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 Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School

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wachala1



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 8:14 am

The meeting on Tuesday, February 17th at the Schenectady Downtown Library from 6-9 pm is open to ALL. Those who do and do not agree with this proposal for whatever reasons. I chose the library as the Howe Community has not had an unbiased forum to voice their concerns. Of course we all have our opinions and as adults we should be able to express those freely without feeling threatened.

Both Gershon's and Salmanack's on Upper Union street have petitions to sign. On top os each petition sheet simply state "Presented to the Schenectady Board of Education the following petition in opposition to the current Howe School Proposal". There is also a 2 page cover to the petition as well. The first item states "Whereas the proposal will take all existing Howe kindergarten through 6th grade students out of the current location on Baker Avenue in Schenectady and move them into the Central Park Middle School along with the current 7th and 8th grade students. Combining Howe and Central Park Middle Schools into a k-8 program".

I have not mislead any businesses as to the proposition and today I will leave copies of the 2 cover pages at Gershon's and Salmanack's if any parents would like to view them.

Thank you,
Joyce wachala

Joyce Wachala
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pjfenf



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PostSubject: PTO member speaks   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 10:53 am

I take exception to your comment stating that the reason that you are holding a forum at the library is to have an unbiased forum in which to express your opinions. The meetings which took place at Howe School and Central Park were not biased in the least. In addition, there was also a PTO meeting last week at Howe where parents were able to express their opinions freely. To imply that these meetings were biased is unfair and exaggerated. What makes our PTO successful is that we have parents from all walks of life who participate through attending events and volunteering their time. I would hate to see people feel that they should not attend our meetings or events because we are a biased group. The ones who would suffer from this would be our children. The only thing that this is doing is creating more turmoil for them
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Mary Kay Fenner



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 11:08 am

Wachala1- Really???? In all of your previous postings, in regards to this meeting , you clearly state all those opposed or in disagreement with and not in favor with, were invited to attend, No mention of everyone. In the newspaper article yesterday- you are named as the person who is organizing Tuesday meeting for the opponents. Not everyone- the opponents. How very politically correct of you now to state no its for everyone for and against. My feeling is some of the opposing families have learned very well from politicans- use the fear factor- do not give both sides- When you asked the merchants on Union to offer to have people sign a petition did you also offer one that stated that if the elementary school were to get changed over to Central Park that the plan was to turn the Howe Building into a early education program or a continuing adult education program? Did not see that in your posting. No it was "somehow" conveyed to some merchants that the Howe building was going to close no other option. To the family who is convinced that their 1st admendant rights were violated when their posting was taken down or not entered and wants to go to the American Civil Liberites Union. Have you not read the other posts opposing this proposal? So why would they only not post yours? But of course use the idea that your civil rights have been violated, that will get you in print everytime. To the author of the article Michael Goot- great job- it was fabulous how you presented both sides. From your article it appears as though you never questioned why only a meeting for opponents? Why would only this one posting not be shown when there are others in opposition being posted?
Again I ask you directly- since you are all aware that there are no other options in Schenectady but to attend middle schools that are failing what are your plans for middle school? Or in the next 4 years is that when you will then start a new campaign to not send your children to Mont Pleasant Middle School because it effects you directly. Or do you not plan on living in the district? Or is your plan to go to a private school? Joyce since you stated that you will never agree to this proposal- what are your plans if it does get passed?
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butterball



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 11:54 am

[quote="Not a howe dad"]
un autre prof wrote:
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 .

Not a Howe Dad,
You are right this change affects all of us in different ways. The Howe family is having a bit of a family dispute right now and the rest of the district is being taken along for the ride. These parents need to be a model of peaceful resolution to problems to their children. They need to come into some reconcilliation somehow but their pleas asking the board of Ed into a rushed decision is not the solution.

I have confidence that the board understands that they are entrusted to the entire district - not just one school - and will try to do what's best for all the children in the district. Anyway, I pray they do.
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wachala1



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 12:36 pm

Mary Kay,

The meeting on February 17th is open to everyone. It's a public place and all sides can take part. I am classifying this as a forum for those parents and public opposed to the proposal. It is a chance for parents and the general public to sit together and discuss the propsal. This propsal affects more than just Howe, it affects Woodlawn and Paige students, property owners in the upper Union Street area and it's not solving our Middle School dilema.

Why, if our Middle Schools (and our High School) are on a list of schools in not good standing would we want to move an elementary school (which is #1 in the district) into that arena? Won't Howes standing then plummet as CP will be on this list for two more years?

Howe will lose teachers! We will probably lose our Principal. We will lose Howe as we know it, in it's most successful capacilty.

