May 24 — 12:00 am, 2007

Germantown middle school faces closure this year

A leaking roof and other costly repairs, as well as declining enrollment, could lead to the closing of the Ada H. Lewis Middle School in East Germantown. But parents who want to keep the school open promise to put up a fight.

District CEO Paul Vallas said the school “definitely” needs to be shut down after this school year. When this year’s eighth-grade students graduate in June, the 220-student body will be down to 70 students.

“It will cost $27 million to renovate it, it’s got multiple cracks in the foundation, those walls are going to come down eventually,” Vallas said of Lewis, adding that utility bills are high.

The School District’s five-year plan projects closing 22 schools to save money. Those schools have not been named publicly.

Home and School President Arenda Bethel, whose son is a seventh-grader at Lewis, acknowledges the building does need work. Even so, she and other parents want to find a way to keep Lewis open or, at the very least keep the last 70 students together at another school for eighth grade. Parents argue that they did not get enough notice about the hearings on the closings and that nothing was sent home telling them that the school faced possible closure.

A District spokesman said the District followed proper meeting notification procedures. Vallas said the District would work with parents to find proper placements for the students at other schools.

Parents are concerned about their children being sent to Roosevelt Middle School because of a student rivalry, Bethel said.

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