Several Holbrook Elementary teachers and parents have contacted me to voice their dismay over the Mt. Diablo school board’s decision to close their school, which they believe was made hastily, without adequate feedback from the affected community.
Bolstered by Trustee Cheryl Hansen’s vote against the closure and Trustee Linda Mayo’s subsequent statement that she regretted making the school closure motion, Holbrook supporters are rallying outside the district office before tonight’s board meeting.
They plan to address the board, with the following “talking points:”
“Our desire is that the School Board would reverse its decision and permit Holbrook to stay open.
At the beginning of this process we trusted the school board to make the right decision that would benefit our community and students. They have let us down by making the decision to close Holbrook Elementary, a thriving and exemplary school in our district, with apparent disregard to the information gathered by the school closure committee. Many of the concepts shared on the CDE website for School Closure Best Practices were also ignored. The suggestions of Arne Duncan, Federal Department of Education head were not considered. Now is the vital time for us to make our voices heard loud and clear! Rescind your decision about Holbrook!
Talking point #1:
- The closure of two schools in one feeder pattern does not demonstrate ‘geographic equity’ to the North Concord community.
- Transportation problems and expenses for the entire neighborhood.
- Neighborhood businesses will be adversely impacted
Talking point #2
- Measure C and Measure A Funds
- Taxpayers and voters approved Measure C believing they were voting to improve their local schools, which are now closing.
- Measure A funds have already been spent at Holbrook with no future benefit to the community.
Talking point #3
- Now, much of the community is within walking distance of Holbrook. In the future, students will be forced to attend a different school creating a transportation burden that is both financial and emotional.
- This will have a negative financial impact on the district because of more absences and tardies.
Talking point #4
- The need to close schools was to bring $1.5 million dollars back to the school district.
- According to the newest data, the closing of schools, including Holbrook, could bring at most $700,000 back, but quite likely, there will be NO financial gain at all.
Talking point #5:
- At the February 15th School Board meeting, the decision to close Holbrook was based primarily on the idea that dispersing students to only two schools had the least negative impact on them.
- We believe the reasons for NOT closing Holbrook, primarily our high academic performance, cohesive staff, top-quality After School Program (ASP), are far more crucial in considering what will garner student success.
- Clearly, if you truly cared about negative impact on our students, you would realize all research shows high academic performance should be the driving priority of elementary education.
Talking point #6:
- We are disappointed to learn that the school board and administration had no strategic plan as to what to do with students, faculty, or the Holbrook site prior to this hasty decision.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan stated: ‘Put students first: “… evaluate all policies and practices against the ultimate bottom line: is this policy or practice improving student outcomes?” We believe that closing a successful elementary school like Holbrook will not improve student outcomes.
He also states that it is imperative to ‘protect the neediest children and communities: Where funding reductions must be made, governors and other policymakers can take steps to ensure that the neediest communities and children are not the hardest hit …’ Closing a school in a feeder pattern where we have 64% free and reduced lunch does not ensure that the neediest children are protected.
Duncan further states, ‘Families, teachers, and the community should be included in the decision and that schools that are considered for closing are persistently low-performing.’ Families, teachers and the community members were not included in this decision, nor is Holbrook a consistently low performing school!”
Do you think the school board should rescind its decision to close Holbrook Elementary in Concord?