UPDATE #2: Tonight is the night of the big meeting. The vote will be at Cranston West Auditorium at 7 pm. More people have raised important issues in the comments below.
UPDATE: School Committee member Andrea Iannazzi has provided some more information:
– The School Committee will be voting on two separate resolutions. The first, scheduled for a vote on Monday (1/14), states “SPONSORED BY THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE AND ADMINISTRATION NO. 08-1-2 Â RESOLVED, that the 6th grade classes be housed in the elementary schools and that the middle school model will consist of the 7th and 8th grades commencing with the 2008-2009 school year.” After this vote, the School Committee will then discuss and debate curriculum (most likely at a future work session).
– Cost savings from this move range anywhere from 300,000 to 1.8 million dollars, depending upon which “Scenario” the School Committee votes for.
– The cost savings are achieved from reduction of FTES (teachers, administrators, and itinerants) and the closing of five of our nine portables. There are “add-backs” for additional elementary level itinerants.
– Each “Scenario” proposes eliminating the Family and Consumer Science program.
– Despite what may have been implied by the opposition, this topic was extensively studied. The subcommittee held a dozen plus meetings over a five month period. Additionally, many of the School Committee members involved discussed the potential move in other forums. For example, I attended Open Houses at six elementary schools (Garden City, Glen Hills, Orchard Farms, Peters, Stone Hill, and Woodridge), met with parents upon their request, and met with teachers at the elementary schools in my district.
The teachers are lining up with the parents in Cranston on one side of a battle, with school administrators and school committee members on the other side. The fight is over whether the 6th graders should be moved back into the elementary schools, to solve some of the overcrowding problems in the middle schools. Today the teachers sent a big mailer of a racing supermodern train on the front and an unfortunate-looking train wreck on the back. The text on the front reads “Stop This Runaway Train…” (train labeled Cranston School Committee Express) and on the back reads “…Before It’s a Train Wreck!” The rest of the text is as follows:
The Cranston School Committee and Cranston Schoool Administrators want to railroad through changes that will move Cranston’s 6th graders from their middle schools back to elementary schools and dismantle important educational programs, such as family and consumer science, arts and music classes. They say these changes will save money, but the savings will be less than 1% of this year’s school budget. Worse, they fail to tell you that it will have a profoundly negative impact on our children. In fact, the majority of the parents on the committee to study this issue were adamantly opposed to these changes.
This proposal will:
–put important educational programs at risk
–create minimal savings — with maximum disruption
–more temporary classrooms — increased class sizes
Don’t Let Our Children Get ‘Railroaded’
Attend the Cranston School Committee Meeting
January 14, 2008, Cranston High School West, 7 pm
An email I received from my elementary school listserv said that parents are targeting Steve Stycos and Deb Greifer as members of the committee most likely to be sympathetic to their concerns.
I was initially in favor of this proposal to move the 6th grade back, since some of our elementary schools have been closed for lack of an adequate census. However, the parents who have studied this issue are probably the best ones to listen to, and they are indicating many ways that this may cause problems for educating children in Cranston.
But it’s interesting that the teachers are coming out so strongly. One issue for teachers is the 6th grade teachers needing to be certified to work on the elementary level. I don’t know the details of how this was going to be worked out, but I know it was flagged as a problem early and often. I have heard people talk about how this will force a healthy number of retirements in the middle school teacher population, but I don’t know how true that is.