News and Tribune

June 6, 2008

Silver Street Elementary group gains momentum

Committee joining with neighborhood associations

By TARA HETTINGER

Just weeks ago, it started out as a group of concerned residents trying to make sure Silver Street Elementary School stays open.

Now, the push has expanded to various neighborhood associations.

Thursday night, the Friends of Silver Street Elementary committee talked to the Silver Grove Neighborhood Association about their concerns.

“We’ve been working hard to rally support and get our word out there,” Kathy Ayres, who organized Friends of Silver Street, told the room of about 20 people in Advent Christian Church’s basement. “We need all the support we can get.”

That’s because recently leaked documents from inside Resources for Results committee meetings show the group is considering the school and others for closure. That committee, which was started by New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated Schools Corp.

Superintendent Dennis Brooks, was started two years ago to look at what can be done to better utilize the corporation’s resources.

Brooks said the group is expected to come up with some detailed options to present to the community in September for input. The group is expected to give its final recommendations to the school board in October.

Ayres is scared none of those recommendations will include the one thing she wants: to keep Silver Street open.

Those at the meeting said they will help Ayres fight for the school.

“We’ve been up this road twice now and I think they (school administrators) have the feeling that the third time’s a charm,” said Jay Papp, president of the neighborhood association. “Well, we’re not going to sit back and let them do this.”

Seventy-year-old Betty Saulmon plans on making calls to gain support, delivering yard signs and helping with the petition. The school means a lot to Saulmon, who has had many relatives complete their elementary education there and a few that attend now

Last year, she said she asked Brooks at the school’s 90th anniversary celebration if rumors of closing the school were true.

“He said, you can rest assured there are no plans to close Silver Street school,” Saulmon said. “It seems like I laid my head down, resting assured it would be open, and woke up a few months later and found out that it might not be.”

Residents voiced concerns at the meeting about what would happen if the school were to close. Many said they were worried about sending their children to lesser-performing schools, property values going down and the atmosphere of the neighborhood changing.

“I moved here for that specific reason, that my daughter would attend Silver Street,” 39-year-old Penny Long said. “(I’m ready to do) anything, because I don’t want her to go anywhere else and I want to stay living where I’m living.”

Many residents are stepping up by giving their time. Others are donating to the cause. A business has even donated enough money to help get yard signs created. The group hopes that more businesses will follow suit.

Now, supporters will work on posting signs that say “Save Silver Street,” writing letters to school board members and other elected officials and getting more donations.

The group already has spread to the Uptown Neighborhood Association, where Ayres spoke at a previous meeting. Ayres also is working on developing Glenwood’s association to garner more support.

Friends of Silver Street’s next meeting is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Advent Christian Church, 2129 Shelby St., in New Albany.



Resources for Results proposed timeline

• June-July: further detailing of options and reviews by curriculum, transportation and finance offices

• August: final review by committee

• September: public meetings

• October: completion and submission of report to superintendent and school board





READ ALL ABOUT IT

• Go to www.newsandtribune.com to read more about the committee and to also read meeting notes given to The Tribune by committee members.