman Misti Gilman said that officials are also planning at least two public tours of Trafton.

A list of district and community budget meetings is available by calling 360-618-6207.

The School Board could make a decision on whether the close the school as early as June 14.

A list of district and community budget meetings can be found here.

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