Monday, March 14, 2011

Recommendations on District 150 school closures

... or should I say, the reshuffling of black and economically disadvantaged children south of Forest Hill continues unchecked. At a meeting this important - it is unfortunate that the people who receive funding to look after the rights of those in the black community were not present. The following recommendations on school closings were presented to the BOE this evening:

Close Columbia Middle School
Close Greeley Alternative School (high school)
Close the Knoxville Center (middle school)
Close Garfield Primary School

Get rid of the Edison Company and continue the Edison Program.

Greeley Alternative School and the Knoxville Center will be combined and housed at Woodruff High School. (middle school on first floor) (high school on second floor). The new program will be called the Woodruff Technical Program.

The children at Garfield will be sent to Harrison. The children at Whitter, who came from Tyng will be sent to Harrison school or Trewyn School.

Trewyn will become K - 8th. The children from Tyng who are at Whitter and who have siblings of age that attend Harrison School - will be required to have all their children attend school together at Harrison School.

Graduation requirements for Manual will change.

Trewyn will house an IB Program.

Discontinue Open Court Reading.

Washington Gifted was not audited and stands intact.

Just too much nonsense to put it all down right now. More to come as I review my notes...

26 comments:

Carrie W said...

All I can say is wow!
Will look forward to your future comments after my brain calms down.

Emerge Peoria said...

My brain needs some calming as well. WOw.

JC Friberg said...

I'm with you both. Sitting up (instead of sleeping!) with my mind racing after being at that meeting. Wow is right.

I do like the ideas for what the board has in mind for WHS. I think it could be a really good thing.

Emerge, I didn't even understand the hidden impact of the proposed school closure plan until I read your post here. You're absolutely right. Some kids will be in 3 schools in 3 years. I couldn't get past the closings and trying to write down the various scenarios for later consideration. that much student movement is crazy, particularly with what we know about academic performance after a school move....and that doesn't even touch on the feelings of families displaced from their schools all over again.

And...early childhood education. Cutting the equivalent of half of the program. Depending on ONLY block grants to fund preK education, which tells me D150 has zero priority for educating their youngest charges if they aren't willing to put even a dollar of their own money into ECE.

And Edison. I couldn't believe how it was highlighted as the curriculum implemented with the highest level of fidelity, with the most success, with the best buy in from all stakeholders...and the recommendation is to axe it. With no plan except to say, we'll continue to do it ourselves. I'd sure like some more details...

We'll all have to strap in for a LONG meeting in 2 weeks.

Dennis in Peoria said...

Emerge, on Elaine Hopkins Peoria Story, she listed Calvin Coolidge as closing, not Columbia. Initial PJS article only listed Garfield, did not name 2nd school. So which school is it?

Frustrated said...

WOW! Emerge and JC, thank you for explaining what went on.

I am confused how Trewyn will be an "IB" school?? The IB program is a 2-year program spanning 11th and 12th grade.

The Middle Years Program (MYP) is precursor to the IB and spans grades 6th - 10th. MYP is an expensive program to implement, requires the reworking of the curriculum and extensive teacher training. It doesn't make sense that if the District would embark on such a program that it would not design a school setting that would encompass all these grades in order reaps the benefits from such an involved program.

Furthermore, the MYP program has an extensive writing and project component and much of testing is focused on analysis and application. IMO, a student must be performing at grade level in order to have a chance of being successful in this program.

That is why I have always proposed that an MYP magnet school be developed.

JC Friberg said...

Dennis, it was as follows:

1. Close the following: Garfield, Columbia, Alternative High School, Greeley

2. Terminate Edison contact

ECE and other changes happened, too. One thing that I think I heard (but need clarification) is that with the IB program going in at Trewyn, ALL staff would be replaced. I assume many would be spread out to other areas of the district, but I'm not certain on that point. There was SO much information tossed around it was hard to keep straight.

Emerge Peoria said...

Still reviewing my notes Frustrated, the there will be a Middle Schools Program at Trewyn School.

JC Friberg said...

Changes were PROPOSED. They didn't happen...wanted to clarify what I wrote above. Votes on ALL proposals will be in 2 weeks, 3/28/11 @ RHS.

