Thursday, December 08, 2005

Do not close any school

Here's MNPS Director of Schools Pedro Garcia's complete statement as released earlier today:

Dr. Garcia Statement to the Board of Education
Thursday, December 8, 2005

At its August retreat, the Board of Education listed as a priority the study of school
capacity issues across the district. The Metro Council and Mayor had all repeatedly asked us to look at this issue as well. In September, after the Sales Tax referendum failed, it became clear that budget reductions for 2006-2007 were going to be necessary. The Board asked us to look at which small schools could be closed or consolidated, without changing cluster lines, as a way to reduce recurring costs.

We immediately began to study the issue of school capacity across the district. It became apparent that there were only a few schools that could be closed or consolidated. At the November 8th Board meeting, I presented options for discussion and consideration.

After significant dialogue over the past several weeks, it is clearly evident that neither
this community nor this Board is ready to close schools. I initially said that the Board had to decide if it was worth it to disrupt and displace 2,000 students in order to save $4 million by closing seven schools. We know how painful school closures are and this has been evident in the comments from our students, parents, and community members, as well as in the Board discussions. Therefore, I recommend that we do not close any school for the 2006-07 school year. I also recommend that we do not change any of the present school configurations except for the proposed Antioch rezoning. This recommendation allows ample time for issues to be thoroughly studied for later consideration.

The process for the operating budget begins in just a few months and, as in the past, the Administration will bring its recommendation to the Board in March for consideration.

I want to remind everyone, as we move forward, that it is of the utmost importance that
this Administration and Board be united for the students, parents, and community of this district.
Well, that's good news for many areas. But that still leaves unanswered--what about the $25 million shortfall?

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