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 Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School

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tdrparent



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Tue 10 Feb 2009, 7:46 am

Admin wrote:
tdrparent wrote:
Admin wrote:
tdrparent wrote:
Hi Admin!

I posted this question under another topic, but it got missed when you were answering questions last night.....


Admin wrote "we are talking about a K-8 that will settle in around 550 students after a couple years"

Where does the 550 number come from? Howe has about 360 students now; adding 2 grades X 2 sections would increase the 360 by no more than 100 students, yes? Are you thinking of reducing class size and adding a third section of each grade?

Thanks for being so responsive to all the questions. I'm in favor of the K-8 proposal and I want all the adults who work at Howe to come with the kids!

A: The short answer is yes. We do plan phasing in alternating three section classes to ensure there is always a full five sections at the middle school (grade seven and eight) level. Ideally we accomplish this by enrolling two or three sections of kindergarteners each year.

Thanks for the response. Wouldn't you end up with an extra elementary-grade teacher every other year? I.e. after several years you'd have 22 elementary education classrooms one year and 23 the other? If you had 3 sections for each elementary grade and thus 3 sections of 7 and 8, would that be too many middle-school kids for a complement of middle-school subject area teachers?

A: Yes, this is one area of concern and is one reason we would not take this approach in the first year or two at least not until the K-8 program got settled in at Central Park. We have a number of administrative options to consider as we address this issue. Each elementary building is forced to “reorganize” annually due to enrollment and subsequent sectioning changes. However, stability in staff is important making this an issue that needs to be addressed before we begin that alternating enrollment idea.

Would 3 sections each of 7-8 be too many for a complement of middle-school subject area teachers? If not, maybe (if the proposal goes through) the district could just lottery in an additional section of an earlier grade, like 4th or 5th... That would keep the number of sections per grade stable, and maintain the intimate, nurturing feeling for the youngest kids.

For point of comparison, how many sections of each grade does/will the King K-8 have?

Thanks.
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Admin
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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Tue 10 Feb 2009, 8:18 am

A: Yes. A full schedule for secondary teachers is five sections. Right now King has a couple classes that have three sections which we have kept smaller, however they could be consolidated into two sections if necessary as those students enter the middle school grades.
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Amy



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Tue 10 Feb 2009, 2:57 pm

I saw this question posted last week and it still has no answer. Perhaps it was overlooked?

Admin:

As appeared in the Daily Gazette on 2/4/09


"Another reason for making the change is all three of the district’s middle schools — Central Park, Mont Pleasant and Oneida — are on the federal failing schools list because students are not showing adequate progress. The No Child Left Behind law requires schools that do not get off this list to restructure."

Could you please discuss the role the middle schools' standing with regard to NCLB has on restructuring Howe Magnet? I have attended many meetings on this topic and have not heard you mention this as a motivating factor. Please discuss its true role. Also, could you please discuss their present standing briefly, how long their standing as been deemed at this level and what NCLB classifies as restructuring?

Thank you.
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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Tue 10 Feb 2009, 3:40 pm

Amy wrote:
I saw this question posted last week and it still has no answer. Perhaps it was overlooked?

Admin:

As appeared in the Daily Gazette on 2/4/09


"Another reason for making the change is all three of the district’s middle schools — Central Park, Mont Pleasant and Oneida — are on the federal failing schools list because students are not showing adequate progress. The No Child Left Behind law requires schools that do not get off this list to restructure."

Could you please discuss the role the middle schools' standing with regard to NCLB has on restructuring Howe Magnet? I have attended many meetings on this topic and have not heard you mention this as a motivating factor. Please discuss its true role. Also, could you please discuss their present standing briefly, how long their standing as been deemed at this level and what NCLB classifies as restructuring?

Thank you.

A: There has not been any consideration of the status of our middle schools, particularly Central Park, in this proposal. All three of our middle schools are on failing school lists due to the achievement rates of special needs students at this point. Central Park has made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) periodically; however they would need to make AYP for two consecutive years to get off the list. None of our district elementary schools are on these failing schools lists.

