Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Board votes to close Hoover; what next?

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.


Julie VanDyke said...

I propose the RPS be officially renamed SILO II, and every attempt this school district makes to bond for anything be named its SILO consecutive until this district finally follows the will of all of it's constituents equally.

I propose we, officially or unofficially, name the parking lot built on Hoover's grave after the board members that first voted to make it so.

I encourage everyone in this district to demand a new Superintendent and I call for a public vote of NO CONFIDENCE after he sold us the RPS on the premise that they needed the $100,000,000+ to create seats in the elementary schools IN ADDITION to what we already have without EVER saying anything about closing elementary schools to build new giant McSchools on their graves. David Dude is the sole person in that administration that has I have trust in to tell us the truth. He started to tell us the truth last night, but he was cut off by Steve Murley...if anyone on the board had any sense of what's really going on they would have then, again, as they did in the first place while looking right over at him, asked him again, do we need to close Hoover to be able to adequately "grow" City High to be on par with West and the 4th High School? I would have trusted an answer from him whereas, Steve Murley cutting him off first and just vomiting up more Murleyspeak makes me even more certain the decision voted into place last night was wrong without design plans confirming the necessity of decapitating Hoover to appease the City High ÜBER ALLES faction because of the board's prior decision to approve a 4th high school.

I think John Bacon pretty much walks on water as far as leadership, integrity, and quality of character, and I hope my son has the chance to benefit from that, but I can not say the same for many other current and former City High parents and alumni after last night's vote and their behavior since the RPS.
Murley and Board, you have now created an East East rift that will absolutely hurt the future of that previously solid voting block, only further divide the district for many years to come. With Tuyet and Chris Lynch running, I wonder if you have just handed the balance of the board majority over for a "quick win" that we will all regret for years to come.

Karla Cook, you may have just handed your and Tuyet's seats right back to her - hope I'm wrong...but if I'm not, I hope it was worth what you've done to us all on this after the coming election results.

I propose a public expression of NO CONFIDENCE in the leadership of Steve Murley and the seated Board, and I would welcome the opportunity to work with others on a document that calls for it.

iclocal said...

Does anyone know why closing Lincoln was never discussed by the board at the last two meetings? I find it strange since it was listed as a possibility in the scenarios and that it would have made the most fiscal since to close Lincoln due to it's age, the majority of kids are bused there and that it serves such a small population. I also don't see how it's FLR can ever be balanced at 4-6 percent. It's like the elite of IC are getting their own private school.

Chris said...

Iclocal – You are taking the various board and steering committee members’ discussions of operational costs at face value. In fact, I don’t think there was ever much support on the board for closing existing schools for reasons of operational cost. (I don’t support closing any of them either.) Lincoln is just lucky that it didn’t have a high school next door.

Chris said...

Julie – Thanks for commenting. “City High über alles” is right. More thoughts here.

David said...

I am surprised that Hoover supporters are now being accused of creating a rift between City High and the community. I was at the board meeting on Tuesday and can vouch for the fact that, to a person, the Hoover supporters begged and pleaded with the Board to explore ANY option that could allow City to grow and Hoover to stay open. At the very least, we asked for concrete details of how City would use the Hoover grounds. I know I speak for the vast majority of Hoover supporters when I say that we are also City supporters; we don’t want to cut off our noses to spite our faces by denying City needed renovation. We just wanted details and assurances that every possibility of both expanding City and saving Hoover had been explored. These pleas were ignored; we were told simply that it was a “complex issue.” I agree: it is complex. That’s why the vote should never have happened on Tuesday. It amounts to a gross abuse of the public trust.

I’m sad, too, about the future of the district. Getting future monies secured just got a lot harder. And it was unnecessary, too; with more diligence, and with a demonstration that they were actually listening to the public, the board could have preserved good will and still made progress on district expansion plans.

That vote should not have happened.