The DeKalb County Schools citizen task force, which was appointed after outraged parents protested the planned closing of ten schools, reached a "decision" to recommend not closing ANY schools, after two months.
The appointment of this task force was a no-win situation for the school board. Had the BOE forged ahead with its own decision, which was ostensibly based on enrollment drops, it would have faced a continued firestorm from parents in the attendance zones where schools would be closed. Appointing the task force brought criticism that the BOE was abdicating its and the superintendent's responsibility and dodging the hard decisions. Truly, there was no good way out of this dilemma.
The decision by the citizen task force, however, is merely postponing the inevitable--facing a massive budget shortfall, the BOE has no choice but to cut something. If they keep all the schools open, they will have to cut staffing, which will increase class sizes. Incidentally, research has clearly demonstrated that decreasing class sizes has no positive impact on student achievement above the primary grades, but "small class size" is one of those feel-good goals that won't go away. It is another case of making adults happy without regard to whether the expense helps children. The education unions have a vested interest in keeping class sizes small--smaller classes = more teachers = more membership dues for the union.
If they keep the schools open and don't cut staffing, then the BOE will have to reduce something else. They could decrease the number of days that school is in session each week from five to four--a measure that has been shown not to have a positive impact on student achievement and could negatively impact it. So they save teacher jobs at the expense of student achievement? Is this why we have schools--to run employment agencies for adults, or to educate children?
Another cost-cutting measure could be that salaries are reduced while hours worked are kept at current levels. This would no doubt produce howls of protest from the employees. Would they rather have lower salaries or for some of them to have no jobs at all?
Regardless of what the BOE ultimately decides, someone is going to lose. Let's hope it's not the children.