Will There Be A M”E”SD?

Editor: Mr. Ueckert is a resident of Edgewood interested in education in the community.  We appreciate his desire to express his opinions on the important issues facing the Moriarty-Edgewood School District (MESD)

The Future of “E” in MESD

By Jerry Ueckert

Who can say what will happen should MESD carry through and shutter Edgewood Elementary? Personally, I would like to see Moriarty and Edgewood grow together in a mutually beneficial relationship, but MESD seems bent on biting the hand that feeds it.

The Great Depression couldn’t kill Edgewood’s school or community spirit. The old Edgewood Schoolhouse was built as part of Roosevelt’s Works Projects Administration and community members joined together to construct the school from indigenous materials on land donated by the Bassett family. That school served generations of Edgewood families from 1938 to 1960, but after consolidation into the Moriarty District, the Edgewood school was shuttered and the community suffered a near death. By the late ‘60s, Edgewood had only an RV park, Paula Donner’s Realty, and the Horn gas station on its main street to serve as a reminder of its former days.

Once I-40 opened, Edgewood saw the addition of businesses on the four corners of the interchange, which brought new families and construction into the community. Within just a few years, Edgewood experienced a surge in population and Moriarty was too small to handle the load. A new Edgewood Elementary had to be constructed and only a few years later, an annex had to be built to keep up with the area’s growth.

Having their own school once again was cause for celebration. A revitalization of creative energy followed. Many artists began calling Edgewood home. New businesses were established and a new vision of Edgewood’s future rose from the dust.

Now it seems as if we’ve come full circle and are threatened once again with losing our elementary school. But rather than being prompted by declining enrollment or poor performance, the closure of Edgewood Elementary is based solely on finances. Evidence supporting the stated concerns of shuttering by Edgewood’s Town Council and Chamber of Commerce abound.

Elaine Simon, author of a project-based education course, “Schools and Community Development,” states, “Schools are often the one institution still surviving in low-income neighborhoods, and they serve as a point of pride and community for families. When a neighborhood loses its schools, it also loses an institution that builds relationships among local residents and binds generations, while it serves local children. Losing schools makes it all the more likely that these neighborhoods will deteriorate further.”

The Atlanta Journal – Constitution reported in 2010, “DeKalb County school officials decided Forrest Hills Elementary was too small to remain open, and neighbors say its closure has changed their community in palpable ways. Formerly active residents and many young parents have moved away. Community gatherings have grown smaller. The recession makes the impact on property values hard to determine, but many residents believe they’ve been damaged.”

Richard Layman, a Washington, DC urban/commercial district revitalization and transportation/mobility advocate, says, “Schools are fundamental anchors which build and maintain quality neighborhoods and communities. Therefore to maintain communities we need to maintain the schools located within them.”

Andy Smarick, a charter school advocate and author of “The Urban School System of the Future: Applying Principles and Lessons of Chartering”, says that closing neighborhood schools can have negative and unintended consequences, stating, “Even if it’s low-performing, at least it’s a stable institution and an indication that the government has at least some investment in that neighborhood.”

So, do we want a school district unwilling to invest in the welfare and future of the community? Faced with these questions, Edgewood residents have legitimate reasons for concern that have not been addressed by MESD. But having faced these questions before, they have proven their willingness and ability to rebuild their future, literally out of the very dirt beneath their feet.

How does that benefit MESD? The short answer is: it doesn’t.

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Edgewood Moving Forward

The following was received from Edgewood Moving Forward:

In response to the Edgewood Town Council’s Resolution 2014-01, we have formed a group called Edgewood Moving Forward.  Our goal and mission is to create an Edgewood School District separate from the current school district.  We have a vision for our children’s education.  We invite you to learn about this vision at the town hall meeting that will be held on Saturday, April 12th at 3:00 pm at Edgewood Middle School.  We believe this is the time for Edgewood to Move Forward and take charge of our childrens’ future. We hope to see you there. 


**Please help spread the word about this meeting. Please forward this email to friends and family that might be interested in attending. Thank you.

 

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Alternatives To School Closures

Here’s another “infographic,” which could be used to some extent by the Moriarty-Edgewood Board Of Education and the district superintendent to help work out a non-closure solution to the dilemma in which the district is said to “find,” itself.  It is understood the district has, “Well-prepared and effective teachers who can support diverse learners.”

We repeat, from yesterday’s article: The proposal by the Moriarty-Edgewood School District administration is to close 40% of the elementary schools in the district.

Feel free to right-click on the image and choose, “open link in a new window,” for a larger and clearer image.

alternatives to school closurejpg

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Debunking The Myths Of School Closures

The intent of the Moriarty-Edgewood School District Board and the superintendent for the district is to close 40% of the elementary schools in the district.  Thus far they have been denied this drastic measure by the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED). They have attempted to further or bolster their case with supplemental submissions which are now being considered by the PED.

We are posting the “infographic,” found below because we believe it contains valid points against school closures.  This infographic and others to follow were developed when massive school closures occurred in several large cities in the United States.  Not everything contained in the infographic series will be applicable to this district, but each infographic provides food for rational thinking.

Debunking the my ofschoolclosures2

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Continued: No Schools Closing

EDITOR: As promised, here is additional information regarding the previously requested closure of Edgewood Elementary and Mountain View Elementary.

