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Norfolk parents, teachers sound off on school division's facilities plan

Part of the plan would be to move Madison Alternative Center to Lindenwood Elementary, while Lindenwood students would be moved to other schools.

NORFOLK, Va. — On Wednesday night, Norfolk parents, teachers and alumni had the opportunity to address the school board on a proposal that would close down certain buildings.

And they did not hold back.

The plan would be to move Madison Alternative Center to Lindenwood Elementary, while Lindenwood students would be moved to other schools.

They said Madison is in such poor condition that it needs to close and Lindenwood isn’t big enough for all of their current students.

The proposal would also close Tidewater Park Elementary School and make Ruffner Elementary a school for 3rd through 8th graders.

RELATED: Norfolk School Board members raise questions about facilities plan

However, many don’t believe moving Lindenwood students is the answer to upgrading older facilities.

"Since I started working back in about 2012 walking your schools, the enrollment has declined about 5,000 students. The capacity is the same," said Cooperative Strategies consultant David Sturtz.

He is the Norfolk School Board's consultant on this proposal and he says something has got to give.

But all 18 community members who addressed the board said moving Lindenwood students to other schools and giving the old building to Madison Alternative Center is not the answer.

"You’re talking about taking a community school away from a community without spending time in that community. Boy, you don’t know this community and that is the issue," John Paige told the board.

One Lindenwood basketball coach said the school is a point of pride for the community.

"The children are not happy about this. They don’t know what the future holds for them because they don’t even know where they’re gonna be at next year," he said.

Sharon Barnes, vice president of the Lindenwood/Cottage Heights/Barraud Park Civic League, said logistically, this plan doesn’t work for a community that largely walks or relies on public transportation.

"To bus our students out of their neighborhood to schools over two miles away would do little to encourage family engagement and would be a hindrance to attendance when the buses are not running as planned," she said.

One teacher and Lindenwood alumnus says this is the wrong message to send.

"To actually take a school that has historically represented Black people for decades and to say, 'Here you go, let’s put an alternative school here' is the wrong message to send to our youth."

Nicole Sanders said she won’t stand for it.

"You’re not gonna continue to destroy my community where my kids go to school."

The consensus in that room was the community wants the school board to listen to them and vote down this proposal.

The board is scheduled to vote on March 16th. To view the entire plan, click here.


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