Restructuring is a term used in the state’s implementation of the No Child Left Behind legislation and can take many forms. It can include closing a school altogether, removing all staff and administration and replacing them, or the option we have selected which is to create a detailed improvement plan that incorporates a change in the traditional instructional approach, teacher training and management approaches.

The designations of a school are based on the achievement level of students who attend the school. This is assigned to the location whether that student body changes or not. So in essence, Central Park would remain on the list regardless if we make this move or not. Ultimately, the school would need to achieve AYP for two consecutive years across every sub-group of students in order to get off this list.
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Amy



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Tue 10 Feb 2009, 4:10 pm

Thanks for the reply.
So, Howe would lose its "high achieving status" and would then be placed on the failing list? I'm sure you hope that the Howe students would continue to achieve and pull that ranking up in two years time to remove CP from that list? How then can you say that the status of CP has no role in this decision? In essence, doesn't it entirely change one of the district's middle school's standing? I do not believe your motives for creating a K-8 for Howe are completely transparent.
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tdrparent



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PostSubject: Thanks   Tue 10 Feb 2009, 6:53 pm

Admin wrote:
A: Yes. A full schedule for secondary teachers is five sections. Right now King has a couple classes that have three sections which we have kept smaller, however they could be consolidated into two sections if necessary as those students enter the middle school grades.

Thanks for your reply, and for all the time you're spending answering all the parents' questions.
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Mary Kay Fenner



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Wed 11 Feb 2009, 5:10 pm

Mr. Ely and the Board of Education,

When we can expect a vote on this proposal? As things stand right now you are completley tearing the Howe family/community apart. I am sure that was not your intention but this is excatley what is happening. In the last 3 -5 days this is what I have heard:

Accusations that someone could remove the postings from the web-site.

Accusations of not being able to us the web site/forum because they disagreed with the proposal.

Accusations that the Howe PTO was not going to forward to the Board of Education ALL of the surveys returned to Howe.

Insulting remarks about not wanting our children to go to school with those (7&8 graders) Children even though the majority will be "those 5 and 6th graders that they go to school with now.

Insulting the many families who live near and around Central Park stating that I do not want my children going to that side of the city.

Living with this notion that there are no behavioral problems at Howe but somehow there will be nothing but problems with this move. How very fortunate we are that all of those bad kids and families go to all of those other schools! The staff at Howe deals with as many problems as any other elementary school does. You just may not have been there to hear the in apporitate language by both parents and children, the anger, violence etc. but the staff deals with it everyday same as all of the other schools.

Right now you are pitting the families against each other. the feeling is which ever way the Board decides that someone will be the "winner"

When the schools went K-6 none of this insanity came up. When the board decided to rent the vacant catholic schools, no lengthy discussions. This has been a consideration for at least 5 years that I know of. I am sorry that some families were not aware of it but the above is what you are doing with these "discussions" When all is said and done you will have made your decision one way or the other but it will then be up to whatever staff and families remain to come together, put aside these hard feelings and make it work. As has been stated we as families made a decison to apply for the Magnet program at Howe. I do not believe that the name was Howe International Magnet School on upper Union Street. If you decide to vote for this proposal then any of the families not in agreement always have the option of removing their children from the program and sending them to their neighborhood school or apply to one of the other magnet programs. Any number of families from Woodlawn or Paige would gladly take those spots. Postponing or phasing this proposal will not work for the people against it because if they dislike the idea now what will change their minds? As one mother stated on the website/forum "She will never agree to this proposal"
I am in complete agreement with this proposal and want to see it passed now. Many things need to be done and waiting is just making it harder to get them done in time for school next year. To let this continue much longer will only do more damage to the family/community at Howe.
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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Wed 11 Feb 2009, 7:11 pm

Mary Kay is correct when quoting me. I will never agree to this proposal.

Has anyone ever once asked a tenured teacher either at Howe or at Central Park if they are in favor of this proposal. Ask one. You'll find the answer eye-opening. After all, it is the teachers who are the success of the programs both at Howe and at Central Park.

If Howe moves, not all teachers will come. That's a fact. The Superintendent has stated that he will not "guarantee" that all teachers or Principal Coffey will come. If that is not a guarantee, then that's not the Howe program.

