Proposal to consolidate, close Newark schools

February 22, 2011 2:31:14 PM PST
Big changes could be coming to Newark schools.

Officials are considering a plan that would move or consolidate some schools in order to make room for more charter schools.

The plan could impact thousands of students.

The proposal would move out students from struggling public schools, like the Quitman Street School, to make room for charter school students including those from the North Star Academy.

"If it's for the better, then it's a good thing for the children and they'll have an opportunity to go to college," Deborah Sweeney said.

The preliminary report describing the changes was obtained by the Star Ledger. Education consultants suggest freeing up space in Newark schools by consolidating students and, in some cases, closing down neighborhood schools.

"I would have to take her to school or she would have to be bussed and that's not good either," parent Wanda Veney said.

Mayor Cory Booker, who has listed education reform as a top priority of his administration, says the proposal is designed to make the schools more efficient.

"Given the budget cuts, we need to consolidate schools so we don't need to cut teachers," he said.

It's been five months since Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated one hundred million dollars to the Newark schools.

Improving the schools in this district, where fifty percent of students drop out, has sparked a big debate. Already a demonstration against the proposed consolidation was planned outside an advisory board meeting Tuesday night.

"By closing down schools, you have a school that's not in the child's community," Leah Owns of Teachers as Leaders in Newark said.

The changes also include adding five new public schools. At a meeting Tuesday night, Newark officials planned to announce plans for a high school for gay and lesbian students, another for advanced students ready for college-level courses and another for students recently released from jail.

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