Plan to close Moore Mickens not a dead issue
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning called off his plan to shut down Moore Mickens Education Center amid rising opposition among students, staff and community members.
"The juice isn't worth the squeeze," Browning later said, explaining that the proposal was more about saving money than improving the education programs for students at the school. "It was a budget cutting issue."
But the superintendent's withdrawal of the recommendation is far from off the table. The problems associated with Moore Mickens, from asbestos in the buildings to increased rail traffic just outside the door, are not disappearing and must be dealt with, he said.
"What concerns me is that Moore Mickens will die a slow death the way it is now," assistant superintendent Ray Gadd wrote in a recent email. "The trains really are going to be a problem. Billy Poe tells me 25 to 30 a day. So, we can't justify growing the facility. It is also asbestos ridden and every time we do something there I have to have hazmat procedures in place."
The move, Browning said, "would have been in the best interest of students."
He suggested that with a year to consult with school and community leaders, the district can arrive at a plan that preserves the historic aspects of Moore Mickens while also cutting costs and providing more academic options. The conversation has already begun.
"Some of our discussion were around turning admin into a black history museum that could be used by schools, the cafeteria training and events center and keep media and work on a public private public partnership. It could be Moore Mickens Education and Training Center and we also talked about naming next school in area after Moore Mickens," Gadd wrote in his email to retired administrator Mary Giella. "But as you know the building structure itself is very important to the black community. I sincerely want to maintain and honor the black heritage of that community but if we don't come to consensus it will eventually just deteriorate."
What do you think the district should do with Moore Mickens, keeping in mind the concerns the superintendent has raised?