Letter: School board can do better than closure
There are many reasons why the Rowan-Salisbury school board’s proposed closing of Overton Elementary is baffling.
The first is a question of why? Within the past 12 months, there was a good plan to build a new K-8 school to replace both Overton and Knox. Instead, the new proposal is to temporarily repair Knox and demolish Overton.
The school system has made much ado about the renewal plan, and this proposal flies in the face of the values and goals of such a plan. There was a win-win available, and this proposal seems to be leaving that option on that table.
Secondly, this proposal would have North, Dole and Isenberg elementary schools all at over 90% capacity, a less-than-ideal situation. With all the growth this community is hoping and preparing for, why would we close a city school and leave others too full to grow? We can do better than overcrowded schools. If that means we need to find ways to pay for the education system we need, then let’s have a hard discussion about that instead of about which children won’t get the best education we can provide.
Thirdly, as our community and nation grapple with the effects of institutional racism, we cannot ignore the fact that systemic practices of injustice show up in this proposal. North, Dole, Isenberg and Overton schools are all over 90% free and reduced lunch and are between 18% and 34% minority (nonwhite schools).
One elementary school in the county recently saved from closing is only 51% free and reduced lunch and is 86% white. These are facts that cannot be ignored.
While I am not accusing the school board of targeting minority schools, we must be focused on such data to make sure we are not replicating structures of injustice inherent in the status quo.
— Robert Black