Frustrated said...

Ok Emerge, but the MYP should span 6th - 10th. Doesn't make sense not to make provisions to have students follow through with this curriculum to its conclusion.

Also, if not run as magnet or choice school, I do not understand how it will work. MYP includes the study of a 2nd language as well which I would think many in the community would have interest in.

Sorry, I am not getting the strategy on this one. AND . . . although I love the MYP and would like to see a magnet school to complement the already existing IB program . . I do not see it as meeting the needs of the majority of Trewyn students.

Mahkno said...

There used to be a strategy of 'economic integration' in North Carolina. It manifested itself in having schools within schools intermixed economically. I wonder if putting some sort of IB in Trewyn is a manifestation of that.

General Parker said...

WOW!!!

Dennis in Peoria said...

JC, I know now, but my earlier post here was made just minutes before PJS updated their article.

I like idea of Edison being dropped; the extra hour of classroom; combining 2 programs/facilities into 1; maybe developing a Career/Technical Center at WHS.

Not crazy about reduction of the Early Childhood Education programs, though.

Sharon Crews said...

There are many things to say "Wow" about. I am pleased with what I have heard so far for the concept of Woodruff. Needless to say, happy about the proposal to stop sending money to Edison.

I am never pleased about closing schools--for all the reasons mentioned above. The district hasn't recovered from the last wave of closures--time is needed to see how things even out with schools that are still open. I can't imagine there being enough room for Garfield kids in other schools.

Since I am the only one who has ever mentioned from the podium in the last two years, at least, the idea of raising the number of credits students should earn--I, of course, am pleased. However, I don't think it's a good idea for MHS students to require more credits than students at PHS and RHS (and I believe the proposal does ask for changes at all high schools). Transferring happens too often in district 150. I can foresee a student from PHS transferring to MHS and finding he/she is short credits or a MHS wanting to transfer to PHS because he/she has enough credits to graduate there.

I am with Frustrated as to all the questions about the IB program--and the expense of training (all these changes were supposed to have cost in mind). Also, I didn't realize there was a lower grade program to lead into the high school IB program--why wasn't that elemented earlier--the RHS IB program has undoubtedly been at a disadvantage. Also, Frustrated is right that the earlier program isn't training ground to raise a student's level--students already have to be at level. Also, great idea thought it might be, parents in the northend aren't going to send students to Trewyn for any kind of program. Too many perceptions changes before that will ever happen.

Of course, all of this has to pass by the board--I can't imagine how that will all shake out. Lathan has done a very good job of touching all the bases--now the board has more on their plates than they have ever had.

Anonymous said...

Warr-Hightower will be flushed out with the Edison program.

Carrie W said...

I find it interesting that all those against the Edison concept are only focusing on the money the district will save. Unfortunately, you have left out the fact that this program has brought some amazing innovation and outstanding support for our teachers that District 150 will not be able to provide. The last I knew, District 150 did not create a research and development department.

Sharon Crews said...

At a recent board meeting stated that her philosophy was that no outside company should run a program for longer than five years. She stated that by then the district should know the program well enough to run it on its own.

That policy seems reasonable to me.

JC Friberg said...

In theory, that sounds good to me, too, Sharon. But, I certainly don't trust that the district will actually replicate Edison with any success. I really wish there was a plan for what they'd put into place. When asked last night, Dr. Lathan's response was: "That will depend on the outcome of your vote." She said that she'd make recommendations at upcoming board meetings about what she wants done at current Edison schools, but I wish we could look at her plans side-by-side with what we have now...right now.

Anonymous said...

From a financial point of view, closing Greeley and moving it to Woodruff does make sense. But has anyone given any fore thought as to the fact at it's present location (which is totally unsuited for that type of school. The good thing about its present location and it's size. It is easy for the staff/campus police officer to know who belongs there and who doesn't. When you move it to a bigger facility and add more people it will add a lot more problems. I know it is about money and not the safety of the staff and students. Is there a plan in place at Woodruff to somehow separate the students and others? Just asking.

