OWN meeting to explore stopping school closures

       While School District 11 continues plans to close and/or reconfigure Westside schools, the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) is exploring options for stopping that from happening.
       A presentation by an alternative-seeking group called Citizens for Excellence in Education (CEE) is scheduled at the volunteer advocacy group's next meeting Thursday, March 26 at 7 p.m at the West Intergenerational Center, 25 N. 20th St.
       “It is my hope that CEE can become that sounding board for the BOE [Board of Education] and provide true unfiltered advice/input to the BOE,” OWN President Welling Clark said in an e-mail this week, adding that he has been “impressed with the technical and financial expertise of the [CEE] folks I have talked with.”
       The meeting was also highlighted in the recently published quarterly edition of the OWN newsletter, the Westside Story, which urges people to attend and learn “how parents and residents can become involved in the D-11 decision-making process.”
       Clark said that “the ultimate intent is to provide the public with an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the D-11 plan, the data used to justify this plan, and the potential impact it will have on the neighborhood, and to provide information so that Westsiders can make informed decisions based on accurate data.”
       As the one dissenting voice on a district-appointed Steering Committee for the School Utilization Plan (which the school board approved Feb. 25), Clark said he found that “student achievement was not the foundation of the school closures; it was all about money first. Everything else seemed secondary.”
       He continued: “It is my hope that reason and common sense from the public can persuade the BOE to not pull the trigger on such a hastily put-together plan that has not been thought through,” Clark said. “What has been voted on can be undone.”
       OWN is the city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside.

Westside Pioneer article