School shutdown urged

Close Pimlico Middle, citywide education panel recommends

January 18, 2007|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,[ sun reporter ]

A Baltimore education committeerecommended last night that Pimlico Middle School be shuttered this summer as part of the latest round of school closings in the city. Last week, the committee approved a recommendation to close Thomas G. Hayes Elementary this summer and to phase out Lombard Middle, Hamilton Middldle and Canton Middle over the next few years. The recommendations, which grew out of a series of community meetings, will be presented to the school board Tuesday. The board will hold a series of public hearingson all proposed closings during the week of Feb. 10, before voting onthe recommendations Feb. 27. It will be the second of three annual rounds of school closings in Baltimore. With space in city schools for 125,000 students but 85,000 enrolled, the board voted in the fall of 2005 to reduce the system?s square footage by 15 percent over three years. At the time, the state was threatening to cut off money for school renovations and construction if the systemdid not start operating more efficiently. System officials say that by closing schools, they will have more money to spend on the buildings they have left. Between October and December, more than 600 people ? including parents, teachers and school administrators ? participated in the community meetings that led to the recommendations, according to system officials. Committees in eight regions of the city studied the schools in their areas to determine their space and renovation needs. Each of those eight committees forwarded recommendations to a citywide committee, which voted on the plans last night. The citywide committee?s recommendations are the ones that will be sent to the school board. The citywide committee was appointed by the school board and has 44 members made up of a broad cross section of city residents, including elected officials, parents, students, teachers union representatives and others. At last night?smeeting, the committee considered a series of different options affecting city school buildings, many of which are old, dilapidated and inefficient to operate.

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