NORFOLK -- Norfolk is considering a plan to close and consolidate several schools to combat declining enrollment and boost student performance.
The school board met Wednesday to discuss the possibility of closing Lafayette-Winona Middle for at least one year to transform the building into a magnet school. The new school would either be kindergarten through 8th grade or a 3rd through 8th grade school.
After the school board met to discuss the proposed plans to consolidate and close schools they held a public hearing to get the public’s input on its upcoming budget.
Parents, teachers and other staff members gave the board an earful on a budget that doesn’t include raises.
“It is also not okay to suggest that current teacher pay is enough to attract and retain the best professionals, teacher morale is low and turnover is high and our most vulnerable student population is paying the price," said Elizabeth Janik, a parent with a group called Norfolk Growing and Investing in Norfolk’s Schools.
Another teacher who said she has to make tough decisions about her healthcare told the board, “Even though I look healthy it's a relative term I do take medication I'm a diabetic and it gets expensive. It's a trade off at this point...am I going to get the health care that I need or am I going to eat?"
Thomas Calhoun, President of the Norfolk Federation of Teachers, was the last person to speak.
“We're not priority we're not partners period. We are going to the city council like we do every year, but we're not going with you because I don't need you all to ask Mayor [Paul] Fraim for a raise. We don't need ya'll," he said. "You're asking for an extra $11 million and not a dime in it for one of us and that's an extra $11 million are you kidding me?"
The district paid consultant group DeJong-Richter $190,000 to come up with a plan to reorganize Norfolk schools.
“This was a very thorough, rigorous process, with involvement and input from many sectors of the community,” said Superintendent Samuel T. King. “We appreciate all of the diligence brought to the recommendations, which provide an excellent framework for the School Board to begin its discussions.”
Another recommendation is to close Willoughby Elementary and consolidate it with a new Ocean View Elementary.
Also, school leaders could select a third middle school to shut down.
The new Campostella K-8 would open as planned, and there's a chance students from across the district could fill empty seats at the new school.
Lake Taylor High School could become a career and technical school.
The report also suggests altering elementary school attendance zones in order to expand preschool.
Last month, the district held public forums to get feedback on the plan. The school board would have to approve all the proposed changes.