WHAT A DIFFERENCE a tour makes.
Parents from the G.W. Childs School toured the renovated fourth floor at Barratt Middle School yesterday and several were impressed.
"It's better than Childs," Anh Luu, the grandmother of an 8-year-old girl attending Childs, said with the help of a school district Vietnamese translator.
Luu was among a small group of parents on an hour-long tour of Barratt, at 16th and Wharton streets. They saw a fourth floor with new ceiling lights, sparkling hallway floors and freshly painted classroom walls.
District officials said the same renovations will be made to the rest of the building this summer.
"I'm not going to deny it will be a nice space," said Kim Smith, president of the Childs parent council. "I think the program will be a success if everyone goes with a positive attitude and everyone sticks together."
Parents are expected to discuss the move to Barratt at a public hearing after today's School Reform Commission meeting.
It's unclear whether they will still demand a new school be built for their children, as some said they would earlier this month.
Yesterday was the second tour for parents of children attending Childs, at 17th and Tasker streets.
A week ago, many Childs parents were upset about the "last-minute" notice in late April that the school district was closing Childs next month and that pupils, teachers and administration would share the Barratt building next September.
District officials said Childs has extensive roof and other problems that are too expensive to repair. The plan calls for putting the building up for sale.
A number of parents also were worried about the move because of a long history of alleged bullying by Barratt students.
After phasing out middle schools in recent years, there are only seventh- and eighth-graders at Barratt this year, and only 90 Barratt eighth-graders will remain next year.
The district intends to operate Barratt as a separate school, with its own principal, on the fourth floor.
The Childs school, with some 600 pupils, will be housed on the first three floors, with its own principal.
Childs pupils will enter from Wharton Street, and Barratt pupils will use a Latona Street entrance. Each school will have separate, staggered opening and dismissal times to keep the two student groups apart.
But yesterday, Smith, the Childs parent leader, said she would tell the School Reform Commission today that it should not separate the schools after all.
"I think they should put the Childs seventh- and eighth-graders together with the Barratt eighth-graders on the fourth floor next year and make it work as one school," Smith said.
Another Childs parent said the relocation will work only if Childs principal Alphonso Evans makes the move with pupils and teachers next year.
"We have a good principal and if he doesn't come, it's going to be chaos," said Judy Walston, mother of a Childs eighth-grader. "The kids trust him."
But Walston said parents are worried that Evans is being recruited by other schools. Evans conceded he has job offers and declined to say whether he will remain with Childs at least for the first year of the transition.