I've been in this school district for a total of 6 months and was never told that a stratigic plan existed until January 27th. Then, without having an opportunity to even view the Strategic plan, or the full Howe proposal, I am told to agree with it.

I would never agree to or even sign a contract if it wasn't completely written yet. What am I signing onto? For five years this plan has been researched, yet there is nothing written? Tell me the teachers and the principal are coming. Tell me this K-8 model has been researched for Magnet Schools in the country. Tell me you have a concrete plan.

People have questions that need answers! That's not tearing the community apart, that's shedding light onto real issues that need honest answers before we take this step.

Thank you,
Joyce Wachala
awachala@nycap.rr.com
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Mary Kay Fenner



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Wed 11 Feb 2009, 9:39 pm

Wachala1- Welcome to the school district!. I do understand that this may have been a surprise to you and I am sorry that whoever was your recruiter did not explain that there was the possibility that the program may go K-8, since it had been being discussed for so long and since they had just gone K-6 2 years ago. I am very sorry that you were not told or made aware that on the District web site that there is a link for a Stratigic Planning. However you need to understand that the families that have now been there since the early discussions did know that this was a possiblity and I know that in general everyone was very excited when it went K-6 and realized that K-8 was hopefully going to happen in time for the group of kids now. Since you have only been associated with the district for 6 months are you aware that all 3 Middle Schools are failing? Do you have any plans for staying within the district when your children are ready for Middle School? And if so will you be comfortable sending them to failing middle schools? I have made my feelings clear in the past Middle Schools are very difficult at best and I do no think as a "system" we are doing any children any favors continuing down this failing path. So now we have this opportunity to change the "system" as a school district In regards to the teachers and staff I have also made my feelings known about all of them in person and in writings and my complete respect for all of them. I have spoken to teachers who are directly effected by this and teachers outside of the district and teachers in the district but who also would not be effected by this. One of them had a very good in-sight- many, many schools some located just out side the capitol district are traditional k-12 schools and they all make it work even with all of the different age groups. So if they can make it work in Hartford NY, Northville, NY or Cambridge NY why should we not expect it to work here in Schenectady with K-8? One of the other teachers reminded me that my trying to fight to keep all of the staff together was not my fight to have. That fight belongs to the teachers Union, don't know if I completley agree with that but it was another side. Another one told me that personally if their family was looking at one of their children going into a failing middle school they to would be fighting for a change.

What I do know though is that something has to change as all of our children will be in those middle school years and to me this makes the most sense. Keeping the children together, with the same families, friends and staff that they all know for as long as possible. Since you have stated that you will never agree to this proposal do you have other plans in case it does get passed? You do have other options for elementary school- other magnet programs, neighborhood school, all are either at a performing level or better for Middle School in Schenectady there are no options.

I do take a exception to your remark that it is the teachers who are the success of the programs at both Howe and Central Park. From where I am it is a collaboration of everyone, staff, children and families who make these programs work.. without all 3 of them working together none of it will work. No matter what school district you are in.

You make my point for me very well. This cannot go on. Whatever the decision of the Board, people need to be able to decide what is best for their families- the staff needs to know where they all stand and school needs to continue. The accusations need to stop.

Again I ask the board to please accept this K-8 proposal as soon as possible. It is not fair to anyone to let it continue on like this.
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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Wed 11 Feb 2009, 10:18 pm

I agree with MKF that the Howe program works because of the staff, students and families involved working together but from most of the comments I have heard at the public forums and BOE meeting many people in favor of this have stated numerous times that it is all about the staff exclusively and if they do not all move then it will not be the same, so I find it interesting that now that reality is setting in with contractual issues possibly preventing that from happening, that it is not just about the staff anymore.
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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Wed 11 Feb 2009, 11:54 pm

Mary Kay Fenner wrote:
Mr. Ely and the Board of Education,

When we can expect a vote on this proposal? As things stand right now you are completley tearing the Howe family/community apart. I am sure that was not your intention but this is excatley what is happening. In the last 3 -5 days this is what I have heard:

Accusations that someone could remove the postings from the web-site.

Accusations of not being able to us the web site/forum because they disagreed with the proposal.

Accusations that the Howe PTO was not going to forward to the Board of Education ALL of the surveys returned to Howe.

