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 Howe and CPMS

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RLT



Posts : 2
Join date : 2009-02-04

PostSubject: Howe and CPMS   Thu 05 Feb 2009, 12:37 pm

I am not a parent or grandparent at Howe,but a retired teacher who knows both buildings well.
I attended the meeting at CPMS out of curiosity.
Almost none of the real educational issues of the 7-8 aspect were raised or have been in the forum.
1. A very small middle grades school has too few students to support a diverse program of courses and challenges. We shut down two small 7-8 in early 90s as ineffecient.
2. There are too few students for a strong band,orchestra,choir,clubs,sports,etc..
3. This plan would have ONE teacher for each subject both years. One math teacher for 7th and 8th grade,for example. Some obvious possible issues there.
4. Mrs Coffey not guaranteed.
5.Not clear if Home Ec,Technology,will be available.

Other general issues of CPMS:
Not a attractive building or site.
Hilly outdoor space. Don't expect district to transport playground equipment to CP.
No bathroom on first floor. Some kids will be two floors from the designated restrooms of the grade.
NO public agency can get the required work done in this short time. Every time th district promises and fails. Ask Paige, and the 3 new schools opened this year.
Truely keeping kids apart is nearly impossible.

As to questions raised:
Staff including teachers are not saying much as this is not tolerated by the Superintendent. Criticism is not tolerated.
As to rushed project: It is the style. Rush so nobody can question or block. Input not desired.
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Admin
Admin


Posts : 137
Join date : 2008-10-29

PostSubject: Re: Howe and CPMS   Thu 05 Feb 2009, 5:35 pm

RLT wrote:
I am not a parent or grandparent at Howe,but a retired teacher who knows both buildings well.
I attended the meeting at CPMS out of curiosity.
Almost none of the real educational issues of the 7-8 aspect were raised or have been in the forum.
1. A very small middle grades school has too few students to support a diverse program of courses and challenges. We shut down two small 7-8 in early 90s as ineffecient.
2. There are too few students for a strong band,orchestra,choir,clubs,sports,etc..
3. This plan would have ONE teacher for each subject both years. One math teacher for 7th and 8th grade,for example. Some obvious possible issues there.
4. Mrs Coffey not guaranteed.
5.Not clear if Home Ec,Technology,will be available.

Other general issues of CPMS:
Not a attractive building or site.
Hilly outdoor space. Don't expect district to transport playground equipment to CP.
No bathroom on first floor. Some kids will be two floors from the designated restrooms of the grade.
NO public agency can get the required work done in this short time. Every time th district promises and fails. Ask Paige, and the 3 new schools opened this year.
Truely keeping kids apart is nearly impossible.

As to questions raised:
Staff including teachers are not saying much as this is not tolerated by the Superintendent. Criticism is not tolerated.
As to rushed project: It is the style. Rush so nobody can question or block. Input not desired.

A: You are correct. Much of the attention in our forums and meetings has been centered on the elementary children and how they will adjust to being around the older children. I will attempt to answer your concerns here in the order you asked.

1. I believe it is important to remember that we are not opening small 7-8 programs. We are proposing opening K-8 schools. Because there will be at least one full “team” of secondary teachers to serve these students’ needs, the core curriculum will be covered. This will allow that same team of teachers to work with the students and their families for two years in middle school. They will all get to know each other’s teaching and learning styles thoroughly over this difficult time in those children’s lives.

2. Actually, since we are talking about a K-8 that will settle in around 550 students after a couple years, it will allow this magnet to grow their own bands, orchestra, clubs, etc. We intend to continue to allow these middle level children to participate in the district’s modified sports program.

3. I discussed the positives of this in answer one, however there is always the possibility that personality clashes could occur as well over a two year period. We certainly can use those situations as learning experiences for both staff and students to expand their abilities to work with difficult people and everyone can grow from such an experience. This is very similar to a model called “looping” that has been very effective in many elementary schools across the country.

4. There are no guarantees that anybody will stay in any job in any district. With the voluntary and involuntary transfer rights for both the employees and the administration it would be foolish to guarantee these individual personnel items.

5. The Central Park Middle School has excellent facilities for these special areas of technology and Family and Consumer Science classes and they are mandated by state law. These will certainly continue.

Under general issues:

a. The CPMS building site itself has been described by many as the most beautiful location overlooking the park to old and ugly. I guess it is in the eye of the beholder. The district’s buildings are old and with age comes problems. Our capital improvement efforts over the last ten years have been addressing and continue to address the age-induced problems.

b. The district is committed to putting a new quality playground in this location if this proposal goes forward. A location for the playground has been tentatively identified by the current administration and facilities department . I welcome those who are concerned about this to make an appointment with the middle school principal to visit the building site.

c. Bathroom needs are being addressed this summer if this proposal goes forward. The lack of bathrooms in kindergarten rooms is one drawback to this building being a K-8. Unfortunately this is the case in most of our buildings. Our teachers, administrators, staff and students have adjusted over the years.

d. We have a good record as a district of keeping our construction work on a tight time schedule. We were able to open three schools this past fall with less than five months lead time. I believe we can be assured this record will continue. Construction, as many have pointed out, is not always easily predictable. Weather can be a factor but with both inside and outside work to be done, we can always continue work despite weather interference.

e. It will be a management and security issue of primary importance should this proceed. The district is committed to keeping the resources available to the staff that they need to ensure the safety of the building. One strength of a K-8 is allowing controlled interaction between older and younger students. The form this takes will be determined by the staff but I suspect some obvious ones are mentoring/big brother/big sister programs, reading and writing help, and math tutoring, as well as some limited recreational activities.

f. Your questions regarding my willingness to listen to staff opinion is a concern. I have many staff members who e-mail me, call me, stop me in the hallways and come to meetings to voice their opinions. I am always willing to listen. I am not always willing to agree with the opposite opinion, however I have been known to change my mind. One very recent example of this is our decision to stagger the start of the day in a K-8 setting and run separate buses. Both of these were staff concerns and strong opinions which I have chosen to follow. Neither of these was my original plan.

g. Five years is not considered rushing in most situations but because this K-8 ideas languished for a few years the discussion died down. We simply didn’t think we could accomplish it until recently. That said, we are taking input from everybody until the board is satisfied we have considered every concern. This discussion board is providing the public with that opportunity along with e-mails, phone calls, meetings and open forums to get input. Perception is some people’s reality but this input is being considered and valid concerns are being raised and addressed as we go through this process.


Last edited by Admin on Thu 05 Feb 2009, 11:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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tdrparent



Posts : 22
Join date : 2009-01-23

PostSubject: 550 students   Thu 05 Feb 2009, 10:10 pm

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!
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Doug



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Join date : 2009-02-06

PostSubject: Re: Howe and CPMS   Fri 06 Feb 2009, 2:58 pm

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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