Sometime in May, I received a phone-call from the PTA President at Stevie’s Elementary School asking if I’d run for President of the PTA for the following year. After some thought, I agreed.
As it turns out, there was no ‘running’ involved.
In addition to that, there was no one else interested in the job. I am an organizer by nature and just knew this job of conducting six meetings and overseeing fundraising efforts at the school would be right up my proverbial alley.
It just so happens that two weeks after school started, our school board announced that a neighboring elementary school with chronic flooding problems will close at the end of this school year and those students will be sent to our school. Furthermore, (because there is always a furthermore when you are dealing with the school board) because of over-crowding issues, all fifth-grade students in our area will be moved to the Middle School which currently houses 6th -8th grades. All other 5th graders in the county will remain in elementary schools.
Lucky for me, I’m the PTA President this year.
As you can imagine, this PTA gig is turning out to be way more than I bargained for.
I have yielded phone-calls and e-mails, I’ve met with school administration about how best to fight, I’ve being told a fight will be useless because the “proposal” is a actually a done deal, and just last night, I sat in my big, blue, bloggy chair composing a letter to the editor and school board members. While composing that letter, I received a phone call from another concerned parent. He has asked that I file a freedom of information act regarding discipline problems at the middle school. You know, because I know all about freedom of information acts.
Like I said, I’ve learned a lot. And learning is good. No matter what the circumstance.
I’m willing to fight.
I’m willing to write.
Because I am nothing if not willing.
The good news is, this situation makes for some good blog fodder.
Here’s a sampling of what I’ve learned….
1. The school-board can pretty much do anything they want.
2. Once the school-board does what it wants, they will expect parents to immediately embrace their hair-brained ideas no matter how ridiculous they are.
3. A “proposal” really means a proposed “done-deal” when you are dealing with the school board.
4. Some parents will say anything at a School Board meeting.
5. There is a certain Board member in our county who sees nothing wrong with sleeping at a public hearing.
6. If you are the current PTA President the urge to photograph a sleeping board member on your iPhone and immediately post it to Facebook will cause an internal struggle.
7. A letter to the editor of our local newspaper must be less than 200 words.
8. It is tough to get your point across when you’re a big talker you are limited to 200 words.
9. It might be easier for me to write, Dear Editor, I have an opinion about the School Board’s plan to consolidate B and F Elementary. Please call me. Sincerely yours, Julie.
10. When you are spending two hours of your life composing a letter to the editor, you should really read the guidelines before finishing the letter. If not, you will end up axing over half of your letter and wondering why you didn’t have the good sense to read them before hand.
11. When four Schools are being affected, each will have its own set of concerns.
12. I still have trouble with the whole affect / effect thing.
13. Money is the bottom line.
14. Feeling powerless is a bad feeling.
And that, as they say, is that.
Here’s the letter I sent to the editor. Keep in mind, I have stricken half of it from the record due to word constraints.
Recently, the K. County School Board presented a proposal to parents in the Sville area. The proposal includes the closure of B. Elementary and the consolidation of those students to F. Elementary. As a result of the school closure, approximately 150 fifth-grade students will be sent to S. Middle School. While I whole-heartedly agree that the situation at B. Elementary needs to be rectified, I do NOT for one moment believe or accept that the only viable option in making this happen includes moving our fifth-graders to the Middle School.
The K. County School Board dropped this proposal in the laps of Sville parents after alternate plans were explored and quickly dismissed. Parents are expected to embrace this plan even though the school Board had not conducted the necessary research to compare the educational benefits verses the growing-list of issues that have surfaced as a result of this plan. The School Board could not ensure that fifth-grade students at SMS would have access to the same programs and services as other county fifth-graders.
Simply put, this is a hasty decision. One that I do not feel will serve the best interest of the children in the Sville Community. Ten year-old students belong in an elementary school environment. Our students should not be singled out simply because it serves the current interest of the Kanawha County School Board.
Yours Truly, Julie
Head on over to Musings Of A Housewife for more things that people learned, most of which probably have nothing to do with the school board.