‘Excellence in Education’ requires proper support
To the Editor:
Yes that is right, “Excellence in Education” is the East Grand School District’s motto.
It is printed on every letterhead, every plaque, displayed at each school and the district office, it is the top line on the Web site.
The school district promotes it and the community should accept nothing less.
However, words are just words if their meanings go ignored or unsupported.
The school district is trying to do the right thing with this current bond issue.
“Excellence in Education” can’t just happen by chance; it has to be part of a plan. That is what ballot issue 3A is all about.
Our lovely little community is not staying so little anymore. To put it bluntly, we are outgrowing our school buildings. Many of our parents have been hounding our school board to become proactive in dealing with this growth. One of the recurring problems is there are no available classrooms. Even if they could find the money for extra teachers in some cases there are simply no rooms to put them in.
In attempting to deal with this they have had to become very creative. Here are a few examples:
-At the Fraser Elementary school they moved the music classroom to the back of the stage to make room for a third kindergarten room last year. This year they have combined a 1st and 2nd grade into one class. Thanks to the generous support from the town of Winter Park, there is now temporary use of a mobile unit containing two classrooms located in the parking lot.
-At Granby Elementary School they have such an overcrowding problem they have moved the 5th-graders into the Middle School to open up two classrooms. It turns out they needed four. Two years ago they had to disrupt two classes and split them into three in the middle of the school year, and put one in an overcrowded planning room.
The lunchroom is so packed, I witnessed, some precious third-grade girls come before the school board requesting permission to talk quietly during their lunch break. No talking was allowed because it was so overcrowded simply talking created overwhelming noise. This year they still need more classrooms even with the 5th graders attending the Middle School.
-Based on current projections the middle school will only have room for the 5th-graders for two more years. Then they will have to be sent back to the elementary schools where there is already no room for them.
-The High School is facing the same growth problems now in 2007. There is no chance it will have room for all the extra children moving up from the lower schools in the next five years.
-If we pass this bond now we will have two elementary schools with enough classrooms to have three classes of each grade – kindergarten through fifth. That is as large as some experts suggest a school can operate. Our middle school will have enough space if the fifth graders are moved back to the elementary schools. The high school will be enlarged to help prepare for students moving up through the system.
-I have lived in the county for about 25 years and I started attending many of the school board meetings mostly because I am a parent of three children in the school district. Now after attending so many meetings I understand it would be just as important to attend even if I had no children in the system. Trust me when I tell you decisions made at these meetings will have an effect on our community not just on our children of the community.
-At the meeting where the school board was debating the exact dollar amount of the bond, the unpaid, school board members deliberate over dollars and cents in an attempt to save taxpayers money.
The end result they reduced the size of the bond, eliminated some improvements, and cut back on some additional expenses to reduce the amount by about $700,000. This hurt as I watched them cut item after item to make it more appealing to the public. They were determined to save us as much as they could. That $700,000 savings only represented about 3 percent of the total requested, yet they were willing to make those sacrifices to make 3A more appealing.
-If we pass 3A and build the infrastructures now it will be possible to add on additional teachers, as they are needed. If we don’t build them now we will not be able to hire additional teachers because there will be no rooms to put them in.
Some could argue that overcrowded schools and crammed classrooms are acceptable. To me it is self-defeating to assume school overcrowding is acceptable when we should be striving for exceptional.
After all, we are pursuing “Excellence in Education.” To achieve this we need to pass 3A.
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