Parents of Virginia Shuman Young Montessori fight to save school – NBC 6 South Florida

Parents of Virginia Shuman Young Montessori fight to save school – NBC 6 South Florida

When deciding which schools to close or repurpose, Broward County Public Schools is guaranteed to make some people angry. An example of this is the proposal to turn a popular Montessori school, a magnet to Fort Lauderdale, into a neighborhood school.

They call it VSY, Virginia Shuman Young Elementary in Victoria Park. It’s an “A” school, operating at almost full capacity, so parents there can’t believe the school district is considering turning the school around.

“I was shocked, upset and admittedly a little angry at first,” said Sean Goldstein, a VSY parent, describing his reaction when he heard about the plan.

“So for VSY, specifically for this school, we moved from Coral Gables to Fort Lauderdale,” said Michelle Hearne, another VSY parent. “So when I hear the news, no bueno, not happy at all.”

A proposal to turn a popular Montessori school, a Fort Lauderdale magnet, into a neighborhood school has sparked controversy. NBC6’s Ari Odzer reports this

The proposal would move the Montessori magnet program to Bennet Elementary School, a mile north, which is currently under-enrolled. VSY would become a neighborhood border school.

“I’m hearing overwhelmingly from my constituents that they are against it,” said school board member Sarah Leonardi, who represents the Victoria Park area.

NBC6 asked her if this seemed like a case of something not being broken and therefore not needing to be fixed.

“I mean, that’s what I hear over and over again, right? As if this is a high-performing school and there is no enrollment problem, why would we turn upside down a school that has been like a beacon in Broward County Public Schools?” Leonardi said.

The VSY parents said the district should replicate the Montessori magnet, not move it.

“It really underestimates everything that goes into creating a successful school community. You really can’t just pick it up and put it somewhere else and think it’s going to stay intact,” said Erin Gohl, president of the PTA at VSY.

Those in favor of the proposal say it will give more neighborhood children, left out by the magnet lottery system, the opportunity to attend VSY.

“There is absolutely no demand for it from the community,” said Sean Goldstein, noting that he moved his family to the neighborhood 18 months ago and had no problem getting his son into the Montessori program because the school has 150 reserves places for local children. .

Chief Inspector Dr. Howard Hepburn told NBC6 on Monday that nothing has been decided yet and the school district is still holding town hall meetings to get input from parents and the public.

About 200 parents and community members made their voices heard against the district’s plan for VSY at the fourth scheduled town hall Monday evening.

“For them to even think they can just move the program to another building and call it the same thing is insulting,” said Destini Foster, whose three-year-old attends VSY. She is considering taking her daughter out of school if the plan goes ahead.

The proposal is part of the district’s plan to repurpose under-enrolled schools by changing their grade levels, combining them with another school or closing them. Right now, there are about 50,000 empty seats across the district.

The initial goal was to repurpose at least five schools. A second plan discussed was to close 42 schools and move all school boundaries. But that was not recommended by Hepburn and also rejected by parents.