Why isn't Woodlawn changing to a K -8, they have the facilities for it? Isn't the logical move to get those schools which can house k-8's started, then close off CP to Howe? Why, if Howe parents are so afraid to send their children to Mt. Pleasant (because classes are too big) do they think it's okay to send Paige and Woodlawn children there? By closing one middle school off, we're creating more of a burden on the other 2 schools.

Mary Kay, directly to you, there are other options. We just haven't had the opportunity to voice them. We need to correct our middle schools, not simply add a k-6 program into the setting and yet mask the real problem.

Schenectady School district has a chance to set the bar high. Howe has set that bar. Let's leave it alone. Let's emulate it. Let's think through the k-8 model as it seems to be wanted, yet we haven't yet figured out the best way to implement it in a district friendly manner.

Also, in relation to the petition, I have not mislead any business owners on the propsal. The cover pages are available as well (please see my last posting) at both locations.

Thank you,

Joyce Wachala


Last edited by wachala1 on Sun 15 Feb 2009, 10:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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A Schdy Lifer



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 1:23 pm

wachala1 wrote:
Mary Kay,

The meeting on February 17th is open to everyone. It's a public place and all sides can take part. I am classifying this as a forum for those parents and public opposed to the proposal. It is a chance for parents and the general public to sit together and discuss the propsal. This propsal affects more than just Howe, it affects Woodlawn and Paige students, property owners in the upper Union Street area and it's not solving our Middle School dilema.

Why, if our Middle Schools (and our High School) are on a list of schools in not good standing would we want to move an elementary school (which is #1 in the district) into that arena? Won't Howes standing then plummet as CP will be on this list for two more years?

Howe will lose teachers! We will probably lose our Principal. We will lose Howe as we know it, in it's most successful capacilty.

Why isn't Woodlawn changing to a K -8, they have the facilities for it? Isn't the logical move to get those schools which can house k-8's started, then close off CP to Howe? Why, if Howe parents are so afraid to send their children to Mt. Pleasant do they think it's okay to send Paige and Woodlawn children there? By closing one middle school off, we're creating more of a burden on the other 2 schools.

Mary Kay, directly to you, there are other options. We just haven't had the opportunity to voice them. We need to correct our middle schools, not simply add a k-6 program into the setting and yet mask the real problem.

Schenectady School district has a chance to set the bar high. Howe has set that bar. Let's leave it alone. Let's emulate it. Let's think through the k-8 model as it seems to be wanted, yet we haven't yet figured out the best way to implement it in a district friendly manner.

Also, in relation to the petition, I have not mislead any business owners on the propsal. The cover pages are available as well (please see my last posting) at both locations.

Thank you,

Joyce Wachala

Joyce,

Once again, there is no guarantee that Howe won't be losing the teacher's anyways even if we stay where we are. All jobs in the district on the whole each year are up for reassignment so I really wish you would stop insisting that these teachers and principal are not coming. I truly believe that each of them with the exception of the 6th grade teachers are going to be able to come if they want too and that some of them may choose to not to come for their own personal reasons.

Mary Kay and the rest of us parents of the older kids DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MPMS LOCATION - it is the class size that bothers us. We want our children to succeed in 7th and 8th grade and truly feel extending the Howe community for middle school years will not damage our credibility as a leading school in elementary testing and I also feel that it will pull the test score number up for the "Central Park Middle School" and we will be able to breath a sigh of relief when we have only two middle schools on the NCLB list. Once again next year is the only year that the school will not have families that started the Howe Program from the beginning - are you saying that our Howe graduates become stupid after leaving our school and shouldn't be entitled to the same programs that King Magnet school is being offered? If our 6th grader's are testing great, wouldn't they test great as 7th graders if they are kept together instead of mixing with several other schools?? I truly think so - but since you are not a parent of a 6th grader currently you are just blowing this out of the water with all this opposition. You don't see anyone of us who are for it making petitions and causing rallies. You are dividing this community in such a hurtful way. I have stated I have been a member for 34 years and not until recently was I ever so disgusted with the way the parents are behaving.

We have a right to our opinion. We have right to post it. We have a right to contact our Board by email. But forming sides is ridiculous!!!!

Let me just ask you one question - when are you going to stand outside with picket signs? Please let me know so I don't drive my kids by during that.
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pjfenf



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 2:09 pm

wachala1 wrote:
Mary Kay,

The meeting on February 17th is open to everyone. It's a public place and all sides can take part. I am classifying this as a forum for those parents and public opposed to the proposal. It is a chance for parents and the general public to sit together and discuss the propsal.

