The community of Camp Hill is facing the prospect of the closure of Edward Bell High School. As is often the case the habit of consolidation is in play. The tried and untrue policy of making schools bigger and further removed from communities-in the name of saving money-seems to have a central place in Tallapoosa County’s attempts to deal with money shortfalls. Although the superintendent and board reassured Camp Hill citizens that other options are being considered-no other alternatives have been so prominently front and center as school closure. The message for PACERS chapters and schools-and for all small rural schools-is that small rural schools have been and remain on the chopping block. The unproven notion that bigger is better and cheaper is so ingrained in the minds of policy makers that consideration of alternatives seems unlikely if not impossible. In a day when it is easier to move information and instruction than students, policy makers and administrators persist in running fossil fuel buses up and down rural Alabama. So what does this mean for PACERS chapters and schools specifically? That question will be discussed in detail at the PACERS conference-you are invited to attend-just send your name to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place. But for now it means that no community can take for granted that its school will stay open, and it means that every effort must be made to build upon the strengths of small rural schools and continually promote their value to boards and media. PACERS members should be actively engaged in the life of their school-including making sure that there are representatives at all board meetings and that contact is made consistently with board members and central office administrators. PACERS projects offer important options for very good media coverage that can bring focus on the life of the school. Also chapters and communities need to be informed about the value of small schools and their schools in particular. Details and strategies will be sent to chapter members and the conference will provide us an extended opportunity to look at ways to keep schools open.
Posted on April 14, 2010 by pacersinc