The following is a copy of correspondence Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera sent to the Moriarty-Edgewood School District Education Board President, Mr. Todd McCarty and  the district’s superintendent, Mr. Tom Sullivan.

The letter is self-explanatory and needs no clarification:

2hannaskanderaHannaSkanderaMoriarty

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This Did Not Happen .. Why Not?

Below, you will see a replication of a document sent to some parents from the school administration of the school their child or children attend.  The document bears the typed name of Tom  Sullivan, the Superintendent of the Moriarty-Edgewood School District (MESD).

The text of the document seems to be an attempt to set the stage for helpful and honest dialogue regarding possible solutions to the finanacial conundrum in which the MESD finds itself.

Sadly, we find from the document there are several promises made which remain unfulfilled. Those unfulfilled promises serve to harm the announced transparency of the MESD Superintendent, and the governance provided by the MESD Board of Education.

Why are the citizens of the MESD left wondering why the words of the document were not carried out?  Was it because of secret instructions to the superintendent by an unknown person or a group of persons?  Or were the promises contained in the words of the attachment purposely ignored due to some mysterious and sinister reason?  Or … was the failure due to an extended lapse of memory on the part of the document’s author?  So many questions — So few answers.

You decide:

Dear Moriarty-Edgewood parents and staff,

As you likely know by now, the District has been facing some serious budget and facility problems which, unfortunately, now require prompt attention. We have lost 2,000 students in the last 12 years- over 40% from our highest enrollment point.

During a series of both staff Advisory Committee and public meetings, we have identified a number of options to address the crisis- virtually all of them requiring school closure(s) and identifying other appropriate, alternative uses for existing District buildings.

Although almost everyone recognizes the need for drastic action, no one wants it be their own campus that is selected. While this may be understandable, it creates its own set of additional problems. I absolutely believe certain decisions have to be made NOW to at least stabilize the District’s finances, while more comprehensive, long term planning can then be undertaken. Problems that were 12 years in the making can’t be totally solved between now and August, 2014; especially those that would require major overhauls to curriculum, staffing patterns, facility design, transportation etc.

The MESD Board of Education has scheduled several more public meetings in the next month- the evenings of Dec. 10, 17 and January 21 (emphasis added) at the very least- at which they will continue to weigh options and listen to the school community.

Please try to understand that whatever the final outcome, it will be driven by the Board’s efforts to do what is necessary for the well being of the District as a whole.

Sincerely, Tom Sullivan

Well, we all now know the MESD Superintendent and the MESD Board of Education did not wait to make the decision to close two schools until or after January 21, 2014; but hurried to make the changes on December 17, 2013.

Given the failure of the superintendent and his and the board’s actions is it any wonder that parents, citizens and officials of the Edgewood community give little to no credence to anything they have done or will do in the future,

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Edgewood Resolves To Form New School District

This evening the Town Council of Edgewood, New Mexico passed Resolution 2014-01 calling on the Edgewood community to organize and plan for a new school district.  If successful the Edgewood Independent School District(?) would result from the Moriarty-Edgewood School District (MESD) being diminished in geographical and demographic terms.

The meeting was presided over by Mayor Brad Hill and town council members Sherry Abraham, John Abrams, Chuck Ring and Rita-Loy Simmons voted unanimously for passage of the resolution.

The action by the council follows a previous and current attempt to close the only elementary school within the corporate limits of the Town of Edgewood.  Citizens without school children, parents of school children and some district educators have urged town action in order not to have to face continuing efforts to shortchange the Edgewood community children, parents and school employees.

The two-page resolution will be filed with the New Mexico Public Education Department at the earliest possible time.  A signed copy of the resolution can be found below.

EdgewoodSchoolClosurePage1Resolution2014-01EdgewoodSchoolClosureResolitionPage2Also see: New Flash

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Edgewood Chamber: Insty Message, School Closure

     Edgewood Chamber of Commerce
insty message

 
Please make every attempt to attend the
School Board Meeting Tuesday December 17
at 6pm in the Moriarty High School Board Room.
The members of the School Board are considering
how they will fix a badly bleeding budget.
Closing a couple of schools and moving 6th graders to the Middle school are part of the solution.
Our problem is that they are thinking about closing
the ONLY Elementary School in the  Town of Edgewood.  We have been working very hard to attract new business to our area to create better paying jobs and help our general economy.
Do you know what it looks like when the ONE Elementary School in the actual Town of Edgewood is being closed down?
The school that is actually the star in the school district, with high evaluation grades?
If this is something you want to discuss further with the School Board and Superintendent Tom Sullivan,
I have attached their contact information at the bottom of this mini-blast.
Please, as members of our business community, contact board members, the superintendent, and
Senator Sue Wilson Beffort who has helped in the past.
Tom Sullivan: District Superintendent: 505-330-2600
Todd McCarty: School Board President
505-400-8478   McCarty@mac.com
Audrey Jaramillo, School Board Vice President:
Albert Chavez: School Board Member
505-239-2674  a2011sbm@yahoo.com
Elisabeth Howell: School Board Member
505-903-9762 paranch@q.com
Senator Sue Wilson Beffort
505-514-8667 or 505-292-7116
sue.beffort@nmlegis.gov