School closure hearing... could've been worse
More than 100 people attended last night's COMAR hearing at Poly/Western, and it got pretty heated and highly emotional at times. One man asked the school board members if they're trying to increase test scores or the murder rate. Like many of the others who spoke, he fears violence will rise if students have to cross gang lines to get to their new schools or if rival gang members are placed in the same school.
But, honestly, I was surprised it wasn't worse given the magnitude of changes proposed. I remember bigger crowds coming out a few years back when Samuel Banks was being moved into its current (and, it seems, final) location and gang warfare was predicted. This is not to take the concerns presented tonight lightly. On the contrary, it's incredibly sad that every time a school is relocated, gang violence must be a key consideration. This time around, the relocation of IBE to the Lemmel building seems to be of particular concern.
A number of speakers expressed confusion with logistics of the school reorganization plan such as transportation and were upset they didn't have a say in the proposal. Some lamented the partnerships with outside organizations that would be lost when schools close. Some came to defend Lemmel (the school slated to close, not the building that stays open), wanting to know where Dr. Alonso and other system administrators have been since they rushed out there after November's fatal stabbing.
Parents from the National Academy Foundation presented some interesting concerns. If the school absorbs Dunbar Middle in 2010, what about its academic entrance criteria? Would standards lower? What about the students who play sports for Digital Harbor and are counting on their placement on those teams for college scholarships? And can the school system provide a facility for NAF comparable to the one it would be leaving?