The parents and communities of SPS are worried. You know that, right?
You are already enrolling kindergarteners and students new to SPS and soon will be have open enrollment. What can you seriously tell people about what schools will be where and what will be offered?
There are many, many things that are in flux, in question and downright hazy. And they have been for a long time.
There are many details but it boils down to a few key things:
- Program placement. This drives almost everything done in our district. Enrollment, facilities, what types of programs and how they are implemented. Parents need to know - firmly - where these programs will land.
Advanced Learning and Special Ed are really not working. Parents do not know what to expect and, because you have chosen to allow schools to decide how to enact these programs, it's really unclear what any given student will get at any given school.
- Facilities. Every student deserves a clean, safe building that is not overcrowded. That is not currently the case. Much of this falls on the district's shoulders as the responsible party.
The district and the Board chose, decade after decade, to under maintain buildings.
This district chose to overbuild (especially in our high schools) rather than get more buildings done.
The district sold off buildings they should have and, to add to that, sold some for less than they were worth.
BEX IV is going to be the roadmap to how we move forward with facilities. Don't mess this up.
- Academics. Remember that? The reason you exist as a district? It is a sad, sad thing that academics has taken a backseat to facilities and program placement. Meanwhile, parents worry over curriculum and worry that the rigor is not available in every classroom.
What you should NOT be focusing on:
- a downtown school. Not anywhere near a priority and I don't care who is running for mayor - it's not a priority.
Don't divert staff time and attention to a downtown school when
Superintendent Banda has stated that he knows there is enough space for
all kids in downtown in nearby schools and yet he is worried about where
all the NE students will fit. That's the right attitude and the right
priority and yet we know some staff are STILL meeting with downtown
If Allentown wants a downtown school, they will
have to figure out where it lands, provide the space and THEN the
district can get involved. This issue is THEIR problem, not the
- opening new schools. I know that you are doing this anyway but could you just make them - to start out with - basic schools? Our district isn't great on vision for themed schools and follow-thru. JA has struggled and so has Cleveland STEM and K-5 STEM. We still don't have a handle on foreign language immersion schools.
- a Strategic Plan. I know you've hired a nice consulting group out of California because you feel unable to figure out a plan on your own.
I feel like Linus in a Charlie Brown Christmas explaining what a school district does but here goes:
Here's your plan:
- academic rigor for ALL students
- supports for students who struggle and resources for the staff who serve them
- coherent programs that parents understand and know how to access
- program placement that serves students in an equitable manner
- safe, clean buildings
- transparency in your dealings and how you spend the money you are given
- respectful relationships and clear communication with labor partners and parents
- make sure that we have good teachers and principals and a responsive staff