Stop TUSD closing eco-schools before Dec 20th ! – Public meetings Dec 8 & 10

posted Saturday, December 8, 2012        

Saturday, December 8, 2012
10:00 am
Monday, December 10, 2012
6:00 pm

at Catalina Magnet High School Auditorium, 3645 East Pima St (at Dodge Blvd)

 
Dear climate activists,

As you probably know, many Tucson schools are slated for possible closure, especially on the west and southwest sides of town. Some of these schools have shown great leadership in preparing our students for the real future: teaching ecology, climate science, and practical skills like gardening and bicycling.

These decisions cannot be finalized without public input, and a series of meetings is taking place in preparation for a final vote by the TUSD governing board, set for Dec. 20.

Public meetings at Catalina High, tomorrow and Monday, will address the closings of Manzo Elementary and Wakefield Middle schools, among others. – Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10:00 a.m., and Monday, Dec. 10, at 6:00 p.m., Catalina Magnet High School Auditorium, 3645 E. Pima St. (at Dodge Blvd.)

Tucson Audubon Society is participating in a campaign to save Manzo Elementary in particular. According to the Tucson Audubon Society,

“Tucson has a groundbreaking elementary school that engages students in practical ecology. … This innovative flagship school serves an unmet need … in Tucson. As such it is a key asset in Tucson’s future ability to reverse habitat loss, support declining wildlife species, mitigate for and adapt to climate change, and make the most of our scarce water resources. Manzo’s rainwater harvesting, urban food production and wildlife programs provide a model for all schools across the arid southwest and beyond.”

They invite you to view their letter to the TUSD board, tucsonaudubon.org/images/stories/temporary%20events/Manzo_Letter_LO_Final.pdf, and to write to the board yourself; contact info here tusd1.org/contents/govboard/govboard.html

A good source of info on the school closings issue in general is Equity for TUSD Schools, on Facebook, facebook.com/equityforTUSDschools?ref=stream

Wakefield is one of the schools most involved in bike education and with among the highest proportion of students who bike to school: tucsonvelo.com/news/pima-countys-biggest-bicycle-school-on-tusd-closure-list/14967

Thanks for giving your attention to the health of our planet at all scales, from local to international!

Suzanne and Miriam, members of the Tucson Climate Action Network


One comment about “Stop TUSD closing eco-schools before Dec 20th ! – Public meetings Dec 8 & 10” ...
 

What is TUSD afraid of? – Please contact TUSD

I am writing to urge you to contact the outgoing TUSD Board and urge them to:

* leave all final decisions on closing additional schools to the incoming Board of TUSD, and
* remove Manzo from the list of proposed schools to close.

Please use the information at the bottom of this email to contact TUSD. Time is of the essence, since there will only be two public meetings on the proposed closures (this Saturday and Monday).

The financial situation of TUSD is very critical and is undoubtedly going to get worse. It is the result of

* demographic shifts in the ages of Tucson citizens,
* the rigidity of the TUSD educational models and practices,
* 10s of thousands of Tucson families who have voted with their feet and chosen other schools,
* actions by the Legislature to take money from schools around the state, and
* declining total regional population.

TUSD has not planned adequately for any of these factors, and they will not be resolved quickly.

As a result of these factors, TUSD is projecting a $17 million budget shortfall, and they are planning to close an additional 14 schools as soon as possible. (On top of the 5-6 they are expecting to close under the current closure process and the 3 or 4 more they tried and failed to close in the last 2 years.)

These closures are planned to be rapid and comprehensive and the District expects to save roughly $5-7 million out of the projected $17 million shortfall. Staff and other cuts — on the order of $12 million — are also expected. With the failure of Prop 204, it is likely these cuts will only be the first ones, not the last.

It is clear that TUSD is in dire financial and structural straights. They are proposing to shut down extremely valuable community assets and this will have profound and long lasting impacts on the many communities that make up Tucson, and on TUSD itself.

Manzo elementary school is an obvious example of TUSD’s wrong direction. Manzo has developed a school-wide food system that provides a platform for experiential, inquiry-based learning for students and healthy food for them and their families. Students maintain and document an aquaponics system (vegetables and fish), chickens, water-efficient garden and water harvesting system. This hands-on learning is being incorporated into their programs for science, math, social studies, language, and art.

If TUSD was innovative and not panicked, they would view Manzo and other schools as the premier example of training our children for the jobs that serve Tucson. After 5 years of this extremely valuable learning, students could go onto their middle and high school, that could also develop useful, integrated learning programs. By the end of their times with TUSD, students could graduate from high school with as much as 12 years of practice and theory in urban food systems.

I have two questions that need to be asked and answered:

* What is TUSD’s plan to repurpose the schools they are shutting down and to return them to beneficial use for and by the communities they serve?
* Why is the outgoing Board choosing to bind the hands of the incoming Board by making this decision on December 21?

What are they afraid of … the End of the World?

Please contact the TUSD Board and tell them to vote against any motion to make any final or binding decision to close any more schools until the incoming Board takes over. They will have the responsibility for the consequences of the current Board’s actions. The incoming Board should have authority to make these decisions and they should be held accountable for them.

Please take these actions:

* Attend the Board meetings at Catalina Magnet School on Saturday, December 8 at 10AM and Monday, December 10 at 6PM .
* Call or email the outgoing TUSD Governing Board and tell them to leave the final decisions to the incoming Board. They are the ones we elected in November, not the ones that are leaving.

Contact TUSD:
Phone 225-6070
GoverningBoard(at)TUSD1.org

Thank you,
Tres English


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