BALTIMORE (WJZ) — By the end of this school year, six city schools will shut their doors for good. It’s a cost-cutting plan designed to save the district millions and free up money to renovate dozens of other schools.
Gigi Barnett explains some parents are outraged about the proposed move.
Maeling Gordon-El walks just two blocks from her home to Abottston Elementary in Waverly to pick up her grandkids after school. She likes the teachers, it’s close by and the school was renovated just a few years ago.
“It’s pretty nice. It’s air conditioned, too,” she said.
So, imagine her reaction when city school leaders sent home letters this week saying Abbottston is set to close at the end of the school year.
“I don’t like the idea because I don’t see anything wrong with the school and I don’t understand why they want to close it,” Gordon-El said.
The district says there’s nothing wrong with Abbottston, except it’s enrollment. Fewer than 190 students attend the small elementary school. For that, they’ll be moved to another school.
Plus, there are five other schools slated to close because of low enrollment or crumbling buildings. The district has $980 million to upgrade them.
“They, for the most part, have water that you cannot drink out of their drinking fountains. Many of them have opaque windows that you can’t see through. The systems are bad; the boilers, the roofs leak,” said Alison Perkins-Cohen, executive director of the Office of New Initiatives.
“I’m saying please do not close this school. We have fought to keep this school open four different times,” said Mary Pat Clarke, city councilwoman.
Clarke says she wants those small schools in the city to stay open, especially Abbottston, which is in her district. She says the schools only reflect the move to smaller classrooms that school leaders created back in 2002.
“Every once in a while small schools are the target of being closed. Small is powerful,” Clarke said.
At this point, school leaders say their plan is just a proposal. Nothing is written in stone, but the district says it’s set to make a final decision on December 17.
In addition to the six schools slated to close, Guilford Elementary/Middle is also on the list to close in 2019.
The other five schools set to close are Langston Hughes Elementary, Dr. Rayner Browne Elementary, Northeast Middle, W.E.B. DuBois High and Heritage High School.
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