Protecting Local Schools

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On Jan. 20, the School Reform Office distributed a letter to parents, guardians and academic administrators around the state, alerting them to the potential for their schools to be closed by the end of the year. While the cutoff standard was simple in theory — schools slated for closure were in the bottom 5 percent of school performance in the state for at least three years or more — the criteria for delaying closure, as outlined in the letter, were vague, mentioning that schools could remain open if closing them would create an “undue hardship” on families, without further explaining what constituted a hardship.

This has created a lot of uncertainty in communities across the state, several of which face multiple potential closures. Little information has been given to parents, including a lack of options for parents in the event their schools were to close. While the SRO included a list of potential alternatives, those locations ranged from five to up to 29 miles away from their original school. Many students walk or rely on public transportation, and the SRO troublingly did not provide information for parents who do not own a vehicle or could not transport their children such distances.

House Democrats are working to see these closures prevented. If a school is struggling academically, then simply shutting its doors without attempting to solve the problem is not the answer. We are committed to working with local administrations and school boards to find real-world solutions to problems facing school districts, and will continue to fight the SRO to ensure that these schools remain open.

To learn more about how the House Democrats are responding to the potential closures, please read the following: