Friday, April 15, 2011

Comments From Community Conversations





Linn Meeting Notes




School: Linn Elementary
Date: April 27, 2011
Recorder: Larry Robbins
TopicNotes: board Member Comments Bold

  • Parent would like less moving around for her three kids; will be attending three different schools (in three years).
  • What is the sex offender registry in the neighborhoods of the other schools?
  • Fear concerning neighborhood.
  • Does not like large class sizes.
  • Why are the schools being impacted all on the East side?
  • Add more mentorships.


School: Linn Elementary
Date: April 27, 2011
Recorder: Dr. Stephen Burkholder
TopicNotes: board Member Comments Bold

  • Will there be sufficient room for the specialists?
  • Will there be room for external science instruction?


School: Linn Elementary
Date: April 27, 2011
Recorder: Cindy Kelly
Topic Notes: board Member Comments Bold

  • Does the No Child Left Behind Act have any impact on these decisions? We do not want to lose any ground as we make these changes.
  • Title schools—when merged you get a pass for a year on making AYP
  • Will class sizes be 22-24 with or without a para? Typically we do not put in a para until classes are over 25. Is 22-24 manageable for one teacher? It is a manageable number, kind of at the high end of what teachers would like to have. When you have children with special needs or behavior management issues, teachers may need more assistance. Those are handled on a case by case basis.
  • Why would you close this school and send the children to Avondale East for one year only and then make them move again? This allows us to have the savings for one year. Avondale East has the space to hold them for one year. During that one year the construction will take place that will allow all students to move to Ross.
  • Will all of the students be bussed? Those that live more than one mile from the school will be bussed.
  • Children will be allowed to ask for transfers to other schools. Some services will only be provided at some schools.
  • Fears about the distances and lack of transportation for getting children to school.
  • Major concern: will we depend on the one bus service that we have now? Will their prices continue to go up for busing? Board is committed to providing transportation if children live less than one mile from school.
  • If children’s safety is a concern, what about the Avondale East area?
  • Staff answered questions about how transfer requests will be handled.
  • There is a big concern about small children walking to school, even for a mile. We will keep exploring this issue, looking for better solutions.
  • Feds have indicated they will hold the line on spending for Title dollars and tighten accountability. One patron does not want us focused on government dollars. Mr. Bagshaw explained how the title programs supplement our ability to do things.
  • We need to do things that bring more revenue to our district and provide for our needs and not be as dependent on the government. The kids are the innocent ones.
  • Why do we have magnet schools—they should all be the same; all kids should have the same opportunities. Every school should have everything if we are going to start downsizing schools. Core curriculum is offered at all schools; curriculum has been aligned with state standards. It is also a factor from Brown v. Board.
  • Most parents here not willing or wanting to send their children to Avondale East. Keep this school open one more year until they can go to Ross. Some don’t even drive through there. A staff member from Avondale East said inside the school is safe, but outside the school is a different story. There has been some discussion of putting a satellite police office at Avondale East.
  • Make room at Linn. The Avondale East area is a drug infested area. People and students see drug deals going down, but the police don’t seem to be able to see it.
  • They are taking schools away from this side of town—it’s always the east side. We don’t need cruzin the hood, we need the hood cleaned up.
  • All kids would benefit from more positive male role models in the schools. Time to look for more grants to get Youth Friends back—set up a formal mentoring program to help kids with the transitions.
  • An employee at Avondale East says she would send her children to Avondale East because of the staff that cares and the principal. You can have problems anywhere, but she has never dealt with the problems.
  • Linn has never had a lock down, heard gunshots or had drug problems. The AE area has a lot of crime that goes unreported.
  • What is the rationale behind this? Why can’t we wait for a year and get everything ready? If we do that we need to make cuts in other areas. None of the choices are easy.
  • What about administrator’s pay? There should be no raises. No one is expecting any raises. Last year the board contributed more toward insurance, but required employees to be engaged in a wellness program. Will the new superintendent make a big salary. No one should get any more than what we paid Dr. Singer and probably not that much. He’d much rather have a group of people to run the school than one person.
  • Newcomer Welcome center should be for everyone locally as well as new people. Any parent should be able to go there to learn to speak English or Spanish or whatever language.
  • Dual language programs have not resulted in additional staff.
  • Concerns about staff and training that will be provided for them; how decisions will be made.
  • Will Mr. Palmer be used in the transition?
  • Appreciates what we are doing; hopes we are not just looking at the black and white but also at how it affects people.


