Why is the South school board so eager to close Waveland?
Monday, November 18, 2013 9:00 AM
Recently, I missed an important meeting, one important to me and the community I love. This was what I personally refer to as "the rush-job-to-fold-up towns!" I really can't deal with stress, plus I didn't know about the get-together until too late but I've heard a great deal about it and seen the presentation that was given the night of the meeting.
First of all, the title of the Power Point is: "South Montgomery Schools: Doing What's Best for Kids." After reading over the presentation and looking again at the title, I had to laugh. It is never good for kids to close a perfectly good school with fabulous teachers, high test scores and excellent buildings. Come on board members, look for a different plan if you want to do what's best for the students.
Now, I'm not the best with figures, but these seemed to be lumped together over a long period of time but presented as if it is all pertinent immediately. Enrollment seems to be one of the big pushers to close South district schools. The decline of students was only predicted. Yes, there has been an overall decline over 15 years, but how can a continued one really be forecast ?
Also, Waveland which is projected to close in five of the six scenarios on the Power Point was the only school with an increase of students this year. Besides, smaller schools rock, I know, I taught 21 years in a tiny high school. They provide more one-on-one help, life-long friends, and fabulous learning in almost every case. No one gets lost in the shuffle as with larger schools.
The scenarios presented seem to definitely point to closing Waveland. Why would you close the newest and the cheapest to run? Why close a school in a town? We can name in Montgomery County alone way too many towns (Alamo; Mace; Browns Valley and more) destroyed due to a school closing (isn't that cutting your own throat - destroy the town and no one wants to raise their children where there's no school, park, businesses ...)?
Scenario No. 3 was to have one large elementary building - how idiotic is that? Pile all the kids into one spot? Have you ever been in an overcrowded school at bell time? It's an absolute chaotic mess. It brews fights, late students and multiple problems. Along with this idea was to put the sixth graders with the Junior High. Bad idea! Eighth graders have attitudes (with exceptions of course) and hormones (with few exceptions). I've witnessed eighth grade boys prey on innocent sixth grade girls and it's a sad occurrence. It'll happen! Sixth graders are overall still children. Eighth graders have way too mature of thoughts to be mixed with the younger crowd. Plus, the real reason would be, why mess with trying to sell four buildings, three of which are perfectly good ones, and spend a million building another? The board predicted a saving of $713,000 but I saw no figures supporting that. The real problem here is $713,000 saved is not compared to the price of building a new school and perhaps having the responsibility of the old ones for who knows how many years? Have board members thought of the long bus rides for students having to go to school not in their communities, the extra hours spent with older students?
Are there other possibilities? If the schools have too few students, there must be rooms that could be closed off. How about volunteers for smaller part time jobs? Team teaching? Combine fifth and sixth graders? There are so many options.
One of the scenarios was to have one primary building (New Market) and one intermediate building (to be built) and with that it was projected with reduction of principal, teacher consolidations, custodians - there would be a $543,000 savings? Again, it was just told, not broken down to see the real picture. Besides, there will be the same number of students so pretty much the same number of teachers would be needed, perhaps one or two could be cut, or, again, just wait until one retires and don't replace them which is what Turkey Run has done for years.
The whole idea of closing schools sounds just like our current government - hurry up and get it done and think of the consequences later. Silly, silly! Why the rush? A task this monumental needs a referendum. My husband and I are on a very fixed income, both working although retired, but I'd go get another job if I thought a 10 cent on the dollar tax raise would save the school. I encourage you to attend the meetings coming up as the board wants to make the decision in December. Meetings are 6 p.m. Nov. 19 at Walnut or 6 p.m. Nov. 26 at Ladoga.
So, the reason again is a 370 student drop which is over 14 years - divide that, it's not that many per year. My old school, Turkey Run was always in the black because the school board, superintendent and teachers were always doing their homework. Not replacing retiring teachers covers much of that cost; thus keeping schools open - and that would be doing what's best for kids!