I attended the community meeting for Robert Eagle Staff Middle School on Tuesday night. There were maybe 5 parents there including one father with his daughter. Marni Campbell gave the presentation with Executive Director, Jon Halfaker, in attendance. There were no handouts.
She led with the phrase "dream ambitiously." She also referenced the heritage of the Wilson Pacific site that SPS wants to honor.
She refused to state her opinion about grandfathering, saying "I'm not going to weigh in on that."
She also said that if Whitman was made much smaller by changing the boundaries to include RESMS, students would be able to choose between Whitman and RESMS.
She was asked about decisions for assignment and she said she really didn't know but probably sometime in January. (I found that answer quite lacking because parents truly need to know these dates.)
She was asked about programming like foreign language and music offerings that are currently available at other middle schools. She said she working with those schools to make sure there is "consistency and parity" for RESMS. She said "alignment is key."
She said there would be "fidelity" to the HCC program.
She was asked if the students will be able to tour the school before school starts and the answer was yes. As well, the students will be part of the decision-making for a mascot.
I'll be honest - there was not much real information in her answers to questions. I did notice two things and I hope parents keep this in mind.
1)She used the word "promise" a lot. Not "we will try" or "our goal is" but "we promise." SPS does sometimes break promises and then likes to act like no one was promised anything. Well, in this case, they are being given promises.
2) However, she was cagey in how she answered questions so what she actually promised is up for discussion.
There were several times when she said things that others had to correct. I asked about security cameras at RESMS and she said all new buildings had security cameras. Wrong because Roosevelt didn't. She also misspoke on the foreign languages offered at the middle schools. A parent had to correct her.
The issue was raised about the issues around being so close to Aurora. She had good news. The City's Neighborhood fund has given SPS $1M to address issues around that area. A separate grant for $90K for modest road safety issues in that area was also announced.
I left when I realized that the second half of the meeting was a discussion of more aspirational goals for middle schools with interaction with the parents.
But she did have a curious slide about "growth mindset" where she said that "hard workers" tried harder things and "smart students" were afraid to fail and chose easy tasks. I felt uncomfortable with that statement because there many types of learners and smart students can also be hard workers.
Ms. Campbell was very warm and upbeat. She genuinely cares about students and their needs. That is a very good thing for parents to know. But again, the lack of specific information makes these meetings not as useful as they should be.
The next meeting is this Saturday, Dec. 3rd at Northgate Elementary from 11 am to 12:30 pm.