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Our View: Some schools ought to close

Closing schools is never easy. The action requires change of such magnitude that it threatens the equilibrium not only of children but of their parents as well.

Closing schools is never easy. The action requires change of such magnitude that it threatens the equilibrium not only of children but of their parents as well.
If children are well-adjusted, happy and making academic progress, nobody would want to change things just for change's sake. And yet, there is another view that suggests that being able to adapt to change is a life skill worth having.
So it is that, if Gov. Jesse Ventura's budget is passed intact, the Duluth Public Schools are faced with a $13.49 million shortfall over the next two years -- a shortfall large enough to require closing a few school buildings.
The district is considering closing Birchwood, Grant, Lester Park, Piedmont and Rockridge elementary schools, as well as the middle school portions of Lincoln Park and Central High School.
The district has lost approximately 19 percent of the student population it had eight years ago, and is projected to lose another 9 percent in the next five years. It is still operating 20 buildings -- as it was eight years ago.
The issue facing the Duluth Board of Education then is this: Should we continue to spend the same amount of money on heating, utilities and building maintenance, and cut only educational programs and instructional staff, or is there a way to streamline the physical facilities to reduce the fixed costs of upkeep and thus minimize the damage to our core mission of educating students?
Given that question, it becomes clear that some buildings ought to close. And even though change can be frightening, it makes more sense to embrace the idea of creating something more efficient than it does to fight to hold on to the status quo.

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