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In the spotlight

February 01, 2001

Angelique Flores

Confrontational letters and a Web site, angry community meetings and

threats of recall have hailed upon the Ocean View School District

superintendent and board of trustees in the wake of several controversial

decisions.

The latest controversy concerns proposed middle school gymnasiums with

the residents most opposed to project coming from the Spring View

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neighborhood.

"We do have a lot of concerns, and there are a lot of angry people,"

said Spring View resident Fred Frangente. "Spring View people are up in

arms over this."

But the district's problems with residents date back much further than

the recent Spring View problems. Supt. James Tarwater, who has felt the

brunt of the criticism, came under fire in 1995 over his agreement to

lease the closed Crest View site to Wal-Mart and the district's decision

to allow youth soccer groups to use the Meadow View School site has

resulted in complaints and vandalism at the school.

"You develop a thick skin," Tarwater said. "The superintendent of any

district will be the lightning rod."

Having jumped on the bandwagon later than the other communities, the

Spring View neighborhood group is now the most vocal during meetings,

echoing many of the same concerns previously raised by other residents.

"These other groups are caving in, but we won't," Frangente said. "Our

main goal is to prevent the gyms."

While the gyms have gained support with some residents -- as long as

the district works with the neighbors to iron out the details -- each

neighborhood has a faction that is keeping its arms closed to whole idea.

None are as adamant as the Spring View neighbors.

"We're not open to anything except complete abandonment of the

project," said Frangente, who calls the project "flawed." "We want no

compromise."

Other residents are also opposed to the project. However, they feel

that it shouldn't be a priority.

"We think there are a lot of other needs," said Stefan Rubendall,

spokesman for the Spring View residents group. "We want to be assured

that all 15 schools have everything they need for educational purposes

before they go off on the gym venture. If everything is perfect, and

they've got this extra money sitting there, then a gym is a good thing

for the children if done in a proper way."

Residents in other areas agree.

"The priority should be modernizing all schools before building the

gyms," said Mesa View Middle School parent and resident Ed Falzon. "We

need to modernize first, then build the gyms."

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