Insulting remarks about not wanting our children to go to school with those (7&8 graders) Children even though the majority will be "those 5 and 6th graders that they go to school with now.

Insulting the many families who live near and around Central Park stating that I do not want my children going to that side of the city.

Living with this notion that there are no behavioral problems at Howe but somehow there will be nothing but problems with this move. How very fortunate we are that all of those bad kids and families go to all of those other schools! The staff at Howe deals with as many problems as any other elementary school does. You just may not have been there to hear the in apporitate language by both parents and children, the anger, violence etc. but the staff deals with it everyday same as all of the other schools.

Right now you are pitting the families against each other. the feeling is which ever way the Board decides that someone will be the "winner"

When the schools went K-6 none of this insanity came up. When the board decided to rent the vacant catholic schools, no lengthy discussions. This has been a consideration for at least 5 years that I know of. I am sorry that some families were not aware of it but the above is what you are doing with these "discussions" When all is said and done you will have made your decision one way or the other but it will then be up to whatever staff and families remain to come together, put aside these hard feelings and make it work. As has been stated we as families made a decison to apply for the Magnet program at Howe. I do not believe that the name was Howe International Magnet School on upper Union Street. If you decide to vote for this proposal then any of the families not in agreement always have the option of removing their children from the program and sending them to their neighborhood school or apply to one of the other magnet programs. Any number of families from Woodlawn or Paige would gladly take those spots. Postponing or phasing this proposal will not work for the people against it because if they dislike the idea now what will change their minds? As one mother stated on the website/forum "She will never agree to this proposal"
I am in complete agreement with this proposal and want to see it passed now. Many things need to be done and waiting is just making it harder to get them done in time for school next year. To let this continue much longer will only do more damage to the family/community at Howe.

A: The board of education is not scheduled to meet again until the Study Session on Wednesday, February 25. At that time, the board will be presented with a more thorough proposal based on the original but with details that have been developed as a result of the past several weeks of parental and community input. The board will also hear about other options that are available to meet the needs of the district with the administration's view of the pros and cons of each proposal and option.

This discussion board, meetings and forums, designed to gather input from parents, has given rise to emotions from both ends of the spectrum from complete agreement with the original proposal to complete disagreement of the original proposal. As I have said repeatedly throughout this process, we as adults can use this dialogue to discuss each piece of this proposal but we should always understand and respect each other's opinions. I believe we can use this as a way to show our children how adults work through a difficult and emotional situation respectfully. The fact is, valid concerns and opinions certainly have merit on all sides of this proposal and the future of our district.

One person has been blocked from posting to the discusion board because of a violation of the user agreement, one that every person agrees to adhere to before logging on and engaging in any discussion on this board.

If you have been participating in the discussion and have stated your opinion or case for either side or if you have just been reading the posts, you can certainly see that diverse opinions are welcome and have not been censored in any way. Again, we believe the meetings, forums and the discussion board strengthen this process. We encourage input from all interested parties.

I too have been disappointed by some of the comments about "those kids" and "that side of town" and other rhetoric used in some of the posts because I believe that all the children, regardless of what school they attend or where they live, are our Schenectady children and each and every one belongs to our community. That said, everyone has a right to feel the way they feel.


Last edited by Admin on Thu 12 Feb 2009, 12:22 am; edited 2 times in total
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wachala1



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 12:01 am

Mary Kay,

You are right, it is unfair to continue like this, but why are we moving in this direction? I am very aware that all 3 middle schools and the high school are on the NY State list of schools not in good standing. Once Howe moves, won't it then be placed on this list of failing schools too? Ironic how the #1 elementary school (based on the nySTART reports) will now be on a list of the worst schools in Schenectady.

Wouldn't is be wiser to make a k-8 at Woodlawn, Paige and all other elementary schools (such as King is doing) which can physically house these students and THEN close off Central Park to Howe only? This would decrease the numbers in the middle schools making the Howe move logical. Right now, the Howe move will only benefit Howe, creating more of a burden on the other two remaining middle schools and causing redistricting problems as well.

Also, if the district plan was to eventually make k-8 programs (keeping students together longer), how will these children be prepared for the high school? A 2,500 student population and classes of 600-700. Will our 8th graders be able to stay with their elementary peers?

