At the first of five public hearings on the proposed closings of 12 Baltimore public schools, parents pleaded last night with the school board to reconsider, saying that their children learned best in small schools that aren't crowded.
About 100 people showed up at Lake Clifton/Eastern High School and protested the closing of three of the schools: Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Frankford Intermediate and Luther Craven Mitchell Primary, all located in eastside neighborhoods.
FOR THE RECORD - An article on Baltimore school closings that appeared in some editions yesterday incorrectly reported the date that the school board is scheduled to vote on a proposal to close 12 city schools. The board is to vote on March 13.
The Sun regrets the error
The three schools have space for far more children than are enrolled. Charles Carroll, an elementary and middle school is a four-story brick building at North Central Avenue and Orleans Street between Johns Hopkins Hospital and the central post office. It can hold up to 1,000 students but there are only 505 enrolled.
City schools enrollment, now at 101,000, has been dropping for the past decade and is expected to be at 80,000 by the end of the decade.
But parents at Charles Carroll said school officials should consider the impact on their children before closing the school and moving the smallest children to City Springs Elementary School. "You are asking us to send our children across three main streets - Lombard, Orleans and Fayette," said Lynnette Walker, a parent. "We want our children to stay in our community."
Most city children walk or ride MTA buses to school. School buses are provided for children in special education.
Ellen Lerner, a volunteer at Charles Carroll, said: "Nowhere does this report speak of the lives of the children that it effects. I wonder - What message does that send?"
Parents also expressed concerns that after the three schools are closed, their children will be assigned to schools that are not as good. Middle school students from Charles Carroll, for example, would go to Lombard Middle School.
Barbara Faltz-Jackson, vice president of the Frankford Improvement Association, said the intermediate school in her neighborhood would be a great loss because it is believed to be just as good as the numerous parochial schools nearby. "Reconsider ... when you have a viable school that can compete with a parochial school."
Frankford, in the 6000 block of Frankford Ave. near Sinclair Lane, has 250 students but can hold twice as many. The students would be transferred next door to Moravia Elementary and Thurgood Marshall Middle.
Candace Little was concerned about her smallest child, who, she said, needs the protective atmosphere of Luther Craven Mitchell Primary. The school, in the 1700 block of E. Chase St., has 93 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students who live within a three-block radius. They would be transferred to Moravia Park Elementary where, Little said, there are drug dealers on the playground.
Several parents of students at Charles Carroll have said privately they believe the school is being closed because it is a large building that could be purchased by Johns Hopkins Hospital, located just blocks away.
The board will hold four more hearings this winter on the proposed closings of the other nine schools before it decides the matter on March 18. If the board decides to close all 12 schools over the summer, it could save up to $3.3 million.