When the Syracuse City School District tried to close Elmwood Elementary last year, Elmwood's community came out strongly against the decision. They even succeeded in getting the school back into the district's budget. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us why this year's plan to close the school is a completely different story.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- When the Syracuse City School District proposed closing Elmwood Elementary last year, parents weren't happy. But some families' reactions to the same proposal this year have changed 180 degrees.
"Last year, when we were standing in the very same room advocating for Elmwood to stay open, we weren't armed with as we do have now," Elmwood's Family Teacher Organization President Twiggy Billue said at public budget hearing Tuesday night.
The district included the decision in this year's proposed budget to help close a $35 million gap. But there are other reasons for the closure.
Part of what made parents change their minds as they went to the district offices, is a report the superintendent released to the school Monday night.
"The school has been chronically under-performing, and I feel that I cannot provide the teachers and students the support they need to turn this school around," Syracuse City School Superintendent Sharon Contreras.
"This year was very shocking to me, it was very eye opening to me and it was a wake-up call," Billue said.
Billue supports the closure, because she is worried about her first grader at Elmwood.
"My nephew has been able to flail around for a year, when I had the chance last year to stop the downward spiral," she said.
About one-half of Elmwood students aren't from the neighborhood and their parents chose to come to Elmwood.
"They want to make sure there's a smooth transition, that they have a choice in where their students are placed, so we will run a priority transfer period for them," Contreras said.
But for some Elmwood kids a longer bus ride may represent a fresh start.
"The ability for him to come home with a smile instead of a look of dismay because his writing wasn't up to par with everyone else's or he didn't spell the word the way everyone else spelled the word," Billue explained.
The budget will have to approved by the school board by June. If the closure survives the process until then, it will take effect next school year.
Elmwood's Family Teacher Organization plans to hold a community meeting to discuss handling the potential closure on April 17th.