My question is, Schenectady's elementary schools are doing great, can we correctly get the K-8 program going? Also, why aren't we looking to do something with the 2,500 students all in one high school? Isn't that a bigger issue?

Unfortunately, I disagree that it's not the teachers and Principal that make Howe great. It really is. It's the teachers who work all day with our children. Parents and students will always be around, but the unique, successful Howe program implemented by the Howe teachers is rare! And once we move and the teachers and Principal Coffey do not follow, we're just another elementary school. I want Howe, not just another school.

Mary Kay, I sincerely thank you for all the information you've provided and I appreciate your educated discussion with me as well. It's absolutely wonderful to have you respond to my questions rather than not addressing them.

I only hope the school board rethinks the way in which we're implementing the K-8 system being that the Howe proposal should be the logical last step, not the first. Let's really try to reach our goals for the good of the entire district.

Thank you,
Joyce Wachala
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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 12:11 am

Amy wrote:
Thanks for the reply.
So, Howe would lose its "high achieving status" and would then be placed on the failing list? I'm sure you hope that the Howe students would continue to achieve and pull that ranking up in two years time to remove CP from that list? How then can you say that the status of CP has no role in this decision? In essence, doesn't it entirely change one of the district's middle school's standing? I do not believe your motives for creating a K-8 for Howe are completely transparent.

A: The regulations related to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) are complex. Suffice it to say that all three district middle schools are on these lists right now due to the achievement level of special needs students. I will reiterate that Howe is a successful magnet school program. This proposal suggests expanding this (successful) program to a K-8 program that will continue this path of success. The NCLB designation goes with the building, not the program. Our goal, with any move we make as a district, is to help all of our students achieve at higher levels.
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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 12:26 am

Thank you to Mary Kay Fenner and Admin for your input on this issue. The faculty is a very important part of the Howe experience. I do not know the Schenectady Teachers' contract. I work In the Albany City Schools and we are probably going to have transfers,layoffs,etc because of the economy and other factors. I wonder about this scenario. What if the proposal doesn't go through? The teachers are usually not guaranteed their places in a building. They are placed where they are needed in the district because of their certification. I imagine seniority might play a role also. So it is possible, that if the proposal doesn't go through , that the teachers could be reassigned elsewhere anyway? I am amused by the notion that some people have this idea that things should never change and they get upset when things do change.

To the poster who will never accept this proposal, if it goes through will you send your child(ren) to your home school? If the proposal doesn't go through and the faculty is made up of a whole different bunch of teachers at Howe, will you stay or go to your home school?

I agree with MKF that the BOE should act quickly on this issue.
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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 12:30 pm

Wachala1- I'm sorry that you think that only the teachers and staff make your hildrens education work! I know from where we stand we are a family- 24 hours a day , 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Without our complete support my children would not do well. My influence and expectation does not stop at the front door to Howe every monring at 8:45. Are you aware that there are many children in Howe now that have very limited family support? How easy it would be for all of us to just hand the responsibility over to the teachers and staff and feel our job was done. Education will not work if all 3 things do not come together.

In regards to the standings or grading of schools- I believe that Central Park MIDDLE School is on the failing list. I do not completley understand the legalities of what type of designation the Howe program would be given if it is moved to another building. However whatever its desigation is I expect and will continue to expect that it continues its high achievement standings no matter what the out come of this decision. In regards to the High School we are very fortunate that the Board is addressing this increase in population issue. First I take it as s good sign , more families are moving into Schenectady and better yet many more children are realizing that they need a education and are not dropping out. In the districts quest to keep smaller classes they are currently moving forward with a addition to the HS with the option of possibly adding more if/when needed.

In regards to the article in the Gazette today. I did not see the posting and cannot comment on it, however I have noticed many posting from people who are not in favor of this so I do not know why just one would have banned but everyone does state that it was banned. Also in regards to the article With the exception of paying school taxes, as we all do, why should there be a impact on the merchants located in the upper Union street area? The school is only located a few streets away and how many elementary students leave school grounds to go to McDonalds- Bruegers the bank?? I drop and pick up my children every day and am in the mad dash to get everyone home after school- I doubt many families are around after school to enjoy the restaurants, shopping, etc.

