Parents in McCellanville are enraged.
Politicians and bureaucrats from the Charleston County School District (CCSD) held a meeting last night in a failed attempt to calm their discontent.
The meeting, called a “School Redesign Public Engagement Community Dialogue II,” was a carefully orchestrated attempt to convince local parents that closing both the McClellanville Middle School and the Lincoln High School is in the “best interest” of the community. The meeting was more widely attended and much more passionate than the feisty “Dialogue I” meeting held earlier this month.
But insiders insist the District is already engaging in contractual negotiations to close or sell the schools, without any consultation with parents whose taxes pay for these schools and whose children attend them.
Needless to say, the meeting did not go well from the CCSD perspective. Parents drilled officials for hours and left more skeptical than ever.
Officials are blaming the 5% budget shortfall for the closures, but no proposals have been given to make cuts in administration or other non-instruction expenses. Nor is there any plan to close failing schools before more successful ones.
Interestingly, the students in McClelanville would be bussed to attend failing schools in other parts of the district, and even attend schools where administrators are already clamoring for building expansion and construction because of attendance growth.
More about the meeting can be found at the Charleston’s Shame blog.
Charleston public schools spend $9,824 in public money per child. Shockingly, only 42 cents per dollar reaches the classroom in the form of instructional spending. Rather than making arbitrary and closed-door decisions to shut down schools, District Officials need to reduce waste and offer all parents more access to proven-effective (and cost-saving) choices such as charter and private schools through scholarships and transfers.
UPDATE: Print Coverage now from the Charleston P&C:
The opposition started with murmurs of dissent and individual shouts of disagreement, and Robertson attempted multiple times to proceed with the schedule. But the crowd wouldn’t be pacified, and the tension escalated until the room erupted in frustration and anger.
People wondered aloud when they would be able to talk in an open forum about the proposals that would close their schools. They walked up to the front of the room and asked to be heard, and Robertson relinquished the microphone.
Some questioned how they could give feedback now when they still didn’t know the results of a previous community forum on the criteria that would be used to rank schools for closure.
Another felt disrespected and another felt like an “outsider.” They asked how they would know that the forms they filled out Wednesday night wouldn’t just be ignored.