I am pleased to see that you are having an open forum. However, you did not address my concern from your first post this morning. I would feel better knowing that do not consider your home school PTO meetings as a biased forums. I have many friends at Howe, parents and teachers alike, and I respect their opinions on the proposal even if they do not agree with my own. What I don' t agree with is the premise that the meetings that have taken place so far have been biased. I think that the members in attendance at each of these meetings has had the opportunity to voice their concerns. I really hope that you as a Howe parent do not feel that you can not rely on the PTO for support. If you had been in attendance at the Feb 5th meeting, you would have heard the concerns and the ideas of parents and staff with differing opinions. To my recollection, no one was made to feel like their opinion did not count.
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Mary Kay Fenner



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 2:31 pm

How very convenient that you now want to state that your meeting is for everyone now. Do you deny that you offered the meeting for anyone who opposes in your past postings? Were you mis- represented in the news paper? Your characterized as the person who is organizing the meeting for the opponents. At no time did you ever use the words everyone either for or against, never, until to was brought up last night.

Please do not insinuate or insult me with your idea that I am afraid to send my son to Mont Pleasant school next year. I live right by the Mont Pleasant school, my children participate in programs at Mont Pleasant school. I am not one of the families who did not even think twice about using the words "that " part of the city or "those" kids in regards to this proposal , insulting most the families and children that our children go to school with now. What I am afraid of though is a failing middle school system. And if you have the answers or options to that NOW would be the time to either bring them up or discuss them while all of these "discussions" are going on or you could of course wait until it is your child ready for middle school, and then bring it up. My point was made very well by Schd Lifer- Keep the classes smaller- keep these children with the staff that they know and respect and who know them.

I do not think that Howe is going to be unique in finding itself losing teachers/staff. You have absolutley no guarantee who will be with the school wether this proposal goes through or not and that has nothing to do with any of this but has everything to do with the economy.

I do believe that you mis-lead the Union Street merchants- When you do not offer all of the proposal that is mis-leading. When you do let them know what the plans are of the building, and that there will still be people/ families there some of may still want to take advantage of the merchants on Union Street. That is mis-leading
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HoweMom2



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PostSubject: i agree   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 2:50 pm

Joyce i agree with what you stated. I personally don't mind the k-8 idea but not moving it to CMPS and it really is the teachers and Principal that make Howe great!

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
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Karen Kirstein



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 3:12 pm

Let it go and take a breather, Mary Kay. You have my complete and utter respect. You are exactly the kind of parent I want to work with professionally and personally. But I think to make some good come out of all this dialogue, we have to step back. It has been very educational to read about the differences and similarities of opinion within our community. It's good to know that we can all go to the meeting next week without feeling like we're crashing someone's party. It has been good to go to the previous meetings where everyone was decent and intelligent. Perhaps we should all just sit back and watch the process unfold at this point. Write your comments to Mr. Ely and the Board of Education. Wait for the outcome of the Howe PTO generated survey. The Upper Street petition is just one piece of the puzzle and it will be up to the Board to weigh its merrits against the other expressions of opinion at hand.

One way or the other, we're going to be togther come September.
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butterball



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 3:59 pm

Karen Kirstein wrote:
Let it go and take a breather, Mary Kay. You have my complete and utter respect. You are exactly the kind of parent I want to work with professionally and personally. But I think to make some good come out of all this dialogue, we have to step back. It has been very educational to read about the differences and similarities of opinion within our community. It's good to know that we can all go to the meeting next week without feeling like we're crashing someone's party. It has been good to go to the previous meetings where everyone was decent and intelligent. Perhaps we should all just sit back and watch the process unfold at this point. Write your comments to Mr. Ely and the Board of Education. Wait for the outcome of the Howe PTO generated survey. The Upper Street petition is just one piece of the puzzle and it will be up to the Board to weigh its merrits against the other expressions of opinion at hand.

One way or the other, we're going to be togther come September.

Thank you Karen!! It had to be said!!
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KMCB



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 6:11 pm

I would like to personally thank Joyce for organizing a meeting! Especially since there are a lot of people in the City that this decission affects and we have not been invited to prior meetings. My son came home with a letter on tuesday saying the district wanted to close CPMS and they would be sending our children to MPMS. We were given no notice, there were no meetings or surveys. I have read through a lot of the posts on this site and can't help but get the impression that there is a sense of entitlement here. I find it insulting to read comments such as, "its the class sizes that bother us" or "I think that there are other threads where one can express concerns about other issues and other schools." What you fail to see is that this affects us too, its not all about you. If larger class sizes are not good enough for your children then why should they be exceptable for mine? I bought my house under the impression that my kids would go to Woodlawn Elementary and then CPMS. You made the choice to fill out a piece of paper and to send your kids to Howe, knowing that they would then go to MPMS. Now all of the sudden (I know 5 years keeps getting repeated over and over again, but if most people didn't know I don't think it counts) everything is going to change to suit a very small percentage of the children in the City and the rest of us are just suppose to go along for the ride. This is a decission that should have more time and thought put into it.
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Not a howe dad



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Fri 13 Feb 2009, 6:26 pm

[quote="butterball"]
Not a howe dad wrote:
un autre prof wrote:
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 .