I also have no mixed feelings as to how the children will do once the get to High School-the plan is that they will still be changing classes etc. same as in a traditional middle school. I do believe that there is a way to bring all of the 7&8 grades together whether through art programs, sports, social events etc. so that they are get a feel for each other before High School.

Again I am in favor of this proposal and want to see it passed. I think it is a wonderful opportunity to change the "middle" school years.
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PostSubject: 2500 in high school   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 2:16 pm

wachala1 wrote:
Mary Kay,

You are right, it is unfair to continue like this, but why are we moving in this direction? I am very aware that all 3 middle schools and the high school are on the NY State list of schools not in good standing. Once Howe moves, won't it then be placed on this list of failing schools too? Ironic how the #1 elementary school (based on the nySTART reports) will now be on a list of the worst schools in Schenectady.

Wouldn't is be wiser to make a k-8 at Woodlawn, Paige and all other elementary schools (such as King is doing) which can physically house these students and THEN close off Central Park to Howe only? This would decrease the numbers in the middle schools making the Howe move logical. Right now, the Howe move will only benefit Howe, creating more of a burden on the other two remaining middle schools and causing redistricting problems as well.

Also, if the district plan was to eventually make k-8 programs (keeping students together longer), how will these children be prepared for the high school? A 2,500 student population and classes of 600-700. Will our 8th graders be able to stay with their elementary peers?

My question is, Schenectady's elementary schools are doing great, can we correctly get the K-8 program going? Also, why aren't we looking to do something with the 2,500 students all in one high school? Isn't that a bigger issue?

Unfortunately, I disagree that it's not the teachers and Principal that make Howe great. It really is. It's the teachers who work all day with our children. Parents and students will always be around, but the unique, successful Howe program implemented by the Howe teachers is rare! And once we move and the teachers and Principal Coffey do not follow, we're just another elementary school. I want Howe, not just another school.

Mary Kay, I sincerely thank you for all the information you've provided and I appreciate your educated discussion with me as well. It's absolutely wonderful to have you respond to my questions rather than not addressing them.

I only hope the school board rethinks the way in which we're implementing the K-8 system being that the Howe proposal should be the logical last step, not the first. Let's really try to reach our goals for the good of the entire district.

Thank you,
Joyce Wachala

HI Joyce,

Not sure if I am doing the quote feature the right way but after moving from a small rural school district in Wisconsin to Schenectady and having my kids go from a class with 50 kids to over 500, I have been amazed at how smoothly the transition has gone. Yes, they were in shock for a few weeks but now I would not trade the high school for anywhere else. 2500 kids sounds like a lot but it is neat to see how different kids find different activities/sports/etc and the efforts the teachers and administrators put in everyday. I do not have an elementary school aged child so I am not forming an opinion on the Howe/Central proposal but did want to share that kids can thrive in a small learning environment and step into the high school successfully.
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PostSubject: Accusations that the Howe PTO was not going to forward to the Board of Education ALL of the surveys returned to Howe.   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 6:40 pm

No one has more integrity than Denise Della Villa. I know Denise within the context of the Howe PTO, and, as the previous PTO Secretary, I have complete respect for the way she handles her responsiblities. Denise is fair, consistent, and morally sound. I have no doubts that she and the rest of the PTO Board will treat all of the surveys with great care, preserving and putting forth of our opinions as they are written. I have had the pleasure of both agreeing and disagreeing with each of the PTO Board members at various times. Sometimes we see eye-to-eye and sometimes we do not...but in every instance they each respected my right to my opinion. Please let's give this process a chance.

Remember, your surveys are due by tomorrow. They need to be collected and then passed on to the Board right after vacation.

Take care and enjoy your time off next week. (And don't forget the district winter fest on Saturday in Central Park.)
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PostSubject: Parents   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 7:47 pm

wachala1 wrote:
Mary Kay,

You are right, it is unfair to continue like this, but why are we moving in this direction? I am very aware that all 3 middle schools and the high school are on the NY State list of schools not in good standing. Once Howe moves, won't it then be placed on this list of failing schools too? Ironic how the #1 elementary school (based on the nySTART reports) will now be on a list of the worst schools in Schenectady.

