The East Valley School Board has heard many comments from the public during the past several months, and Tuesday’s meeting was no exception.
In order to more fully discuss issues with constituents beyond what’s allowed during the structure of a board meeting, the board will host two town hall meetings on the future of its K-8 model.
Board members scheduled meetings for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27 and 10 a.m. March 8. The meetings will be in the board room at the district offices. Each session will be limited to three hours.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, Heidi Gillingham, a former board member, said the district’s facilities are a problem, but the district should find solutions. Students ate lunch in their classrooms for years, why couldn’t they do that again to free up the gymnasiums for physical education classes, she asked She said it is nice to have P.E. and music every day, but the district is meeting its requirements for minutes of education. She said if a family decided a child needed piano lessons outside the school, the most they would get is once or twice a week.
“I love the music, I love the arts, but all of these things are a family choice,” she said.
Deanna Mallet, a parent in the district, had three points: Curriculum decisions need to be made on a local level; the board should determine how grant monies the district receives will affect students; and the district needs to take a look back and see where the mistakes were made.
“Let’s move forward,” she said. “We all want the same thing for our school district.”
Chase Gunderson, a 13-year-old student at Otis Orchards School, said he feels it is time for a change. Students at his school change for P.E. on the stage and students in instrumental music have to walk through the cold to a church down the street to take band classes. Students have been experiencing theft, since they have to leave their backpacks unsupervised out in the hallway.
Art Tupper, a community member, said everyone should be patient while the “board comes up with better ways to educate our students.”
Mindy Stewart, another parent, encouraged the board to listen to the parents and their concerns. She said that as a parent, she has been told that she is the only one with these concerns or brushed off with the feeling that her complaint wasn’t important.
“This is an unwise approach,” she said. “I’d like to see this changed from the board level on down.”