The Des Moines school board has a big decision to make: whether or not to close Gateway Middle School. Gateway is an International Baccalaureate, or IB, world school.
Parents have seen Gateway make a difference in their kids.
“We are giving our opportunity to learn worldly,” said Theresa Roberts.
“Usually 7th grade boys when you pick them up from school and you say what`d you do in school today? The response is nothing. And instead my son talks about what he does in school and I think a lot of that has to go with engagement and also with IB he`s applying what he`s learning,” said Barb Watson.
Many parents have called, emailed and met with school board members to stress how important they think it is to keep the school open. Parents explained even though Gateway is one of 11 Des Moines schools using the IB curriculum, what makes Gateway unique is that it’s a "middle year’s program" covering grades 6-10.
But not all parents think closing the school would be a bad move. “Gateway, being that it’s housed inside Central Campus, cannot grow. It can’t grow because it doesn`t have the space. It can’t grow because we can only allow so many children there,” said Roberts.
Theresa Roberts says closing Gateway would open up new opportunities for more students at other bigger schools, like Brody Middle School for example. Roberts explained that closing Gateway wouldn’t mean the school was failure. Roberts said Gateway paved the road for the program, but now it's time to move on.
“I asked for this school. I didn’t ask for Gateway, I asked for a continuous education program so it’s weird that I sit here now and say I encourage the school board to close it,” said Roberts.
But other parents, like Watson said it’s too soon to close the school, “this is a good model that should be looked at long term to see if this is a better model for middle school children in Des Moines, and if the school is closed in just three years, we`re not going to know.”
School board members said they have been getting a lot of input regarding Tuesday’s decision. Board member Dick Murphy says they've received pictures, emails, phone calls, and even expensive advertising pieces designed in support of Gateway.