On Tuesday the Charlotte Mecklenburg school (CMS) district board voted unanimously to keep University Park Elementary school open. The board voted to shut down the school two years ago. Back then staff thought it would save the district money and be a better academic situation for the students.
New Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison recommended the school board to leave the school open. After some pressure from parents Morrison instructed staff to review data to determine if the district should still move forward to shut down University Park ES and have students merge with First Ward Elementary students.
The district was proposing a year round school calendar with having students on multi tracks. Parents found that confusing and never figured out why their school was on the chopping block in the first place.
"There was never a clear explanation as to why our school was targeted." First Ward ES Parent Maria Lamb said.
Lamb and other parents pressured CMS to review the decision. Morrison did and staff found data changed and there wasn't really a cost savings to shut down University Park ES and merge it with First Ward ES.
"It looks like any savings would have been minimal," CMS Zone Superintendent Tyler Ream said. "Versus any costs which may have been more on the significant side."
It was also discovered having students merge with First Ward would not have been better academically for the youngsters.
"We wouldn't have expected increased academic outcomes." Ream said.
School Board members are pleased the new superintendent decided to put things on hold.
"Anytime you make a decision that's pretty far into the future," School Board member Rhonda Lennon said. "You need to keep checking on your data and make sure things haven't changed."
CMS is confident it is doing the right thing
"If that means we need to go back and look at a decision," Ream said. "Then I think we have that responsibility to our community and our kids to say let's do what's best for our students."
The district will now take another look at the schools to see what else can be done to make those schools better.