Many wondered why South Meck High School was the chosen location to discuss the closing of EE Waddell. Parents stood outside with no where to go for 20- 30 minutes or more. Finally, someone arrived and advised everyone to move to the gymnasium.
However, many changes took place and this meeting involved various schools EE Waddell, Smith Academy and Harding High School. While EE Waddell had been informed it was no longer necessary for them to speak. The decision had clearly not been made yet and many were mislead and lost their opportunity to speak.
However, many parents and students spoke from the other schools and a few from EE Waddell held onto their spot on the open floor. The most powerful speakers were the children as they pleaded and shared how these changes would ultimately effect their lives. They spoke of how as minorities they felt targeted. How they were outperforming their counterparts yet Harding was still being targeted. An outstanding IB program and Math and Science school praised in Newsweek . They asked CMS if successful students were what they have been asking for, then why would they take away their school for the language academy?
Three parents truly stood out, the language academy parent who stated that these children were in the position the language academy would be in (in the future), if they did not take the facility for their use because they were overcrowded. Very interesting that these children on the brink of graduation have to be worried about whether they will be able to complete their high school year with their peers and still be eligible for scholarships. Yet Smith is more concerned they will be in this position in the future. One parent who stated she was an attorney and a parent tried to get in the face of Superintendent Peter Gorman but was advised to step back. She advised there was a contract with Smith and Mr. Gorman can not back out of it.
The two parents that made truly sound recommendations from Smith Language Academy were two males (one military). One parent stated if the Board can not make decisions in the best interest of all the children then vote them out in the November election. Another parent said none of the locations should be closed abruptly to save $3 million dollars. He gave a sound plan to stop intaking students. He advised each year you clear a class starting with the freshman class, then the sophomore class and then the junior class and then you will be left with only seniors and can begin the take over process. The one thing all parents were sure of is that this $3 million dollar savings they were after should not harm the children currently enrolled.
Charlotte- Mecklenburg Schools were described by parents as changing with the wind. They first advised Harding that they would be moving to two other locations then they advised they would be closing altogether. However, the children stated they had already been moved from Myers Park High School. They were upset that the system spent millions building Huff High school this summer knowing Smith academy was in need of a facility and another high school.
The parents stated that CMS had been pitting the parents against each other every year and that this time they were not having it. They made it clear that the EE Waddell football players stood to lose upcoming scholarships and that they stood to lose academic scholarships, their ranking etc. The students asked why the board could keep 4 principals on staff at a $100,000.00 a piece at each high school yet they need to close the school?
It was really upsetting to hear CMS put a dollar amount on the heads of the children in attendance at these schools. They warned Mr. Gorman to present a plan that benefits all the children and defend it. The parents were clearly upset about the short notice and the mistrust that CMS has created.
When I heard the tag was $3 million dollars, I wondered why they did not save the millions they used this summer upgrading their air conditioning units at these very schools so they could control the units from down town! Yes, in the long run it will save energy but the short term consequence is too much to bear for these children. Is it worth the heart ache these children are having to bear? Clearly pet programs could be cut and salaries could be reduced to save jobs across the board. The passionate will remain and you will weed out administrators and teachers who are clearly not in it for the children in the long run. The children should be the last to be effected!