Lomonte said that she started the petition as a way to reach more people with that message, and also as a way to make it clear to the board how many people don’t want the district to make any changes. She said that the message is the same one that parents who are opposed to the restructuring plans have been making at the last three school board meetings: They want the district to find other ways to make the budget work, and believe there is still too much uncertainty to know whether repurposing the schools would be worth the effort for such a limited financial benefit.
Lomonte said she appreciates the district’s giving parents the opportunity to express their concerns by scheduling the forum. But, she added, many of the questions parents are asking have yet to be answered, such as how transportation changes would affect the city, what a restructuring of the schools would do to home values and what the social and emotional effects on students would be.
“At this point, they’re hearing us, they’re hearing our concerns, and they’re trying to answer, but the answers are not satisfactory,” Lomonte said. “They need to think about what we’re doing before we make this big leap for minimal savings.”
Although many of the concerns that parents will likely raise at the forum, like increased class sizes and shuffling grades among buildings, have been voiced at recent board meetings, Lomonte said that they are planning to raise some new issues. One parent who is an architect, she said, is planning to ask about zoning and construction. Another plans to ask about moving the sixth grade down to elementary school as a way to redistribute students. And another plans to focus on the new Superblock high-rise proposal, which, if constructed, would bring more taxpayers, and more children, to the district.
“We just want our school district to remain as is and find another way to make this budget work,” Lomonte said. “If they do move forward [with closing East], it’s going to cause so much heartache and disruption.”