Brown Memorial BUILD leaders have been working diligently with leaders from the community around Eutaw-Marshburn to oppose the school closing. We have also been working with BUILD leaders from the other elementary schools that were slated to close – Steuart Hill Academic Academy and Dr. Bernard Harris. Here are the outcomes from the Tuesday night School Board Meeting:
- Eutaw-Marshburn and Steuart Hill were originally slated to close in June 2021. Our mobilizing efforts won us a one-year delay. This gives leaders time to organize to either continue to work to save their schools or work to ensure the transition to the new schools is smooth and to hold the district accountable to their claim that students’ educational experiences would improve as a result of these closures.
- Through our mobilizing efforts, Dr. Bernard Harris was removed from the list of closures. That is a victory for the Oliver and Johnston Square communities. However, Dr. Santelises was clear that enrollment at both schools must grow if the schools are to remain open (increased enrollment means increased dollars for schools) “This is the only school where the facility issue is not as severe, but the enrollment challenge is,” the CEO said. “There is a call to action. To our partners and community leaders, we need you to deliver. You committed to doing a campaign to increase enrollment, so I am offering you the opportunity to do so.”
Our work and her response have laid the groundwork for a campaign of leaders in Oliver and Johnston Square to get on the ground, talk to families with children and find out what it would take for them to send their kids to Dr. Bernard Harris or Johnston Square elementary schools. Then we can organize around those issues.
- As a result of our mobilizing, the School Board unanimously approved a motion to pause the closure of any more schools until the district presents a comprehensive long-term plan for school closures that takes into account citywide enrollment, school utilization rates, condition of buildings, academic performance, etc. We need to add surrounding neighborhood redevelopment is added to this list. While this motion didn’t come in time to help EMES and SHAA, it is going to help the countless other city schools that could become targets for closure.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of this effort.