Reconfiguration discussion continues

By SHERRI KOLADE
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Tears and talking points flowed during a recent District 7 informational meeting to discuss reconfiguration plans that potentially involve closing Madison Elementary School, 4950 Madison, by June.

A crowd — including parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, parent teacher association and community members — packed the meeting March 12 at O.W. Best Middle School.

D7 officials are closer to voting whether to close Madison after the district’s Elementary Building Reconfiguration Committee, formed in October, recommended closing the school to the Board of Education during a meeting March 4. The committee recommended the option to reduce the district’s $1.4 million deficit.

A school board vote, scheduled tentatively for Monday, could leave the district with three elementary schools — Bedford, Polk and Pardee — for its approximately 1,200 students.

Many in the audience had their personal votes already cast on what should be done.

During the March 12 meeting, some attendees shared their thoughts with words; others chose to walk out.

District Media Specialist Jeannie Rahaman, who teared up during the meeting, said afterward that she wants her district to succeed.

“It is really emotional for me because I have a vested interest in the students and I want to see everybody happy,” Rahaman said.

Madison Kindergarten Paraprofessional Karen Whisler, who has lived in the district for the past 15 years, said after the meeting that she loves her job and she will be sad if Madison closes.

“It is a great staff and I love my job and teachers I work with,” Whisler said. “But I am adaptable and if I don’t have a job in the district, I will still volunteer, because I love it.”

Whisler said she hopes that disgruntled parents keep their children in the district because the board will make an “informed decision” soon.

“Hopefully families stay so they can keep their children’s education going,” Whisler said.

D7 Supt. Jeffrey Bartold did not return calls by press time.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)