10 December 2012 @ 10:50 am
On neighborhood schools and school closures  

I was stunned yesterday to discover that my local school, Sewell Elementary, is on the TUSD (Tucson Unified School District) closure list. Stunned partly because no one wants to see their community school close–I watch kids and families walk to this school every day, and so I know just how strong a part of the surrounding community Sewell is–and also stunned because this is one of the district’s more successful schools, and so choosing it for closure just doesn’t make any sense, and does the entire district a disservice.

Sewell is also in a part of the city where, within a five mile radius, several other neighborhood elementary schools have closed already.

If you’re a Tucsonan who cares about this and would like to see Sewell (or any of the schools on the closure list) stay open, TUSD has a form for comments here. (I also sent copies of my comments to my state legislators, because the budget problems that put closing Sewell on the table began at the state level.)

No matter where you live, if you’re up for doing something more concrete, there’s also a campaign to raise $50,000 to secure permanent portables and so increase the school’s capacity. This won’t guarantee Sewell stays open (and funds will go to a local literacy charity if it doesn’t), but it will improve the school’s chances.

Thanks for listening. For now, I’m remaining hopeful that if enough people speak up, the district will reconsider.

The least we can do is try, for the sake of our community and our city.

Mirrored from Desert Dispatches: Wordpress Edition.

 
 
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Janni Lee Simner: critteralienjanni on December 10th, 2012 05:55 pm (UTC)
The icon, btw, comes from a series of sidewalk tiles created outside the school by Sewell students some years back. Those tiles have been making many of us smile, through the years!
Emma Bull: Arizonacoffeeem on December 10th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
That's...insane. The closure, I mean. I'm afraid to ask what the state legislature would like to spend the money on instead of the education of Arizona citizens.
Janni Lee Simner: critteralienjanni on December 10th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
They honestly are in a serious budget crunch on the school level, partly because of a sales tax that failed to pass ... but this still feels like short term, not long term, thinking.

And Sewell is at capacity and succeeding. This doesn't seem like the right school to close to consolidate to me, at all. If consolidation is even much of a solution in the first place, which is not at all clear.
Bethcasacorona on December 10th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, these closures are a result of the failure of Prop. 204 in November. We've had a temporary 1% sales tax that directly funded schools. It expired, and the voters saw fit not to renew it. Now there's a big budget shortfall for next year. So in this case, it's not the legislature, it's the voters.
Janni Lee Simner: critteralienjanni on December 10th, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
I feel like it's both, honestly, because the legislature has been making education not a priority for ages. But the sales tax failure ... defeated at the state/Phoenix level, of course ... is a huge part of it.
Emma Bull: Cat in Specscoffeeem on December 10th, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
But that's why you don't fund K-12 education through propositions. If you ask an aging population to decide whether to fund schools, they're likely to look at the question in terms of what their family needs...and their kids have graduated.

Propositions are lousy decision-making vehicles for anything that calls for a big-picture, long-term view. What's supposed to happen is that voters choose representatives whose job is to make those decisions by considering the needs of the whole state over a period of decades, rather than their own personal short-term needs.

And yes, I admit it doesn't work that way very often nowadays. That doesn't mean it's not the right way to do it.
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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )