12:16 PM EST, March 7, 2012
On Tuesday, Baltimore school communities went before the city school board to express concerns about the district's recommendations that would either shut down or dismantle their schools at the end of the year.
You can read a bit about their presentations, which the board embraced, here.
We've covered the plight of Cherry Hill neighborhood, which has vowed to fight to keep its community high school Southside Academy from closing at the end of the year. The only school recommended to close this year, school officials said Southside was recommended because its achievement, enrollment and popularity in the school-choice process has continued to decline.
The Southside community came out 50 to 60 strong Tuesday to protest the process by which they were informed of the recommendation for closure (the news media), the impact the closure will have (Cherry Hill has a history of neglect and limited quality educational options) and the general sense that the school system fails to grasp the story behind the data--one of a tight-knit neighborhood whose students excel in their own right, if not by state standards.
Not as vocal, but just as present at the meeting were parents of Moravia Park Elementary/Middle School, who were protesting the fact that the recommendation to drop the school's middle grades at the end of March puts their middle school students months behind the rest of the district in the "school-choice" process.
The city's middle and high school students submitted their top three school choices in the fall, and received their placements last month.
Parents agree with school officials that Moravia Park is bursting at the seams with 1,030 students and counting, and the school continues to be flooded with new students from its growing international and refugee neighborhood.
But, they do protest the slim-pickings that their students will have if they choose not to take the seats of neighborhing Northeast Middle School.
Federal Hill Prep and Steuart Hill Academy are also recommended to undergo the same grade configuration.
"There was no choice given to any of our middle-school children," said Cecilia Johnson, president of the school's Parent Teacher Community Organization. "What does that say to our community?"
Johnson spoke on behalf of Moravia Park's parents Tuesday night, the majority of which couldn't speak English without their translators. Eight languages were represented, and while the parents couldn't verbally express to the board their concerns, they held colorful signs that read loud and clear:
"No Northeast," one parent held up throughout the 1 1/2 hour meeting.
"Democracy= Our Choice," one sign read.
"Let us pick our children's school," read another.
A second public hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturdayat city school headquarters, 200 E. North Ave. The board will vote on the recommendations March 27.
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