More than 450 persons filled the auditorium of Thomas Jefferson Intermediate School for a public hearing last night, most of them opposing school closings being considered by the Arlington School Board.
It was the second public hearing this week on a report on school closings prepared by Superintendent Charles E. Nunley. School officials are considering closing as many as six schools throughout the county at the end of the 1983-84 school year because of overall declining enrollment.
Last night parents contested the need to shut down any schools. "Don't close what ain't broke," said one parent, Robert Gallagher.
Parents representing Reed, Tuckahoe, Barcroft, Nottingham and Patrick Henry elementary schools and Swanson and Jefferson intermediate schools said leaving the facilities open would limit busing and preserve neighborhood schools. Board member Claude Hilton said he had not heard that parents wanted to keep all schools open until this week's hearings: "I'm not trying to impose anything on the community," he said.
A number of parents, wearing large name tags identifying the schools represented, complained about the late availability of the report and criticized its content, saying it lacked reasons for some suggested closings. "It's an embarrassment to the community.. that lacks sensitivity to educational priorities," said Edward McWethy, father of a Jefferson seventh grader. Others criticized the superintendent's suggestion that some buildings be closed partly because of their marketability and then leased. "Are we trying to sell education or buildings?" said a parent, Pete Davis.
The board is scheduled to make a decision on school closings in May.