Committees to offer options for closures of some city schools

Public meetings are set in December

November 26, 2005|By SARA NEUFELD | SARA NEUFELD,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore community committees will present different options for school closures in their neighborhoods at a series of public meetings scheduled for next month.

The city school board voted this fall to reduce the system's operating space by 2.7 million square feet over the next three years, in response to declining enrollment, deteriorating building conditions and state demands to operate more efficiently. Closures will be necessary as a result.

The board, which hired a consultant for nearly $1 million to oversee the planning, must vote no later than April on which schools it plans to close for the 2006-2007 school year.

Community committees have been meeting for the past several weeks in eight regions of the city to discuss which schools to recommend for closure, which to recommend for renovation, and where they believe new schools should be built. The committees have also discussed desired school sizes, types and grade configurations, including whether middle schools should be converted into K-8 schools. They gathered public input at forums in October.

The system will hold another citywide forum from 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 5 at Edmondson High School with an open microphone.

Then on Dec. 7 and 8, committees are scheduled to present options for closures and reconfigurations at community meetings, where members of the public will be asked to fill out questionnaires ranking those options.

Meetings will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 7 at:

Forest Park High, to discuss northwestern schools.

Polytechnic Institute, to discuss northern city schools.

Dr. Samuel L. Banks High, to discuss northeastern schools.

Commodore John Rogers Elementary, to discuss southeastern schools.

Meetings will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 8 at:

Frederick Douglass High, to discuss western schools.

Edmondson High, to discuss southwestern schools.

Paul Laurence Dunbar High, to discuss eastern schools.

Southside Academy, to discuss southern schools.

For those unable to attend the meetings, questionnaires will also be posted online at www.dejonginc.com/bcpss/.

The community committees are due to make their final recommendations in December.

The system operates 171 schools with 18 million square feet of space, enough for 126,000 students. This year's enrollment is 86,300 and is expected to drop more in the future. Even with the 2.7-million-square-foot cut approved by the board, officials say the system will have 3 million square feet of excess space.

sara.neufeld@baltsun.com

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