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CMS Begins Studying Schools For Expansion And Closure

On Tuesday, the CMS board released a list of 32 schools that will be considered for expansion or possibly closure. The board is looking at shifting hundreds of students next year to different schools. WFAE's Lisa Miller talked to Superintendent Peter Gorman about the different reasons schools are on that list. The schools on the list are varied. They range from high-performing Davidson IB Middle in the north to struggling Westerly Hills Elementary in the west. What the schools have in common is they all have at least one thing going against them, says Superintendent Peter Gorman. "You could be on the list because your school is overcrowded, because your school is below capacity, because we have concerns about the academic performance of the school, or because we're concerned about the programs at the school," says Gorman. "It does not mean you're slated for closure." Earlier this year, Gorman said he'd recommend the board close up to ten schools to save money next year and boost academic achievement. He's since backed off a specific number. Among the several factors the board is using to evaluate schools, academic performance carries the most weight by far. As parents got their first look at the list yesterday, many were eager to have their say. "We've had people contact us and say, 'We love our school. Please don't touch our school,'" says Gorman. "We've had others come to us and say, 'We not only love our school. I know we're over capacity, but let us stay large. We're okay with that.' And then there have been others who've said, 'You know if you're going to move us, move us to this school or move us to that school.'" CMS staff has also been weighing in. "One of them was an individual that just talked about some of the hidden reasons why it's a great school. Things you don't know per se about the volunteering of staff, the parent community's commitment," says Gorman. "That's part of what I think we've got to consider. There are quantifiable things and there are qualifiable things. We have to keep them all in mind." The board will be studying and likely adding to the schools on the list over the next week. Board Chairman Eric Davis hopes to have specific plans the public can comment on next month. He's shooting for a decision on school closings by mid-November.