Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Questions from Downtown for CCSD's McGinley

Recent meetings of downtown constituents (District 20) of the Charleston County School District have yielded a tentative Option 4 (reported in Tuesday's P & C--see A New Plan for Schools). More about that later.

But downtown community members have also raised some unanswered troubling questions concerning Superintendent McGinley's recommended three options. Following are some of them:
Questions about Superintendent McGinley's Three options for D20
1. According to the CCSD School Redesign Criteria on which options are based, Charleston Progressive has the best ranking of any other neighborhood school in District 20. Why is it slated for closure?

2. According to CCSD's Redesign proposal, the K-8 grade configuration is associated with "improved student outcomes" and is one of the Redesign's target configurations. Yet the proposal splits up the best performing school on the peninsula, Buist Academy, into a K-5 and a 6-8, and terminates the second best performing one, Charleston Progressive.

3. Charleston Montessori requested the Berry campus. None of the options assign any particular school to Berry. Why wasn't its request to go to Berry honored? Why is the only option for Charleston Montessori to go to the Courtenay Building, where Charleston Progressive now resides?

4. All three options send the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science (CCSMS) a middle high to an elementary school campus (Archer) whose building has room for 283 smaller children, no science labs and no gymnasium. By 2012 CCSMS will have 480 teenagers. Does anything about this idea make sense?

5. The 2009 budget was balanced by a $7 million loan from the fund balance, with the understanding that the loan will be paid back with proceeds from the sale of property. Later, CCSD learned that its operations in Fiscal Year 2008 had yielded an $18 million surplus. Why doesn't CCSD pay off the $7 million loan with some of that surplus, apply the remaining $11 million to the 2009 deficit and forget about selling schools into the jaws of a real estate recession?

6. The Redesign calls for destruction and replacement of three buildings: Buist, Memminger and Rivers. At the big meeting before Christmas, the executive director of the Preservation Society raised many questions as to the viability of that plan. On December 18th, Historic Charleston followed suit with a letter to the same effect (attached,) to Dr. McGinley. Until questions on this major component of the plan are resolved, how can CCSD make final recommendations? Will that happen before January 26?

7. What would destroying and replacing three buildings cost? $100 million? Is this a fiscally prudent plan in the current economic environment? Wouldn't it make more sense to limit the capital expenditures at this time to work that is absolutely necessary?
None of us are foolish enough to hold our breath waiting for answers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr. McGinley spent 5 months working on her no-choice plan for downtown schools. She didn't meet with anyone from downtown. Her options were a complete surprise to everyone, even to those schools she was rewarding with the property and buildings of the schools she intended to close.

If anyone thinks she really wants the local communities to come up with a grassroots alternative plan, think again. She and her staff are not offering one iota's worth of assistance or information to support those efforts. Quite the contrary, she's going behind those groups making back door offers in an effort to divide and undermine them. Why else would she be putting pressure on the Montessori school from the suburbs to take Courtenay school and then goes to a downtown neighborhood association, Wraggborough, making an offer to replace Charleston Progressive by closing it and giving that school to a suburban transplant? It's not like McGinley doesn't have other vacant schools.

If this isn't about McGinley playing with race and public fear, then it's about nothing. How ironic! McGinley, the savior from Philly, is doing missionary work in the Deep South by practicing the worst sort of cynical racism. When she goes out on her next mission to another school district (or to Washington), let this be hung around her neck like an albatross.

She's no better than any of the self serving classroom-challenged superintendents that came before her...and at more than a quarter million dollars a year, including perks. McGinley's plan for excellence, like her reputation as a problem solver, is dead on arrival. Let that message go out to her future employers.

The school board needs to check with the local communities directly and they should make sure their plans reach individual board members. McGinley isn't going out of her way to deliver their mail if she believes it doesn't serve her ends.

The lady isn't honest.