Thursday, August 28, 2008

Save Neighborhood Schools

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Douglass High School, 3820 St. Claude Avenue, E.A. Christy, architect, 1940. Non-federal PWA Project. Currently open. Scheduled to close in 2011.

The School Facilities Master Plan for Orleans Parish is available online, but since it encompasses over 2000 pages, I've had trouble assessing the plan in digital format. There are supposedly copies in the libraries, but not at the branches Uptown. Plus, I'd like to have my own copy to really dig into it. So I was initally pleased to hear the plan was available for purchase at Letterman's Printing.

But I was not prepared for the sticker shock. The Blueprint ($118) requires color printing, as it includes maps of the current situation and phases of the plan. The supplementary material printed in in black and white more than double that cost (Educational Program Requirements $18, Building Standards $23 and the 1400 page Building Assessments $97).

A $700 million plan in phase one. Fifty-sixty-something schools landbanked. And they can't give every neighborhood group and school that requests one a copy of this plan?

from today's Times-Picayune. Letter to the Editor

Re: "Mid-City residents criticize school plan," Metro, Aug. 23.

The Recovery School District plans to close and "landbank" School in Mid-City and leave closed. I urge the RSD to reconsider their decision.

Both school buildings are very similar to the Andrew Wilson School building in Broadmoor, which is being renovated. They are no more obsolete than the buildings that house the Lusher charter schools, Audubon Montessori, Arthur Ashe and other schools Uptown.

Paul Vallas, the RSD superintendent, was quoted as saying that the RSD wants "to build a brand new school on a larger site that can serve more kids." Smaller schools may be a better option, though, because they provide a close community of students, parents, teachers and support staff.

My children attended Dibert Elementary School in the 1980s and early 1990s. Children from the neighborhood as well as those from other neighborhoods benefited from the strong academic program, the emphasis on the arts, the proximity to City Park and the close and diverse community that developed at the school.

The RSD should let Dibert remain open and renovate Morris F.X. Jeff.

Patricia Roger

New Orleans

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