February 8, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Linda Chappetto, Campaign Manager
MPS Board President Peter Blewett questions Superintendentís process in school closings
Milwaukee Ė Milwaukee School Board President Peter Blewett questioned Superintendent William Andrekopoulosís process in announcing school closings last week. The Superintendent proposed closing several schools next year, and he did so without gathering input from teachers, parents, or administrators from those schools Ė or from the school board.
Blewett said, “The superintendent makes his best decisions and does his best work when he works closely with the board and other parties interested in our childrenís education. The superintendent should not be making these kinds of decisions without giving parents and teachers a chance to seek a better solution.”
The superintendentís recent announcement reverses the course that the district has been following. The board had put in place a year-long budget process, which included town-hall meetings that focused on key issues but not on the closing of schools, and the administration has just recently brought a recommendation to the board to hire a consultant to develop a strategic plan and a process for closing schools. The board approved the recommendation, but the administration has not hired anyone nor brought a process back to the board.
Blewett wants to know why the superintendent is now announcing the largest amount of school closings in recent history. “The superintendent seem to be acting prematurely, since neither the consultant nor the process is in place. We donít have a strategic plan that looks at enrollment or demographics. What is the plan for systematically providing seats to students who would be displaced by these closings?”
When the superintendent recently mentioned that he was looking at school closings as a part of the budget process, Blewett asked the superintendent to make sure that he received input from all interested parties, that he had a plan for providing seats to students, and that the superintendent would look at all the programs in the district to make sure that unique programs, especially those serving kids with special needs, would not be upset.
Blewett said, “Unfortunately, the superintendent has not done that, although he assured that he would. The superintendent did not even inform me that he visited Eighth Street School, which is in my district, until I asked him about it, the day after he announced to the school community that he planned to move them out.”
The Superintendentís budget: puts the following schools in jeopardy: the alternative programs at Eighth Street School (including Project Stay), Lowell, Granville, Philipp, and Frederick Douglas. The Superintendent has already recommended closing Jackie Robinson, Douglas, and Garfield.
President Blewett said, “I am not afraid to make tough choices so that our property tax dollars are spent wisely, but the superintendent needs to gather input from the community before making these kind of decisions.” The superintendent has scheduled public hearings so that people have a chance to voice their opinions, but Blewett wants to know why school closings were not on the agenda for the fall Town Hall meetings. The superintendentís hearings are “too little, too late as far as the parents, teachers, and students of these schools are concerned.”
Blewett was unhappy that the hearing date for the Innovation and School Reform Committee had been moved to Tuesday, February 22, 2005, a night that Blewett had told the superintendent that he was not available. “We need to work together,” says Blewett, adding, “We do our best work when we work together.”
The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 22, 2005, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Office Auditorium, 5225 West Vliet Street. For more information about the hearings, please call 414–475–8282.