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Parents, community speak out on possible city school closings

Six Baltimore City schools could potentially close
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Posted at 11:07 PM, Nov 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 06:33:53-05

Tuesday's special public meeting to discuss closing more schools in Baltimore City drew dozens of people. Nothing is set in stone, but the community is worried.

People are afraid that West Baltimore could once again see resources pulled from an area in the most need.  Six schools could potentially close at the end of next school year.  One is the only middle school option in Sandtown-Winchester, William Pinderhughes Elementary School.

RELATED: Protest targets Baltimore school closures

"We think that the last people that should get a cut is our children," said activist, Rev. C.D. Witherspoon.

Witherspoon addressed the crowd Tuesday night outside of city school headquarters.

"We're also tired of budgets being balanced on the backs of poor black and brown children," he told the crowd.

Here's a list of the elementary schools on the potential chopping block:
-Coldstream Park 
-Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson 
-Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology
-Knowledge and Success Academy
-Rognel Heights
-William Pinderhughes, the only middle school option in the Sandtown-Winchester section of the city; known for its low income neighborhoods.

"If you say this is a bad area and these kids are leaving the house  when its dark to walk to school they're walking past swimming pools, the projects, who's going to guarantee me that my grandchildren are going to get home," Eugia Johnson told ABC2.

Johnson worries that if William Pinderhughes closes, the longer distance her grandkids would have to walk to get to the proposed rezoned schools like Gilmor or Eutaw-Marshburn elementary schools could put them in danger. 

School system leaders say closures are considered for schools that have low attendance and poor performance levels.

Parent, Gloria Terry said, "Our children are not just the future, our children are now they should have a voice in what they want."

Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises says they do have a voice and these decisions are never made lightly.

"We want to maximize the opportunities we can give to young people and then the other thing I would say is of course it is always difficult for a community to lose or feel like its losing its school."

No decisions to close have been made and the school board says it's behind every student.  

"I'm committed to, the board is committing to is really working with community organization and community leaders to really help young people transition," said Santelises.

Tuesday was only the first of two public meetings on the potential closures.  The next one is December 12th.

The board is expected to vote on this issue December 19th.