Opposed to the JJ/PR reconfiguration
The following is a long list of concerns that have been brought up over the last month about the JJ/PR reconfiguration that if passed will take place the 2017/2018 school year. If you share these concerns or have your own, please sign the petition and/or feel free to leave a comment.
Reasons for the reconfiguration and concerns about each:
1. 6th grade test scores drop considerably
Research shows that 6th grade test scores drop markedly EVERYWHERE in the US where 6th grade is in a 6-8 model, regardless of how many schools are feeding into it. We are taking young children who a mere 3 months ago were on the top of the totem pole, being educated in a whimsical family-friendly environment and putting them into a hormonally charged, socially competitive environment where they are on the bottom of the totem pole. The research actually shows benefit to a K-8 model. It would seem that 3 transitions in those 9 years would actually be detrimental.
If 6th grade scores are dropping considerably after the transition into middle school, will not the same thing now happen to our 3rd graders? They too would be going from the top of the totem pole to the bottom, learning a whole new building, staff, and routine right before they take testing to determine if they can go on to 4th grade.
2. There is a divide between the two elementary schools that causes problems in middle school
If there is a divide then lets work on it from a parent/school level without changing the entire model. We could start in 3rd grade mingling the kids 1-2 times a year. Do lock-ins for the 4th and 5th graders, joint field days, joint festivals and fundraisers where we can go out as “Charlestown” together. With a little effort I think we can improve this issue without this drastic change
JJ offers teacher a teacher request system. It is supposed to be used for emotional or educational reasons only. It is primarily used to keep friends together. If this teacher request is done away with and children are intermingled every year with 20 new kids, it will help disperse this “super-clique” of kids who have been in the same classroom with each other since kindergarten and reduce this problem.
I believe a division inside the school would be heightened due to A and B sports teams and the competition that would now be “inter-school”.
With near 200 students in each grade level, they will never have lunch, recess, or field trips together. Grade-level teacher will not be able to personally get to know all 200 kids. Right now both of those things happen at both schools and that is a VERY positive thing.
3. This needs to be done to eliminate future redistricting based on the growth of Charlestown.
Growth in Charlestown is coming and is an amazing thing! However by the time this growth effects the need to redistrict, won’t we be overcrowded? Will a bigger school be needed? If this is the case lets wait 3-5 years and make the change then instead of making this change now and AGAIN in 3-5 years.
4. This would improve the stability for the children who have “life-events” that cause them to have to switch elementary schools mid-year
All families have “life-events”. That is an issue that each family deals with and accepts. If you move you have to change schools. That is a fact. Why make 98% of your population change for this 2%? Why take away the stability of 6 years with the same teachers and staff?
5. We are not fixing a problem but let’s make something great, greater.
What is “greater” than the sense of family that is fostered in a school where kids go for six years? When you have third, fourth, and fifth graders paying up to 100 pride bucks just to go back to their kindergarten and first grade classrooms and read for that teacher that has fostered them, watched their growth, continues to pour into them, and still loves them, THIS IS HUGE FOR THEM!!! There's also a very special relationship that gets formed with the special area teachers who have each child for SIX YEARS!! When you have 4th and 5th grade boys and girls going through some embarrassing changes and they feel comfortable going to the nurse because she is the one who put bandaids on their knees in kindergarten, that is special. For some of our kids this is the most stability in people who care for them they will ever experience.
6. Transportation will not be a problem
For who? The administration who is making this decision does not have to sit in car-rider line an hour a day to drop off and pick up their children. We want to add more time to that for multiple families who will have children in each building? Oh and BTW, a lot of those car-rider kids are such because they don’t live in our district but choose to sent their kids there.
7. This is the way it was set up years ago and everyone liked it.
It was set up that way because both schools were on the same campus. It was changed when PR was built across town because that made sense then, why does it not make sense now?
When a new school was on the referendum there was almost total support for a K-2, 3-5 reconfiguration because we would all want every kid in Charlestown to experience the new school.
Problems that are not related to any benefit:
1.Volunteering and being involved will be very difficult under this new model for parents that have kiddos in each school. At this young of an age you are forcing some people to choose which of their children they will have lunch with, which classroom they will volunteer in.
2. Parent volunteers and fundraising go way down in 3rd-5th grades because a lot of these kids are involved in extra-curricular activities.
3. A one 6 member PTO for both schools would be a full time job for those 6 members.
4. Interaction between the upper and lower grade levels such as reading buddies is being taken away
5. Dr Melin assured everyone that the staffing ratios would not change, citing that the average classroom size is 25. JJ and PR have multiple classrooms sitting at 30+ students per teacher. Perhaps this is where our focus needs to be?
6. The loss of having siblings in the same school, teachers and staff pour love into our kids for 6 consecutive years, older kids to be role models and younger kids to come back and read to, that cannot be replaced or fostered under the new model.