Wouldn't is be wiser to make a k-8 at Woodlawn, Paige and all other elementary schools (such as King is doing) which can physically house these students and THEN close off Central Park to Howe only? This would decrease the numbers in the middle schools making the Howe move logical. Right now, the Howe move will only benefit Howe, creating more of a burden on the other two remaining middle schools and causing redistricting problems as well.

Also, if the district plan was to eventually make k-8 programs (keeping students together longer), how will these children be prepared for the high school? A 2,500 student population and classes of 600-700. Will our 8th graders be able to stay with their elementary peers?

My question is, Schenectady's elementary schools are doing great, can we correctly get the K-8 program going? Also, why aren't we looking to do something with the 2,500 students all in one high school? Isn't that a bigger issue?

Unfortunately, I disagree that it's not the teachers and Principal that make Howe great. It really is. It's the teachers who work all day with our children. Parents and students will always be around, but the unique, successful Howe program implemented by the Howe teachers is rare! And once we move and the teachers and Principal Coffey do not follow, we're just another elementary school. I want Howe, not just another school.

Mary Kay, I sincerely thank you for all the information you've provided and I appreciate your educated discussion with me as well. It's absolutely wonderful to have you respond to my questions rather than not addressing them.

I only hope the school board rethinks the way in which we're implementing the K-8 system being that the Howe proposal should be the logical last step, not the first. Let's really try to reach our goals for the good of the entire district.

Thank you,
Joyce Wachala

Hi Joyce,

I wanted to respond to the observation that "parents and students will always be around." I think there really is something special about the number of Howe parents and guardians that contribute hundreds of volunteer hours to the school. It may be higher proportionately than many other schools and definitely contributes to Howe's success. I think the teachers might agree. I remember Maxine Brisport's attending a Howe PTO meeting last year and saying she had never seen so many parents attending a PTO meeting. I made a list for myself this morning of the Howe families that I am aware of that not only bring their enthusiam to Howe events, but also devote hours and days organizing events, volunteering in classrooms, etc. I came up with 20 families, and as I wrote this I thought of 4 more, and I don't even know most of the older kids and their families! That's more than 3 families per classroom! It's pretty amazing, and really affects how the kids experience the school.

Thanks,
Caroline Robinson
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Denise Della Villa



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Join date : 2009-02-05

PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 9:01 pm

I just have to make a statement.

Today I received a phone call from a parent who had gone into an Upper Union St. business and was asked to signed a petition against the proposal. The parent was appalled at being asked to sign this. I then received a second phone call from another parent who also visited the same Upper Union St. business. This parent was also asked to sign the petition. The parent asked a question about the the petition because it was "vague". The parent then stated that they were for the proposal and why. The business owner then said that the person soliciting the petition said that the district wanted to CLOSE Howe school.

My response is this. I have no problem with parents wanting the city, neighbors, and business owners to be aware of what is going and for those people to form their own opinions. Lying to business owners for support is just plain deceitful and shameful!
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Mary Kay Fenner



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 11:06 pm

Upon looking over all of these postings and reading that lovely article today in the Gazette I can't believe that this is what is happening. Everyone opposed from the school meetings to the postings to the School board all we have heard is you only want to be heard. It is your right etc. Really??? Posting and supporting a meeting for only those who are oppose?? Great lesson to teach your children fabulous role models. We don;t like your side of things so your not invited to the party! If the Board of Education stated that they only wanted the people in favor of this proposal at all of the open school discussions I can only imagine from the newspaper article today what would have happened . What next? It appears as though some of those opposed feel the need to bring in the merchants on Union Street. Maybe we should hold a meeting right at the intersection of Union and Baker and let the merchants on union Street suggest how we should raise our children, they certainly would not have any other motives besides wanting what was best for our children. I suggest that you look to yourselves and think why you would even entertain a meeting on this subject when only the people oppose are asked to be there. I believe that history has shown what happens when only one side is heard from. This crazy situation has to stop before so much damage is done that there is no coming back from it. So much for the Howe family community.
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Not a howe dad



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 11:23 pm

Mary Kay Fenner wrote:
I believe that history has shown what happens when only one side is heard from. This crazy situation has to stop before so much damage is done that there is no coming back from it. So much for the Howe family community.

