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The decision to close down a school permanently is painful all by itself.

By Kym Reinstadler, SCN Feature Writer | Expert Insights

And then you must begin to tip-toe through an emotionally charged PR “minefield.”

PE7A0061There’s no doubt about it.

In the life of every school leader and communicator some of the worst days on the job involve the slow build-up to a permanent school closure – and then the immediate let-down that follows.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to fall to your knees in prayers of thanksgiving later if you skirted your way through the minefield without something blowing up.

School closures are rife with conflict because school employees will criticize the decision, community leaders will make late-to-the-table pitches to explore alternatives, and neighborhoods will mourn the loss of a school as a breakdown in social infrastructure.

And there’s usually an outcry from alumni. Even if they haven’t driven by the school in decades, some will feel like their history is being wiped out if the building is closed, repurposed or demolished.

People will rail against the decision-making process – and who can blame them? Seldom is there policy or protocol for making the decision. School boards don’t have to include students, parents, community leaders, neighbors or alumni in deliberations.

Boards may hold stakeholder meetings before closing the school, but it usually feels like one-way communication to those who show up. Rarely is it open engagement over public policy.

Closing a school. Forever.
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