Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cora Howe Elementary may close under new Metro zoning recommendations

reprinted from

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A specially-appointed task force has revealed its recommendations to rezone Metro schools.

During a meeting on Wednesday night, the task force suggested closing five schools because of low enrollment. The schools include W.A. Bass, Martha Vaught and Ewing Park, Brookmeade and Cora Howe.

It was also suggested zoning hundreds of low-income students back to schools in their own neighborhoods, instead of busing them to other locations.

A similar plan was proposed last year but was dropped because of fears that schools would become racially segregated.

A Metro teacher who didn’t want to be identified said she thinks the plan is ludicrous. "The district would be segregated. If they're putting children back in neighborhood schools, then you're talking about segregation," the teacher said.

The idea of closing the schools has to do with low enrollment. Last year, 21 Metro schools were less than 70 percent full.

Jessica Fleming knows her kids will be in the mix if Brookmeade Elementary closes.
"I think it’s a shame. It’s a small, sweet school," she said.

The changes would save the city $4 million and would not take affect until the 2009-2010 school year.

Children whose schools are shut down would be sent to nearby schools. "Just because they're not filled to capacity, why is that so bad? Why does it have to have 25 kids in a class?" Fleming said. "By virtue of being half empty, it creates expenses of staffing, it creates expenses for heating, cooling, what not," said school board member George Thompson.

Thompson added that more social workers and teachers will be added to low-income areas and said parents who want to continue busing their kids can. "That proposal somewhat brings them back to the inner city, but they have the option to stay where they are," he said.

Before anything is approved by the school board, there will be a public hearing, which has been set up for June 3 at 6 p.m. at East Literature Magnet School on Gallatin Road.