ASBURY PARK — The state fiscal monitor who oversees financial operations in the school district Thursday morning ordered the closing of the Barack H. Obama Elementary School as of July 1.
Bruce Rodman, the monitor, made the decision after the school board in recent weeks failed to support a plan by Schools Superintendent Denise Lowe to reconfigure elementary grades to create early childhood learning centers in the district, a plan which would have kept the Obama school open.
Officially renamed early in 2010 after the president, the building was known as the Bangs Avenue School since it was built a century ago. The state School Development Authority had planned to build a new school to replace the historic building, but has pulled back and Lowe said recently the state would not build a new school.
The district has had a significant decline in enrollment, Rodman said in a letter explaining his decision. Lowe has said she preferred her own plan to keep the school open but have preschool-through-third grade children go to the Obama and Thurgood Marshall schools and then group all fourth and fifth graders at Bradley Elementary.
But she also said there were advantages to closing the Obama school, and it will bring the children in the early grades together at two schools instead of three as she had sought.
The district has said it can save significant amounts of money, first through $375,000 in staffing cuts. The next year, the total savings could be $759,000 for moving the alternative school now in the Salvation Army building into the Obama school. And by the third year, that savings can reach $975,000, Rodman said, by moving the district administration offices into the Obama building. Right now the district rents space in the former Asbury Park Press building downtown for $15,000 a month. (The Press no longer owns the building.)
Does anyone else see the irony of this? Not only has the President billed himself as strong on education, but he also has done nothing but try to increase Government spending in almost every department, despite the fact that we’re on the verge of financial collapse. I suppose it’s only fitting that a school named after him is being closed to save money.