So the school board voted 5-2 to close Hoover. Tuyet Dorau and Marla Swesey voted against the closure. Karla Cook, Jeff McGinness, Sally Hoelscher, Patti Fields, and Sarah Swisher voted in favor of it. Because of an amendment offered by Sarah Swisher, the closing will occur no earlier than the 2017-18 school year.
I was surprised by Marla Swesey’s vote. Maybe I misheard, but I thought her whole talk before voting was about how she came around to the idea of closing Hoover. Then she voted against it. I’d love to know why she ultimately voted No.
I don’t want to delude myself: I would definitely rather have won on the initial vote than have to pursue a reconsideration. Nonetheless, given the time line, the closure will occur only if the next school board, and also the one after that, agree with last night’s decision. There is an election on September 10. I’ve asked the candidates where they stand on the Hoover closure; their responses are here. The filing deadline in August 1, so more candidates may still emerge.
After the meeting, one board candidate asked me whether I now saw the board election entirely in terms of saving Hoover, or whether I would move on to other issues. My answer was “neither.” I do care about other issues, particularly related to curriculum and the kids’ day-to-day experience of school. On the other hand, I think the prospects for meaningful change on that front are very low, and I have to weigh that against the (I think) very real possibility that the Hoover decision could be reconsidered.
Though the Hoover issue is very important to me and may determine my vote, I think it goes hand in hand with the larger issue that we need board members who think independently, scrutinize the numbers they are handed, are capable of pushing back against the administration, and appreciate the need to maintain broad public support for what the board does.
I would trade all of my other policy preferences for meaningful democratic control of public education. I don’t think last night’s decision accurately reflects the values of this community, so I think we should use the democratic system to try to change it. If I’m wrong about what the community wants, I can accept that. But given that school closures have never been the subject of any board election, and that they were never raised during the public vote on the Revenue Purpose Statement, and that every indication has been that the community does not want to close schools, it would be premature to move on just because five board members have a different opinion.