Stephanie Marston 0

Keep Renaissance at HLS the SAME

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In the last month we have discovered (through social media) that DVUSD will be decreasing the staff for the Renaissance Music Gifted Academy at Highland Lake School due to lower enrollment numbers. Decreasing the staff is cause for many concerns for the program, students, and staff at Highland Lakes. By signing this petition, you are stating that you support keeping the HLS Renaissance Middle School staff at four teachers and encourage DVUSD not to decrease our staff.

Let's look at the numbers.

  • 2016-2017 Enrollment
    • All grades 193, 196 if you count Bright Child
    • 7th Grade 33
    • 8th grade 38
  • 2017-2018 Enrollment
    • All Grades 174, 196 if you count 22 Bright Child
    • 7th Grade 27
    • 8th Grade 33
  • 2018-2019 Enrollment as of March 2018
    • 7th Grade 28
    • 8th Grade 27

There will be a decrease in 7th and 8th grade enrollment of 5 students next year.

Let's look at some parent concerns regarding this decision.

  • DVUSD has tried to make this change without notifying the parents.
  • We are losing a teacher, and have not been given information on how this will change the team teaching model for the program for next school year.
  • Due to how the program works, we are only able to add to enrollment during the 1st quarter of the year. This along with the fact that DVUSD has not made enough of an effort to increase numbers in the last two years is cause for concern. The lack of effort and resources available to put towards this issue, should not directly impact our children or the program.
  • Mrs. Snyder is a valuable resource to all students at HLS. Her experience, knowledge, work ethic, is not something that can be replicated or replaced. We should be making efforts to get 5 or more students enrolled in the program rather than trying to remove a teacher. She makes a difference and we have student and parent testimonies to back this up.
  • Mrs. Snyder currently teaches our 7th and 8th grade Renaissance students but she also is the sponsor for Student Council, NJHS, Student Summit, After School Homework Club, and the Track and Field Team. There is not enough time left in this school year to transition these responsibilities to another staff member, if there is even a staff member who would take these on. This leaves a huge gap in the 18-19 school year before it has even started.
  • When the numbers do increase, we would have lost this teacher and all that goes along with her. We will have an overcrowded classroom which will be supplemented with a temporary aide instead of a certified teacher. There is a teacher crisis, talent and experience like this is not readily available. The teacher salary issues at DVUSD make it almost impossible to find a comparable replacement.
  • Enrollment numbers are the only aspect that is being looked at. These students can be difficult to teach and require more resources to handle the unique personalities and their diverse learning personalities.

Let's look at some of the reasons our program needs to stay the same. The staff and team teaching model we have in place WORKS. This is evident by our student success. This is just a small list.

  • 11 Students with perfect scores on AZ Merit. As a matter of fact, our Renaissance students consistently score higher on the AZ Standardized tests than any other group in all of Arizona.
  • District Spelling Bee Winners, year after year.
  • Rubik's Cube Team won the fastest time at the State Rubik's Cube Competition year after year.
  • Three time District Battle of the Books Winners
  • Our Middle School Ensemble received a Superior rating at Solo and Ensemble, and does so every year.
  • Our Math Team won 2nd at the Math Counts competition for their chapter and 4th at State.
  • Robotics Team placing 14th last year and 9th this year, and earned a spot at regionals.
  • We have students win at the Arizona State Science and Engineering Fair each year, this year included 3.

Let's look at some of the steps we as parents have taken since we have found out about this issue just a few short weeks ago.

  • We have written numerous letters to DVUSD and were able to reduce the teachers being cut from two to one. We are happy for this, but we want BOTH of our teachers.
  • We have put a Renaissance Parent Liaison in place to help promote the program.
  • We have scheduled an open house in April 2018 to increase enrollment. This will include new promotional materials, current and former students giving tours, and will be advertised.
  • We have dedicated financial resources to advertising to increase enrollment.
  • We have made changes to areas online to make information easier to access, and have plans to make further changes.

Please feel free to sign, add your testimony and concerns. Thank you for your time and support.

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