[This is the text of my comment at the public comment period at the July 9 school board meeting.]
I have two kids at Hoover and one at Southeast. My kids are old enough that they won’t be affected by the proposed closure of Hoover, and all three of my kids will attend City High. I live next door to City High.
But I’m against closing any of our existing elementary schools. I don’t think it’s justified, for the reasons I’ve already laid out for you in my email to all of you.
But I wanted to focus on one thing tonight. If people had attended all of those community workshops and at all the workshops everyone had said, “Let’s close Hoover School, we want to close Hoover School,” I might not be happy, but I wouldn’t be up here tonight.
But that’s actually the opposite of what happened. The prevailing sentiment at all of those workshops was for plans that did not close schools. And that includes Hoover – 63% at that final community workshop favored plans that didn’t close Hoover, even after they were asked how they would improve their favorite plan. So if closing Hoover was a “common theme” [as the steering committee had earlier asserted], then not closing Hoover was a very, very common theme.
The sentiment at all the workshops was against closing schools. And the fact that that’s the prevailing sentiment beyond just those workshops is apparent from the fact that we’ve yet to see any school board candidates running on a platform of closing schools. Candidates know that that’s not want this community wants, not what it values.
Sometimes it seems like the school system operates in a big bubble, and is impervious to what the ordinary people it serves think or want it to be. Maybe that’s natural and to be expected in any bureaucratic system. But one of the great functions of an elected school board is to get past that bubble, to give the community a voice in what kind of schools we want to have and what kind of community we want to have.
So I just want to urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to play that role for our community, and preserve our existing schools.