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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Councilman Lombardi: Voices Concerns about School Closings, Requests Details on the Proposals

Councilman John J. Lombardi (Ward 13) sent a letter to Superintendent Thomas Brady last week outlining concerns regarding the Facilities Master Plan, which will affect several schools in his ward.  

The Fanning Howey facilities report recommends a reorganization plan that will directly impact schools in the thirteenth ward as follows: 1) Closing Bridgham Middle School. Students will be transferred to Nathanael Greene, Gilbert Stuart, and other middle schools. 2) Expanding Carl Lauro Elementary from a K-5 to a K-8, and moving West Broadway Elementary students—who had been relocated to DelSesto in 2007—into Lauro. 3) Re-opening the West Broadway school building and moving students there from Asa Messer Elementary.
Lombardi stated in his correspondence that he appreciates “the school district’s efforts to reduce costs and focus on successful school programming,” but that the report is unclear as to the actual cost savings, and that more information is needed on how such “savings will directly benefit students and teachers.”
Lombardi’s letter notes that, “Moving the West Broadway program to Lauro seems cruelly ironic—not to mention unduly disruptive—as parents of West Broadway students have fought for years to have the school on Bainbridge reopened.” The councilman added that, “Now the West Broadway school will be re-opened, but its students and teachers will not be the ones transferred there.” Lombardi suggested that West Broadway students and teachers be returned to their original school instead.
Councilman Lombardi also expressed concerns about expanding programming at Lauro Elementary. He cited issues such as student displacement, busing considerations, impact on mandatory and non-mandatory programs, staff changes, and capacity. On the latter he wrote, “Enrollment numbers for the 2008-2009 school year suggest capacity challenges for Lauro, should West Broadway, or any other program, be merged into the school.”
As for the proposed closing of Bridgham Middle School, Lombardi highlighted capacity problems at the schools that would receive Bridgham students, as recommended in the report, as well as the impact of displacement on students.
Lombardi is seeking a response from the School Department that provides a full breakdown of projected cost savings, and a summary of the proposed allocation of those savings. Additionally, he would like information on any and all administrative positions that will be eliminated based on the district’s reduced enrollment, and the proposed downsizing of facilities district-wide.