Closing Tonalea Elementary School Creates an Opportunity

News release from Scottsdale City Council Candidate Jennifer Petersen:
When Scottsdale voters failed to pass the Scottsdale Unified School District Override elections over the past two years, it created significant challenges for our school district.
Some voters may have voted against the overrides thinking that nothing would really change; however, by voting no or not voting at all, it has caused painful cuts that affect students and teachers. The SUSD board was forced to close Tonalea and move all of its students to the Oak campus.
As a member of SUSD’s governing board from 2004-2012, it saddens me whenever our students are impacted by the harsh realities of today’s economy. However, I believe in the opportunity of adversity. And now, as a candidate for Scottsdale City Council, I recognize the inherent opportunity for SUSD to partner with the City of Scottsdale to repurpose the Tonalea property into a positive community asset.
There is a better solution than simply shuttering and fencing the property and waiting to sell to the highest bidder. We need vision, partnership and cooperation between the district and the City to determine how we might transform this building to improve the quality of life of Scottsdale residents.
The City of Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Unified School District, and members of the private sector (particularly those with experience in commercial and residential redevelopment, economic development, and community facilities) should come together to discuss our best options, brainstorm ideas, and get feedback from the neighborhood and local community.
I can envision a Neighborhood Community Center, a Senior Center, appropriate and affordable residential housing, or perhaps even a park and ball fields. There are plenty of options.
Great minds, bold leaders and community stakeholders have a chance to create a new vision for the property with collaboration from the City Council.