To the editor:

For the past several weeks, I have followed the letters regarding the proposed renovation vs. the reconstruction of the Uintah Elementary School.While Kathy Howze would have us believe that saving the facade is the only solution, it is my feeling that a safe and adequate learning environment for the students is of utmost importance. Even if that means building a new school at the cost of losing a neighborhood architectural anchor.

For the past six months, the Salt Lake School Board has consulted with some of the foremost structural, mechanical, electrical and educational design teams in order to determine the fate of the old school. While everyone agrees that replacing the existing school with a new one would be a historical loss, they also agree that there is no feasible way to guarantee that a renovated school would equal the educational quality of a new structure despite the fact that renovation costs could exceed an additional $1 million to make the attempt to renovate over the cost of building a new school.

Even with a renovation plan, double sessions, busing during construction and classroom sizes that are smaller than recommended norms are realities.

Having assisted the school board in wrestling with these difficult alternatives, I cannot justify asking my neighbors to pay additional tax amounts to attempt a renovation of a structure that will be an inadequate educational facility when completed. As taxpayers, we will have a difficult time just swallowing the estimated $100 million tax increase to make all of our schools more earthquake tolerant.

Even though the school board has yet to make a final decision, they have carefully weighed each consideration with fairness to all sides of the issue. Without doubt, the board understands that public opinion from Uintah's 652 students, 33 teachers, 22-member Community Council and 1,100-member PTA overwhelmingly sways toward building a new school. This hardly represents a few selfish, uninformed voices.

Jonathan L. Goates

Uintah School Building Committee