Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Long-Term Strategy Needed to Preserve Norwood School

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Long-Term Strategy Needed to Preserve Norwood School

Article excerpt

So the Duval County School Board decided not to pull the life support on Norwood Elementary School after all.

But the parents who pleaded for its life shouldn't bask in their victory. They ought to be thinking about what to do come next time.

Because there will be a next time.

For about five years now, the school system has been trying to close Norwood. The school, which will be 75 years old next month, is nestled just north of Gateway Marketplace. It is perhaps one of the last original landmarks left in an area that once teemed with shoppers but now struggles with blight; an area where theaters that once packed people in for Super Fly and Billy Jack matinees are now hard-pressed to pack in enough merchants to fill its spaces.

But through it all, Norwood has remained. Parents who learned to read from its primers, who scrawled their first cursive letters on its chalkboards, are now sending their children there. They haven't outgrown the school, or for that matter, the neighborhood.

All of that generates a family atmosphere. What it doesn't generate, though, is money.

Norwood has only 164 students. This means that each year the school system has to pump thousands into its anemic budget to supplement the state's per pupil allotment. That's the only way small schools like Norwood keep their doors open.

But last week, that door was almost shut. What saved it was what saved it three years ago; pleas by parents who believe that their passion for a school ought to be enough to keep it open at any cost.

It worked. But next time, they might not be so lucky.

To keep Norwood alive, parents in that area are going to have to do more than react. They're going to have to plan. They're going to have to channel their passion for saving that school into a strategy for saving their community.

One place to start might be with HabiJax. …

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