This isn't just about the "Howe family community", which only represent about 20% of the school district, and for the life of me can't figure out why the superintendent is trying to pacify all your needs and not do what he was appointed to do and that is do what's best for the MAJORITY of the kids.
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A Schdy Lifer



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PostSubject: This is a Nightmare   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 11:36 pm

Mary Kay Fenner wrote:
Upon looking over all of these postings and reading that lovely article today in the Gazette I can't believe that this is what is happening. Everyone opposed from the school meetings to the postings to the School board all we have heard is you only want to be heard. It is your right etc. Really??? Posting and supporting a meeting for only those who are oppose?? Great lesson to teach your children fabulous role models. We don;t like your side of things so your not invited to the party! If the Board of Education stated that they only wanted the people in favor of this proposal at all of the open school discussions I can only imagine from the newspaper article today what would have happened . What next? It appears as though some of those opposed feel the need to bring in the merchants on Union Street. Maybe we should hold a meeting right at the intersection of Union and Baker and let the merchants on union Street suggest how we should raise our children, they certainly would not have any other motives besides wanting what was best for our children. I suggest that you look to yourselves and think why you would even entertain a meeting on this subject when only the people oppose are asked to be there. I believe that history has shown what happens when only one side is heard from. This crazy situation has to stop before so much damage is done that there is no coming back from it. So much for the Howe family community.

I am just sick to my stomach the way that this is becoming out of control. I use to look forward to volunteering at school and being there but now I dread going there because of the parting of the sides. Some teachers are for it - some aren't. Some parents are for it - some aren't. That part is ok but then you have comments made about hear say and accusations of our integrity because we don't agree with you. People have to defend themselves. This is craziness! Children are definitely being affected. Friendships are suffering and local businesses don't know who to believe anymore.

Tomorrow is the last day to turn in your surveys. Please turn them in. The board needs to finalize this nonsense so that we can move on - hopefully we can. Unfortunately it has gotten to the point where either way this is going to cause major upsets with one side or the other. I will be disappointed if I have to send my sixth grader to Mont Pleasant in the fall, but you know what that will just mean. I will have to divide my extra time into two schools instead one school getting all my attention and dedication.
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un autre prof



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Thu 12 Feb 2009, 11:41 pm

To "Not a howe dad,' I think the title of this thread explains the concerns of "the Howe family community.".I think that there are other threads where one can express concerns about other issues and other schools. I am totally in favor of this proposal because it is the best thing for the children.

On another note, I too heard about the petition given to the Upper Union merchants concerning the closing? of Howe school. I contacted the Upper Union Street merchants and informed them that the Howe School was not closing and they should contact the PTO or the superintendent about what is really happening. I also told them that I was dismayed that some parents would use deceitful means to influence outcomes and by doing so reflects badly on the good name of the Howe community. I am saddened that some people resort to this tactic.
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un autre prof



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 12:02 am

As A Schdy Lifer has posted , please send in your surveys. Tomorrow is the last day.
The PTO has been charged by the President of the BOE to conduct this survey. The PTO's integrity has been called into question by some parents. Those of you who have questioned their integrity, please look at the big picture--- You may find yourselves in their shoes some day. The people on the PTO have done so much for our school and volunteered so much time and effort. Our PTO is above reproach and they would do nothing deceitful to hurt our school. They will count all of the survey results.
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Not a howe dad



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 12:21 am

[quote="un autre prof"]To "Not a howe dad,' I think the title of this thread explains the concerns of "the Howe family community.".I think that there are other threads where one can express concerns about other issues and other schools. I am totally in favor of this proposal because it is the best thing for the children.

My concern is that the"Howe family community" think they are the only ones affected by this move, which mentioned earlier, are the minority of students in the district. And if you have to read about it in this thread then too bad. Sorry I posted an opinoin on "your thread".

Also, you are in favor of the proposal because it is best for "the children". Who's children? Certainly not my own.
Something that is best for the children involves the majority of the district and not a select few .
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