At the Board meeting last night, the fate of the Pinehurst program was discussed.
There was an Intro item on the agenda to end the program. Before I
left the meeting, I was handed a sheet that outlined the idea of AS-1
and Indian Heritage joining together. It's a pretty thoughtful piece of
work that would co-join the goals of both programs. (They want to be
at Lincoln for the interim and them move to W-P; that part confuses me
because they want to be K-8 and that wouldn't work at that location.)
The Indian Heritage High school would be part of Ingraham which has the
largest number of Native American students in the north end. They would
then move to the new Lincoln High (or again at W-P but it won't fit). I think this could have legs but it would take more than one Director to get any traction.
English ran through the issues - that Pinehurst costs $8k per student
compared to $5k at larger schools. They could put Pinehurst at Van
Asselt but most of Pinehurst's students come from the area around the
existing building. Move to Decataur after Thorton Creek moves out but
then you the expense of a building that isn't full.
Director DeBell was pretty cold on the idea of keeping either program.
He said that "there is nothing absolute about any program or school." He
said it can't be "necessitated" to keep every single program. He said
that the parent demand for either program is not there. He said if
there is demand, "it is not evident."
I waited and
thank goodness, Director Peaslee pointed out the very obvious and real
point that neither program has enough district support and have been on
the chopping block, making it very difficult to increase enrollment.
(Not to mention how badly the Native American program has been
underserved by the former director.) To not acknowledge the district's
role in what may be the demise of these programs is wrong.
(I had stated no one else stepped up and spoke up. I was mistaken and must have somehow skipped through it on my Tivo. )
Director Patu was impassioned about the need to think of communities and what these schools mean. For the second time that night she asked what is more important - money or programs? A tough question. But she said she felt that the program had not been supported.
DeBell said that when Phil Brockman was in the district, he worked with the principal to try to help increase the enrollment. He didn't want to let the statements stand that no one on staff was trying to help support Pinehurst or the Native American program.
(I'll just say that I believe DeBell but I have also seen the effects of a constant threat of closure and that DeBell didn't want to even acknowledge that was strange.)
Smith-Blum said she looks forward to staff vetting this new proposal. She said they need to find out from parents what it is that works for their children in the program if that can be found elsewhere for them.