School: Linn Elementary
Date: April 27, 2011
Recorder: Tina Thompson
Topic Notes

  • My number one concern is that I will not send my daughter to Avondale East. What are my options?
  • What if a parent chooses not to send their child to Avondale East?
  • We’re looking at transitioning this year to Avondale East or Ross and then another transition the next year. Will there be counselors to help kids make all those transitions?
  • Are there plans to reintroduce a formal mentoring program?
  • What is the rationale for the various signature schools? Why music at one school and visual arts at another school?
  • Was there any discussion on the facilities committee about the impact of closing so many schools on the east side of town?
  • Did the board give direction to the facilities committee to look specifically at closing schools on the east side?
  • There should be other factors in closing schools other than economics and school size.
  • This is my community and I want to fight this community open. This side of town is going to become a ghost town.
  • We want to see equity in closing schools. Somewhere we should have raised issues about closing schools only on the east side. Look at Randolph—one of the oldest buildings in the district. Why not close Randolph?
  • Will we have enough room for special needs kids when we make the moves?
  • What is the idea or game plan for the schools receiving our kids? Will there going to be animosity or territorial issues?
  • I put in a transfer for my son to go to a magnet school. Is that null and void now?
  • I think teachers need support and guidance in how to express their feelings. Children absorb what teachers are feeling so teachers need help in managing their feelings as we consider closing schools.
  • Place the gymnasium on the Ross side, not the Eisenhower side. Too far to travel for young children. Transition time would take too long.