JC Friberg said...

Anonymous,

There was mention of the layout at WHS being a positive for this new program. Apparently due to additions, etc. on the original WHS facility, several areas of the school are entirely closed off from others. I've never been outside the large auditorium, so I can't say first hand...I just know it was mentioned as an aspect in favor of the merge.

Emerge Peoria said...

My whole problem with the recommendations is the fact that the schools closing are always south of War Memorial. The children in that area are constantly being asked to adapt, when they are the most vunerable in the District.

The learning opportunities that may shake out in the long run are promising, but in the short run... let's just hope parents are able to keep their students focused.

The audit information for Washington Gifted's curriculm and programs didn't show up on the current plan. They should have been on the block, just like any other school. So, I will be patient and trust that a review of this program has happened as a result of the Trewyn MYP recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Emerge,

While I understand your concern about only schools South of War being closed, isn't that where the population shrinkage is? If the census has taught us nothing, it is that Peoria's population is increasingly moving northward. When the someone says that the District has 13,000 less kids than it used to, in what neighborhoods do you think those kids used to live?

Sharon Crews said...

Anonymous, that might well be the case. However, the students to the north aren't inconvenienced by having to be bused all over creation.

The very parents that should most be involved are, also, now so far away from their children's schools that transportation becomes a problem for them when they do want to visit the schools.

The long bus rides and the detachment from a neighborhood school all cause children to be less involved in school and probably less likely to enjoy school.

Yes, neighborhoods are shutting down--but District 150 isn't just responding to the situation--it's contributing to it.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree, Sharon. The busing is probably a contributor to lack of achievement (as is continual shifting of schools). And I completely agree that D150 is contributing to the "shutting down" of neighborhoods, though there is a bit of a chicken and egg thing going on. Yes, the Northend kids may not have to travel very far by bus, but there is the density of children to support more schools.

I had to pay a parking ticket at City Hall the other day. They have these posters up in the hallway that show population shift (according to the Census) between 2000 and 2010. I don't remember any of the exact numbers, but nearly all of the areas south of War Memorial lost population. On the far southend, I specifically remember that the population loss was "greater than 17%." But schools are fixed assets, geographically speaking. Unless you build a new school in the middle of the remaining kids -- an expense you have routinely opposed -- you have to consolidate into existing buildings.

If you look at the presentation from the Board meeting, it looks like closing Columbia MS will cause the displacement of 184 kids. I had no idea that middle schools were that small -- and likely an inefficient use of resources.

Sharon Crews said...

I realize Columbia is small--but if the only alternative is to bus them all the way to Calvin Collidge, then I think the district needs to go back to the boundary drawing board.

With Whittier being overcrowded alread, I can't see how adding a fifth grade is going to help. I was pleased when Dr. Lathan decided to honor the original promise to send Tyng kids to Harrison--but now Whittier will still be overcrowded. I don't know where the Garfield kids will go--I don't believe the district has looked carefully enough at the numbers. They just close their eyes and hope it will all work out.

So far I haven't heard any firm statements that OSF is going to allow Irving to use the building for yet another year.

Anonymous said...

Sharon and others:

The map I talked about seeing in City Hall has just been posted at Peoria Chronicle: http://peoriachronicle.com/2011/03/21/a-picture-of-peorias-shifting-population/#comments.

As you can see, there is a massive population shift from south to north in Peoria. You can clearly see the District's problem: Too many buildings, not enough kids in them.

I don't know if Columbia has always been a small school, but I bet at one time it served MANY more children. I don't think busing them all to Calvin Coolidge is the best idea, either, but I don't have a better idea. Actually, I don't think they will all be bused to Coolidge -- just half. I would guess that those kids who live in the Franklin primary school area are the ones who will go to Coolidge. For some those kids, being bussed to Coolidge might actually be a shorter ride.

Sharon Crews said...

The problem is that District 150 should have had a master plan before they started closing schools. None of the school closings were done with foresight. They closed their eyes, closed the schools, and hoped for the best. Besides that, even though the population is shrinking in these areas, there are still children living in those areas--their welfare is not being considered in the plans.