I support District 96's offer to purchase the Hollywood Citizens Association (HCA) property adjacent to Hollywood Elementary School. My support for District 96's decision is not only as a board member, but also as a member of the Hollywood community.
District 96 is embarking on several facilities projects that will address overcrowding and improve play space at the grade schools, which in turn will enhance the educational environment.
All the grade schools have unique constraints and the district can address these constraints at Ames, Central and Blythe within the current footprint, especially with the recent property purchases.
The district cannot improve Hollywood to the extent that is needed, which includes separating play and parking, without additional property. The school needs the entire HCA property to provide the children adequate learning space and adequate play space.
The school board has looked at numerous options, including purchasing only part of the HCA property, but the optimal solution requires the entire property. Anything less will not provide space that is needed for an addition, playground and parking for staff.
As a member of the Hollywood community, I hope that the HCA accepts the district's offer to purchase their property. The sole objective of the HCA as stated in their bylaws is for the "advancement and promotion of the physical, moral and social welfare of the section of the villages of Brookfield and Riverside known as Hollywood."
I know the building and the property has significance to some residents, but the maintenance and preservation of the property is not the objective nor mission of the HCA.
The money that the district is willing to pay for the property will provide the HCA significantly more opportunities to advance their objective and mission on which the organization was founded. The house and the property where the HCA is located does not promote the physical, moral or social welfare of the Hollywood community. The children of the Hollywood community would be better supported if the property was owned by District 96.
The house on the HCA's property was originally built in 1920 to serve as a kindergarten and primary school for the children of Hollywood. Building codes, educational requirements, the ever-increasing enrollments and educational mandates today prevent the house from serving as a classroom or a host for any school activities.
It is in the best interest of the children of Hollywood and fitting that the HCA accepts District 96's offer to purchase their property for it will allow them to further their objective and mission.
Selling the HCA property to District 96 will continue the legacy that the property was originally designed, which was to be a school for the children of the Hollywood community.
David Barsotti lives in the Hollywood section of Riverside and is member of the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education.