The Wrong Recipe

At the beginning of the Board of Education meeting earlier this week, Board Member John Collins spoke briefly against people who have spoken out against Board Members, staff, Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis, and Dr. Michael Webb. He spoke highly of them all and wanted to make it clear that Dr. Ellis was just doing her job, and doing it well. According to John Collins, the BOE gave Dr. Ellis instructions on finding a solution to the overcrowding, and Dr. Ellis was simply doing her job.

These are the instructions that the BOE gave Dr. Ellis:

  1. Define the population bubble and make long term adjustments.
  2. Utilize available seats and provide options.
  3. Make sure we optimize efficiency of support systems (core/meal service/safety/offices/transportation).
  4. How long will it take for the bubble to move through after seating adjustments?

Did you notice anything missing from these instructions? Is it just me or did the BOE completely ignore the part where they should include what is best for our children and their education? Shouldn’t that play a huge role in their planning and decision making processes? Shouldn’t that be the number one goal behind every decision they make? Why was this not included in the instructions they gave Dr. Ellis? Better yet, why didn’t they give Dr. Ellis the Administrative Guidelines for Student Assignment from the Board of Education’s Policy Manual?

  1. Maximize benefits to students.
  2. Get maximum number of students in brick and mortar facility.
  3. Provide same quality education to all students.
  4. Adhere to neighborhood schools concept.
  5. Limit the number of transitions for same students.
  6. Minimize the negative social/emotional impact on students from being separated from classmates.
  7. Utilize long-term planning.
  8. Minimize transportation costs and ride times.
  9. Communicate to public.
  10. Provide relief to most overcrowded schools.
  11. Be aware of requirements within municipality lines/government boundaries.
  12. Be fair and equitable.
  13. Maximize quality of life/stability.
  14. Maximize community/school relationships.
  15. Be aware of logistical and operational impact on schools.
  16. Analyze costs associated with plan and benefits.
  17. Minimize total costs of operations.
  18. Consider negative impact on students, staff, and faculty.
  19. Ensure legitimacy of plan.
  20. Maximize assurance of taxpayers that Board is conscious of its fiduciary responsibility.
  21. Maintain awareness of and alignment with future growth.
  22. Consider input from staff and administration.
    (You can find this list here on the Board of Education website.)

Did you notice #1? Maximize benefits to students. This is the list that the Board of Education should have given to Dr. Ellis when asking her to put together a presentation about redistricting and alternatives. Who at the BOE decided to ignore their own policy guidelines and then make up new ones, ignoring what is best for our children? If John Collins wants to know why parents are angry, he should compare the BOE’s instructions with their policy guidelines. I’m sure the answer will be clear.

Unfortunately for Dr. Ellis, the instructions she was given were all wrong. Had the BOE done their job correctly, and included their policy guidelines regarding reassignment in their instructions to Dr. Ellis, perhaps her presentation would have been a little different. Had the BOE done their job and for just one moment considered what is actually best for our children, and included that in their instructions to  Dr. Ellis, perhaps her presentation would have been better received.

To be honest, I don’t know if Dr. Ellis supports or opposes redistricting. Based on the presentation on January 23, I assume that she supports it. But perhaps she was just doing her job, as assigned by the BOE. Perhaps the BOE gave her the wrong recipe and left her standing in front of hundreds of angry parents as a scapegoat. I don’t know. What I do know is that this redistricting plan is a terrible idea. What I do know is that this redistricting plan is not in the best interest of my kids, and probably not in the best interest of your kids.

I defy anyone to show me exactly how my kids education is better off with this plan. The truth is, you can’t. This plan doesn’t benefit my kids, it hurts them. No one in their right mind can look at the pros (if you can find any) and cons of this plan and tell me truthfully this is better for my kids. Try it, I dare you. Try and tell me this is better for my kids, and you will be wrong. You’re wrong not just because the final decision on what is best for my children rests with my wife and I, you’re wrong because the facts of this issue prove you wrong. You are wrong because the indisputable results of parent research and state testing prove conclusively that this redistricting plan will hurt the education of my children. If you ask me, I think it will hurt the education of your children too. I will let you decide what is best for your kids, and then I hope you contact Kevin Stewart at the Board of Education and tell him what you think.

-Angry Dad

2 thoughts on “The Wrong Recipe”

  1. According to the BOE minutes, Kevin Stewart gave the instructions to the staff, not the BOE. From the approved minutes:
    “…Kevin Stewart stated
    as Chairman of the Facilities Committee he was directing the Superintendent and staff to hold the next meeting at the Professional Development Center. He informed there are three goals he would like the staff to accomplish: find bubbles, make long term adjustments, and provide information to avail seats so Union County Public Schools is a good steward of the taxpayers’ money. He commented he would like there to be efficiency concerning support services such as transportation and optimum classroom capacity. He requested the staff review capacity of cafeterias and media centers, the ability to add square footage to buildings, the ability to add mobile units, and to ensure that in severe weather we have room to move students to safety. ”

    Now, maybe Mr. Stewart was speaking on behalf of the BOE. Maybe there was discussion and a vote on what instructions to give the staff. But if there were, those actions ought to be in the minutes.

    Maybe this is a minor discrepancy. But add all the “minor discrepancies” together, and there should be no wonder why we don’t trust what the BOE or Staff say.

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