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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Open Letter to Dr. Scott

Dear Dr. Scott,

So, I'm pretty sure you are aware that many of the parents in our community are a bit up in arms about this proposed change in the 9th grade campus and the Senior high school.  I, too, have some concerns.  The thing is, I think had this all been presented a bit differently, the reaction may have been better.  The bottom line is, all of us are getting bits and pieces of information but nothing solid.  Your teachers don't even know what's going on.  That is not a slight on them - it's a sad showing of how little they are thought of.  Why is it that when this proposed change was announced, the teachers were not informed?  Do you realize what a terrible position they were put in?

I'm having a hard time with this decision on multiple levels - now this could be because all I have heard are rumors.  I also admit I have not yet attended a board meeting (rest assured, that is going to change).  My limited understanding is that you want to move the 9th graders into the senior high school with the 10th and 11th graders and move the 12th graders into the 9th grade campus making it a "middle college."  Is this correct?  I also read in an article that moving the seniors into the 9th grade campus and encouraging them to take classes at community colleges instead of actually in the 9th grade campus AND by encouraging them to take online courses at home that this could potentially save the district arond $500,000.  Is this also correct? While I am incredibly happy that the district is looking to find ways to better prepare our kids for college, I can assure you, during their senior year of high school, I do not want my children sitting at home taking online courses. 

Now, I understand trying to save money because of this deficit.  I did not initially understand how moving kids into different schools could help.  I started to see it more clearly when I read that the seniors would be encouraged to take classes elsewhere.  It was at that point when I began to get a bit frustrated.  We moved into this district so our kids could attend school in Holt.  We did not move into the district so that our kids could sit at home and take online courses. 

I also read that by moving the seniors to the 9th grade campus, it would allow room for 54 more schools of choice students.  I don't have a problem with SOC.  We started in this district as SOC.  My issue here is twofold.  First, that's great that you will be able to house 54 more students, but what happens when that class is in 12th grade?  When you move them back to the 9th grade campus (that can barely hold the current 9th grade class).  What happens if the students choose to remain in the classrooms and NOT at home doing online classes or at local community colleges?  Haven't you just made the situation worse?

Secondly, and probably far more important to me, what about the current students?  What about the kids ALREADY ATTENDING HOLT?  I'm referring to both the kids who live in the district and the current SOC kids. You're planning on jam packing their classes even more?  So, who exactly does this benefit?  Obviously, the district gets more money.  What do the students get?  What do the teachers get?  Bigger classes = better education?  Pretty sure the studies I have read do not say bigger is better.  Just sayin'.

Now, I obviously don't see your budget or have any idea what it looks like.  I certainly don't want to see you have to cut programs - especially not those typically cut first (athletics and music), but have you talked to the teachers?  Have you asked if they have any thoughts?  I'm sure you must have spoken with someone.  There must have been some sort of focus group involved in this proposal.  Have you talked to the community?  Are you actually asking the community for input or just nodding your head without really listening?  Please understand, I'm not accusing, just asking. I guess I'm just finding it hard to understand how this benefits my kids - and their friends...the kids already here.

Recently, (within the past few days) I have heard you are also considering making the high school open campus for lunch.  I can assure you, if that does happen, my children will no longer attend school in this district.  I'm going to assume that you have also spoken with focus groups about this as well.  Have you any experience with open campus lunch?  I know a few people who had open campus lunches when they were in school.  Those same people admittedly went home and got high or drank and then either went back to school drunk or high or didn't go back to school at all.  Now, I realize part of this is a parenting issue, but why even give the kids the opportunity.  Aren't we, as a community, responsible for doing the best we can for these kids?  Including not putting them in questionable situations (which is how I see this)?  Nevermind the risk with the driving - although, I will give you that there is no data about open campus schools having a higher accident rate. 

The open campus issue raises the same questions for me as switching the seniors and freshman.  How is this benefiting our kids?  What is this doing to promote academics?  How is this better?  I think, as a parent and a community member, these are questions that should be answered along with a LONG list of other questions before such big decisions can be made.  I also think that these questions need to be answered so that the community is aware of what is going on instead of all of us just hearing things "through the grapevine" as we have been. 

Sincerely,

A Concerned Parent

2 comments:

  1. Jamie, YOU ROCK!!! As always, well said!!! Great job!!

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  2. Well, said. Having grown up in a situation where this thing happens all the time and the staff is the last to know. You see why teachers get frustrated. It is also why they don't stay.
    The bottom line here is money NOT education. And this from one of the richest districts in the state.

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