The Bettendorf School Board on Monday approved leasing a temporary facility for Bettendorf students despite shouts and grumbling from parents at a packed committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Mark Twain and Thomas Jefferson elementary students in second through fifth grades will be moved to an existing Ross College building for four months starting August 2019 while the new Mark Twain Elementary School is being built.
The school board unanimously voted in August to close Thomas Jefferson and send its students to Mark Twain.
Parents said they were upset Monday night that the board was not more transparent about the plan to temporarily send students to the facility at 2119 Kimberly Road in Bettendorf.
Several people attending the meeting shouted questions, accusations and “No vote!” during the board meeting, where Board President Adam Holland reminded parents “This is a not a public-engagement session.”
Jerod Engler, vice president of construction at Bush Construction, spoke to the board about the plan along with Chris Andrus, director of operations.
The plan will cost $359,000, Engler said, including $312,000 for the lease.
With this plan, no students will be on site during the demolition and peak construction of the building. The Ross College location will include parking and a drop-off area.
Andrus said administrations will discuss a transportation plan Tuesday with parents. He said free transportation will be offered to students.
“Why can’t we have a voice before you vote on this? This is ridiculous,” shouted Amber Vaughn, who attended the meeting with her daughter Emmeline, a first-grader at Thomas Jefferson.
Board member Andrew Champion said he would have liked more engagement with the community, and was surprised by the lack of information available before the meeting. He added there will be separate entrances for college students and younger students.
“We’re upset because not only are we losing our school, we’re losing its name, we’re losing its mascot,” Vaughn said. "Our family bought a home to be at that school."
She learned about the proposal through the rumor mill, she said. “A third-site location was never mentioned.”
Stacey Struck was the only board member who voted against the lease.
The elementary schools' merger, which is scheduled for the 2019-2020 school year, came as the district discussed the challenge of stagnant student enrollment and costs of running six different elementary schools.
A meeting for parents of students at Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain will be 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Grant Wood.