August 8, 2006 > School closure debates
School closure debates
by Rick La Plante
The New Haven School District Board of Education on July 18 discussed the criteria for identifying the two schools it has decided to close, as the District seeks to minimize the financial impact of declining enrollment by reducing spending on facilities and operations in order to redirect resources to teaching and learning.
The Board voted in May to close one elementary school at the start of the 2007-08 school year and one middle school in 2008-09. The closures will reduce expenditures by about $1 million per year.
The Board considered a list of questions to be used as criteria for determining which schools should be closed. The questions:
What is the age of the school facility?
When was the school last modernized?
What is the academic performance of this school?
How will students receive specialized services?
What has been the enrollment pattern for the last five years?
What is the proximity to other schools?
What is the capacity to house students?
Will transportation costs decrease or remain comparable?
If the site remains open, are there traffic/pedestrian issues?
What is the cost of "closing" this site?
What will be the enrollment of this school if it remains open?
Board members suggested additional criteria such as the effect of the closures on school boundaries; the effects on the surrounding community and on community use of school facilities; how the closing of one school would affect traffic at others; and socio-economic and diversity issues.
The Board will hold a study session on the closure issue before its next regular meeting Aug. 15. A series of forums will follow on Aug. 24, Aug. 31, Sept. 11 and Sept. 13, to give parents, employees and community members an opportunity to provide input. Information also will be available at Back-to-School Nights at all schools.
A public hearing will be held Sept. 5 and final decisions will be on Sept. 19.