D.C. school superintendent Floretta D. McKenzie was sharply criticized at a school board committee meeting yesterday by members who complained that she had not been fair in selecting the 12 city schools that she recommended be closed next September.
The board's building and grounds committee, however, postponed taking action on the superintendent's recommendations until a Saturday morning meeting at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School at Columbia Road and Georgia Avenue NW.
Three board members, R. Calvin Lockridge (Ward 8), Bettie G. Benjamin (Ward 5) and John E. Warren (Ward 6), who represent wards in which schools are slated to be closed, said the superintendent had failed to include on her list for closing several schools that have low enrollments.
Benjamin, who noted that no schools in affluent and predominantly white Ward 3 were included in the list of 12, asked McKenzie: "Why is it small is not good for Woodridge, small is not good for Hamilton, yet in other parts of the city small is good?" Woodridge elementary at Carlton and Central Avenues NE, and Hamilton Junior High School at Sixth Street and Brentwood Parkway NE, are two Ward 5 schools that McKenzie would close.
During the 2 1/2-hour meeting with the superintendent, board member Eugene Kinlow (At-Large) requested that the superintendent add more schools to her list that appear to fit the criteria the board had set to determine which schools should be closed. That criteria included a school's enrollment in relation to its capacity for students, its age, state of repair and proximity to other schools.
Benjamin also noted that enrollment figures in the superintendent's report for some of the schools in Ward 5 were not accurate, and requested that the superintendent re-examine the totals.
McKenzie agreed to be "flexible" in adding schools to her list of recommendations.
Several board members, including Lockridge, Benjamin, Warren, Linda W. Cropp (Ward 4) and R. David Hall (Ward 2), told the superintendent that they would prefer that the school system lease unused space in the listed schools rather than shut them down.