“I am one of many who believes that it is time for the state-mandated consolidation of school districts to be dissolved.
My reasons are many, the school bus that went by my home at 6 this morning being only one of them. If kids are going to spend much of their school day just getting there and back, conduct some classes on the bus.”
~the humble farmer
“….thousands of Maine people can now tell you that busing kids 20 miles to school “to save money” has nothing to do with improving education…”
~the humble farmer
…or “saving money”. (The research shows this scheme would cost MORE!) Oh, and it would be quite a bit more than 20 miles, factoring in the distance from where children actually live, and not simply the schools themselves. Of course, many of us commute further than that, but how long would it take you to pick up, say, 30 of your closest friends, some out-of-the-way, before hitting the road?
I don’t know why people are more willing to bus middle and high-school aged children out of town as if they do not need their communities every bit as much as their younger brothers and sisters.
The administration has long been determined to get, at the very least, all the district’s high school students under one roof, apparently, regardless of the cost. …and regardless of the research that shows no cost-benefit for taxpayers; costs will surely increase; and the downright detrimental effect of distance on kids and families. The Board has been trying to show communities that it is impossible to educate kids in small schools (while research evidence and small thriving schools are actually showing us that it is impossible only for THEIR skill sets – perhaps we need others). Where will we find the money to duplicate bus routes to accommodate the wildly differing destinations of children ‘standing at the end of the same driveway? What will these extra transportation costs give taxpayers in terms of return on their dollars? As the research shows that costs go up, and achievement goes down with distance — cue the expensive intervention programs… (sigh)
There are no savings from buildings, as they all remain open — but transportation will surely grow. What about kids? Kathreen Harrison has speaks directly to policymakers on the creation of stand-alone middle schools:
“…Student achievement at the eighth grade level in higher poverty schools is better statewide in K – 8 schools than in middle schools. This is particularly true of K – 8 schools with a sizable percentage of teachers holding master’s degrees.
The data about K – 8 schools should impact school board discussions about merging, closing, and consolidating schools. Before school boards move to close any community schools they should be prepared to explain to their stakeholders why student achievement in the case of their particular schools will not suffer….”
~As School Budgeting Season Heats Up Remember The Crucial Middle School Years by Kathreen Harrison
Explaining anything to stakeholders is an area in which our Board has, sadly, fallen short in the past; recognizing their accountability to community stakeholders has been a challenge. “I don’t work for you, I work for the State!” ~Chairman Greg Ryan
What? Let’s try and build a better, more healthy relationship between the Board and the Communities to whom they are accountable; over whom they have no authority.
Back to the experts: Rethinking Education is an excellent resource for Board members, communities… If you want to go now, please do! Her work is well worth your time.
The FTF Analysis lists benefits, in the Committee’s view: “..middle and high school c0-curricular offerings MIGHT experience expansion and diversification…” The emphasis on “might” is my own, and highlights the far-fetched nature of this claim, given the cost increases and distance between middle and high schools. For instance, our oldest has played in H.S. band since Grade 6 — the sort of “diversification” of ages would be eliminated here, as well as collaboration.
“Staff MAY benefit from mergers of tiny departments..” Again, “may” means “would not”. “greater internal professional collaboration opportunities”: “curriculum would be easier to coordinate and align”? Is it really necessary to professionals to gather physically under one roof every day to “collaborate”? …to align curriculum? … in the age of Skype? (or the telephone, for that matter). The communities have little interest in hiring a curriculum coordinator, and are less concerned with bureaucratic “convenience”.
“Athletic teams may become more competitive and the school may elevate to Class C status” It would also make landing a spot on the team “more competitive” so it comes down to values. Do you value maximizing opportunity for kids? …or “class C status”? These are not letter grades, and class D is actually superior in maximizing participation opportunity. As for the competitiveness of the team as a whole, our communities are proud as gold braid of our fine young people, and have no desire to see any one of them bumped from their opportunity to play.
The FTF is on the right track, when it determines that Scenario #7 “offers little potential for fiscal savings” ….if by “little” they mean “none”. ..and mentions the bussing complications. The potential for fiscal waste on bussing and more bureaucrats is virtually limitless.