January 13, 2011 in Washington Voices

Re-Visioning Plan can improve EV education

Mitch Jensen
 

As the chair of the East Valley School Board I felt a need to clarify some of the facts about our Re-Visioning Plan.

The plan, as was voted on Tuesday, Jan. 4, is to convert four elementary schools, East Farms, Otis Orchards, Trentwood and Trent to PK-8 academies, close East Valley and Mountain View middle schools. Below, in no particular order, are several highlights.

Class size will be reduced.

The district would have the capability to offer all-day kindergarten to all students

More options will be offered to students who are excelling

More remedial opportunities will be offered to students who are behind.

Under the proposed plan, students would start school before kindergarten and remain in one school until the completion of eighth grade, which will create community.

The opinion expressed that students in grades K-8 cannot learn and work together is not supported by current research or past practice.

There are many K-8 models in operation that are very successful.

Not only do most elementary schools have too few teachers at each grade level to make for effective collaboration, there is a physical and logistical disconnect between teachers in grades K-5 and grades 6-8. Placing these teachers in the same building and coordinating their efforts would allow for more collaboration.

The argument made about the safety of students seems to be a reach. It is difficult to understand how having more grade levels would reduce the availability of support from older siblings or neighbors.

Research states that kids in K-8 schools are less likely to become sexually active, experiment with drugs, and are more likely to graduate.

Parents with students in grades kindergarten through eight would have their kids in the same school.

Currently, parental and community involvement in the schools drops off when kids enter middle school. It is likely that more parents and community members will stay involved longer under a PK-8 model.

If a move to PK-8 were to be effected the schools would be larger, although they would not be 750 students. There are only 2,850 students currently enrolled in grades K-8. If the students who attend CCS are removed, the remaining students are split among four K-8 schools, and the number of students in each school is about 640.

If the pre-school students were spread equally across the district, the number of students in each school would be 670. (The actual enrollment for funding purposes, the number most often used when school size is discussed, would be between 580 and 603.)

Essentially, we will have two to three classes of each level at each PK-8, three teachers at each level, (which would enable core subject specialists for all grades as well as increased options for electives).

The voters of the East Valley School District have rejected a bond to improve the middle schools three times in the last two years.

The move to a PK-8 system offers the taxpayers, for about the same amount of money, an option to rebuild five schools instead of just two.

Two schools will be taken out of service for instructional purposes and the current administration building will be sold and a rented substandard maintenance facility will be eliminated. This move is expected to have a significant positive impact on the operational costs of the district.

We believe PK-8 will increase extracurricular and interscholastic athletic activities for all students.

Further information can be found on our district website, EVSD.org. If you would like to be included in future electronic district updates please contact our district superintendent, John Glenewinkel, at glenewinkelj@evsd.org.

East Valley School District Board Chair Mitch Jensen can be reached by e-mail at jensenm@evsd.org.


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