In these changing and uncertain times I think that anyone who has to count their pennies from week to week (which is everyone I personally know) are sympathetic of the need for changes that will float us to the day the economy begins to turn back around but I am outraged that our leaders feel that this might be accomplished primarily on the backs of our Western Mecklenburg County citizens....SHAME ON YOU!
I began this post two days ago after reading the front page article in The Charlotte Observer "CMS Picks 12 Schools for Possible Closure" and had waited hoping that CMS would come out with additional information that would more clearly outline their method and process for choosing the schools that they did, I have searched their website and news stories hopeful to find a link to some less abbreviated CMS plan, which I can not find.
We as a community should be disgusted with the fact that of the 12 proposed closing all but 4 of them are represented in West Charlotte. Of the remaining 4 school, it is somewhat misleading since 2 of those 4 schools are Montessori Magnets, which they proposed to combine and send to the current Oaklawn Padeia Academy Magnet (which they would close as it's current use and be a new Montessori School). Leaving only really Villa Heights which is not considered "West Charlotte" but is considered a high poverty enclave near Center City.
So what I can observe in CMS's abbreviated plan is if you are a high poverty school, minority and located in West Mecklenburg Co. you are on the top of their 'list'. Why is this happening? What do you think would happen if this same proposal came out and 80% of it's plan effected only South Mecklenburg Co. residents? All I can say is that I am sure that the last few days would have never been so quiet if that was the case...never. This is an opportunity for us to express our power and concern for our schools, the future of our communities, and our commitment to ourselves and our children to stand and fight---this is not right.
Each one of these proposed closings touch me very personally. I clearly want the best for Western Mecklenburg residents which means that we should be fighting to keep every possible school in this area open for our young people to learn and grow but even the proposal to combine the Montessori Program seems to me a mistake, with my daughter enrolled at one of these schools brings up a few other observations that must be recognized:
- What is the value of closing schools to move them somewhere else? What is the administrative costs associated with such a move? What is the actual cost of packing a school up and hiring a moving company to move it one mile down the road?
- What about the vacant real estate? How will you keep (now vacant) older schools from becoming magnets for neighborhood misconduct (vandalism, drugs, street crime, squatting)?
- What will be the cost of storage of all the furniture, materials, etc that will now not be used? If the proposal expects to sell these items have we thought about the long term cost of then replacing these items as our schools once again need to grow?
- What is the administrative cost of all of this moving and restaffing---seems that money is being spent when we least have it on the wrong end of the spectrum, paying for reorganization not education!
Most obnoxious of all is that poverty seems to be a driving factor in this overhaul, which begs the question: Since when has high poverty, high need been a qualification for reduction of resources????
Check out the map I created on the right, "Charlotte Meck Proposed CMS Closings" highlighting the location of the 12 proposed schools to close per CMS School Board Proposal outlined in Charlotte Observer Septermber 29, 2010