Articles tagged with school closures

Detroit’s cost-cutting proposal, overly dramatic, logistically infeasible, intentionally thought-provoking

1194985021415637292axe_peterm__svg_medI’m not sure how to react to a Detroit Public School proposal to close nearly half of the city’s schools over the next two years—and boost class sizes to as high as 62.

On the face of it, the proposal is ludicrous. Not only will it not pass political muster, the logistical problems in finding classrooms big enough for 60+ students makes talk about the instructional issues rather pointless.

So it’s obvious this “the sky is falling” plan—proposed by Robert Bobb, the state-appointed emergency financial manager for DPS—is simply making a dramatic point about the school system’s dire financial situation.

I suppose that’s fair enough. Confronted with shrinking enrollment, a decline in property taxes and state aid, and a huge budget deficit, Bobb has no choice but to shutter dozens of schools, cut staff, and boost class sizes.

So he might as well shock folks with apocalyptic visions of the future—so everyone is so numb with shock that they accept more modest, yet still painful measures.

Of course, before that happens, Bobb will need to weather the inevitable firestorm of criticism. But I’m betting that’s part of his plan—let people vent before talking about less-traumatic change.

Naomi Dillon|January 13th, 2011|Categories: Governance, Budgeting, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Swine flu cases increase, spread throughout U.S., causing fear

Is there any bigger news in education (in the country? in the world?)  right now than the threat of swine flu entering homes and communities, disrupting and shutting down activity? I think I can say decisively: no.

Over the last several days, Pres. Obama in several televised interviews, including one to mark his 100th day in office, assured the public the H1N1 virus was a cause for worry, but not panic. But it’s hard to suppress the urge to grow overly anxious, especially as suspected and confirmed cases of the virus grow in the U.S. and the World Health Organization ratcheted up its response level to the new strain of virus, declaring a “pandemic is imminent.”

Yup, that’s real calm-inducing news.

Predictably, schools , which are already breeding grounds for germs, have responded swiftly. More than 300 schools nationwide have shut down so far, the bulk of them in Texas, where 26 cases of the flu have been confirmed and  four Houston-area schools have been shut down indefinitely, prompting Gov. Rick Perry to declare a state of emergency.  

Besides putting classes on hold, the school closures have halted extracurricular activites and sports and have sent parents scrambling to find alternative childcare.  

All of this turmoil begs the question: are school closures an effective means of containing the disease? Yes and no, says Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

“School closings will probably not themselves stop a pandemic,” Esper told the Los Angeles Times. “But they slow down the spread of the virus and give us a little extra time to study it and figure out how to treat it.”  

But, University of Minnesota researcher and Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, also told the Times closing a school would be moot if the students gathered on the playground or some other area while school was out.

Obviously, schools need to make determinations on a case-by-case basis. To inform your decisions, be sure to visit the Centers for Disease Control and the Education Department for the latest information and guidance.

Also check out Swine Flu guidelines and information for school leaders from the National School Boards Association.

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|May 1st, 2009|Categories: Governance, Wellness, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |
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