Not a Howe Dad,
You are right this change affects all of us in different ways. The Howe family is having a bit of a family dispute right now and the rest of the district is being taken along for the ride. These parents need to be a model of peaceful resolution to problems to their children. They need to come into some reconcilliation somehow but their pleas asking the board of Ed into a rushed decision is not the solution.

I have confidence that the board understands that they are entrusted to the entire district - not just one school - and will try to do what's best for all the children in the district. Anyway, I pray they do.

Thank you for acknowledging that this should not be a rushed decision and precisely the reason that a recommendation should not be proposed on Feb. 25.
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teachermom



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PostSubject: Idea   Sat 14 Feb 2009, 11:23 am

Obviously there has been much discussion in regards to the faculty of Howe picking up and moving to CP as part of this transition being successful. I have seen postings claiming that the teachers are for and are against this move. As a teacher myself I know that it is very difficult for the teachers to speak out publically either way without feeling their will be some retribution. An idea might be to somehow give the teachers a truely anonymous survey so that we can get a real sense of what they wish will happen since they are the most affected along with our children. I would be interested to have the Superintendent, BOE or PTO comment on this being a possiblity. I understand that ultimately the teachers are emplyees of the district and can be moved at any time to any building but since the current Howe staff moving together seems to be a critical component to those who are in full support of this, I think it would be important input to have.
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lafeal



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PostSubject: Woodlawn Parent perspective   Sun 15 Feb 2009, 12:45 am

I am a Woodlawn parent and I have been asking people to sign a petition that opposes the proposal. Today I spoke with a Howe parent and as I spoke with him I heard in his voice that he could careless about my child that has to go to Mont Pleasant next year. Of course, Howe parents want this proposal to go through. What parent wouldn't want ALL THE PERKS!!!!!!!!!! THE NASA PROGRAM, YOUR MAGNET SCHOOL IS ALREADY TAGGED AS ONE OF THE BEST ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS IN SCHENECTADY. K-8 at CP will be overwhelmed with over 500 children all different ages. The B.O.E. mentions that they want a "community style school" well if you haven't noticed your students don't come from one community, they are bussed all over Sch'dy . Most of them only see each other in school. Why doesn't Eric start at a non-magnet school and make them "community" schools. What ever happen to the good old days. I don't care if the playground they are going to build at CP for the Howe magnet school is in the budget or not. TEACHER'S are still going to getting FIRED!!!!!! NO QUESTION!! They didn’t budget for them. I believe they will move FDR over to the Howe, I wouldn't put it past them. There's no room for a playground for the FDR children, what about them. FDR children don't even have a stinking playground and the District wants to spend money at CP for 5 year olds to attend there. Here‘s a thought, since the District took out the 6th graders out of the middle schools and they want to fill the empty seats at CP, MP and Oneida, place the 9th graders there. It's harder for a 9th grader to enter a high school then a 6th grade to enter middle school.
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lafeal



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Sun 15 Feb 2009, 11:19 am

Dear Mary Kay

I just wanted to to say that you are right parenting doesn't stop when you drop your children off at the front door of school. I've been saying this for years, parents need to get involved in their children school, go through their bags, and folders. That's what makes a child successful. Schenectady Teachers are awesome. I love my Woodlawn Teachers and everything they do for my children. But I need to be that person at home that tells my children how awesome their teacher is and know what they are learning. And I feel that teachers need to get the parents involved in the classroom. I am totally against this porposal by the way, Because the class sizes are way to big at least at my school it is. And my son won't be in a "community base enviroment" that when he has to go to MP. Why don't they get the 9th graders to fill the empty seats at the middle schools.
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wachala1



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PostSubject: Re: Proposed Changes to Howe Magnet School   Mon 16 Feb 2009, 10:07 pm

Here's my dilemma. Right now there are 697 - 6th graders (going into 7th) and 767 - 7th graders (going into 8th in September). Total of 1,464 students (with 51 remaining at King along with an undetermined 8th grade class). Right now there are 548 students at Oneida, 695 at MP and 538 at Central Park. We all agree that the middle schools are too crowded now.

If left alone, and we divided the 1,464 students between 3 middle schools, that would be approximately 488 students per middle school. That's right around the numbers in the elementary schools currently. This would be a better way to redistrict and each middle school would have lower numbers, hence smaller classes.

Why hasn't this approach been mentioned.

Thank you,

Joyce Wachala
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