School:Linn Elementary
Date:April 27, 2011
Recorder:Linda Aldridge
Topic Notes
PresentationInformation presented was a shock to some parents present and not a surprise to others. As revenue declines, unemployment go up, demand for government services go up. We saw an 11% increase in the number of students enrolled in public school. Our free and reduced lunch count is up. There is a decline in State support for public education.
Facilities CommitteeThe facilities committee was comprised of people from all across the community -parents, DCAC, Chamber of Commerce, media, teachers’ association – a very broad based participation. They came up with the P-8 idea.
Cost/studentIt costs more for Stout. Was it an option to close Stout? They did look at closing Stout and the issue was – none of those schools were equipped to handle additional students. It would have required massive construction.
QuincyThis is our only school north of the river. Quinton Heights is recommended to be closed.
Student reassignmentThere is a possibility of not sending fifth grade to middle school. Some parents are concerned that if the school closed they will move to Avondale East and then to Ross. This will affect their learning. Two transitions, two years in a row. I can definitely understand this concern. Is there a plan to ease the transition? The plan had been to try to have all of the things that are here transfer to the new school. Ideally, the only thing that would change would be the building. Why can’t we do combination classrooms for the higher grades to reduce the need for transitions? This doesn’t make a lot of sense. If they had a combination class it would cause less stress. If you are a second grader at Linn, you will be a third grader at Avondale East, fourth grade at Ross and, a fifth grader at Eisenhower. The part where I can definitely understand the stress is the [initial moves] that occur until we have a P-8 campus.
Student Improvement TeamIf they have a successful program at one building, how is that information transferred to the next building, and the next place, and the next? You’ve got a bunch of educators here that are very concerned for our children. We have put years of our lives into these students and we want them to succeed. We want assurance that this information will follow the students. In the past, the information has been scattered to the wind.
Staff assignmentsThere is no way the full staff is going to Avondale East. K going into first grade, they are combining into three classes. They will be integrated and have different teachers. That would probably happen anyway. The alternative would be to make more cuts to programs. It’s been our focus to try not to lay off teachers. The number one thing that makes a difference is the teachers. If we were not to close buildings, you would probably see some attempt to even out class size anyway.
Student transitionsThe more transitions they have, the more likely they will not be successful or graduate from high school. These students have many home issues. Now where is the stability in the school? There is none. The lack of stability will cause students to have abandonment issues. After you save all this money are you going to pay for counseling? I understand your feelings. This is not where our Board wants to be. There has to be a better option than sending them to Avondale East for one year. Send them directly to Ross – build over the summer. What about teacher morale? They are not going to care…No, teachers WILL care. It is that teacher’s job to care about education, even if it is for one year. I certainly hope teachers would care. I don’t think [teachers] would stop caring. Is there any way they could go directly to Ross? She is worried that ELL/special needs students will fall through the cracks because of all the transitions.
Drop-out rateThere will be a drop-out rate that is higher than we want. Are there programs you will put in place for kids that are less mature other than – good luck – go to this school, to this school, to this school. I want to hear your ideas and make sure you are heard.
Teacher reassignmentI give it my all. To go to a school for one year, different philosophies, the people that are going to suffer are the kids. There is no way I am going to pack up my classroom, 90% of it is mine, pack it up, move it, just to know that I am going to move again. I care about every kid in my classroom, but for me it is going to be a get by year, a wasted school year. I want for you to be honest. Tell us what you know. Folks like us are support; you guys really do the work. Ask us how to save money. We can tell you four or five ways.
MentorsWe used to have Youth Friends. I remember I was a Youth Friend. If we could really focus on mentors and on the kids who are going through these crazy transitions, that would give a good role model.
ELL/Student AssignmentThis parent wants to move her child out. Could she choose to apply to a different school and maintain ELL services? It depends; she could apply for a transfer. How likely is it that she will be allowed to transfer? She would have to call demographics. There is a Spanish speaking person there. And if they do not allow the transfer, then what? Right now Avondale East is not an ELL site. They will try to assign ELL students to the ELL site closest to the resident district. The problem is, according to the Brown decision, we need to make a good faith effort to not have racially identifiable schools. If we put an ELL site at Avondale East, we could be out of compliance. When will they know what school they will be assigned to? The Board hearing is tomorrow. After that, they will have time to think about community input before they vote. We will look at Listening Tour information, community meetings, on-line survey results, and everything we get from the hearing. We will take a vote on May 5. After May 5, parents will get a letter telling them where they will be reassigned. Parents will have ten work days to make the decision on whether they want to request a transfer or contest the assignment. It’s not guaranteed that you will be guaranteed a transfer, but if you miss the date, you could go through the regular process.
Special Education TeacherI have a self-contained classroom. I came from a school of over 500 children and then I came to Linn. I would never find another school that has accepted these children the way the staff here did. What concerns me about these large school models, we have a number of children who are medically fragile. To put them in a K-8 setting is difficult. My student is loved; I know she can go to other teachers – receive acceptance and affirmation – my concern is that if we go to a bigger school, that isn’t going to happen. I’ve been in a rural setting that had a P-8 and it didn’t work. I grew up in Overland Park and I hate when we compare Topeka to Kansas City, MO. KCMO has had problems for 52 years.
Busing
  • I found out I have a five-year-old that gets on the bus very early, and gets off at her house at 4:45. She’s on the bus before many people are up in the morning. When we have called the bus barn, it’s like…I’m within the law. I am doing it right. Are you going to have to spend the money to get more buses? We have an extremely liberal transfer policy. We have an extremely complicated busing scheme to try and get kids where they are supposed to go. I think the intent is to try and cut down on [busing] and have a less complicated busing scheme. Spend less on transportation and more on classroom resources. A lot of special education parents are not advocates. The mother said, “I didn’t know I could say anything about that.” I felt badly that I let this child fall through the cracks. Some of the parents are happy to have transportation; they don’t have to drive…
  • Can we reduce busing costs from 1 to 1.5 and use those funds rather than close Linn? Reduce the liberal transfer and busing policies to save money.
  • Will kids be required to walk across 37th Street?
Instructional materialsI want some consideration about where materials will go. In a previous move, we had a large box. They just threw about half of the building’s resources in that box…just thrown in a box. It took two of us a day and a half to go through that box. I want some consideration. We’re surrounded by a beautiful library. Where is this stuff going to go? I’m really concerned about these resources. When we closed buildings before, this wasn’t handled well.
SafetyDo we know how many lock-downs Avondale East had in past years? As far as I know, Linn hasn’t had any. Do I need to find something about how to disarm guns and recognize guns? What are we doing besides putting resource officers on campus? Are we doing anything to make sure [kids are safe]? We do not have multiple lockdowns at Avondale East. I’ve taught over there for the past years. There may have been…they are going to check a house… they just don’t want us out. The kids were safe. The most dangerous area [is in a different part of town.] In my neighborhood, stabbings. It’s not so much the safety; kids are a product of their environment. When I drive down the road, kids are throwing sticks at my car. They are beating dogs with sticks. They run the neighborhood by themselves. The parents are using it as a daycare. How many sex offenders are in the area?
TransferIf a transfer is denied, what happens then? Can they still go to the school they want? You can always decline ELL services but I would advise against it. I don’t know…if I tell you something now – a hypothetical situation dealing with a lot of factors – I’m not trying to evade, just don’t want to [give inaccurate information.]
TransitionsI want to reaffirm, say it again, that is my main objection. The district is moving kids that are at-risk, that live in highly unstable homes.
PrincipalDr. Gordon is the proposed principal at Avondale East. Are every teacher and para over there guaranteed a position, as well as Dr. Gordon? Yes. It is our intent, the primary thing we want to protect is children. We know the way to protect children is to protect [teachers]. Is the idea to scatter everybody throughout the district? No, we will try to bring class size to the district average, so there would be some changes if we didn’t close schools. In my opinion, jobs should be guaranteed for teachers and paras. Since we would actually be growing the campus, hopefully we could keep teachers together. We are going to build capacity, put more capacity there.
ConstructionWhat is the projected completion date? This is not yet established. We haven’t made a decision. There are only four months during the year you can build.
Fifth gradeAre fifth graders supposed to go to East? Ross? There will be multiple transitions. That doesn’t make any sense.
SiblingsWe have always had consideration for siblings. Part of our transfer policy, siblings, special situations …we have always given consideration to these situations.
Fifth grade in one school, younger child in anotherOne of my kids will go to Avondale East, one goes to Ross. That doesn’t make any sense. It’s hard enough to transition to middle school. Why don’t you just keep fifth grade with elementary? What would you do instead? I wouldn’t send kids to a school for one year. I would combine an elementary school and keep kids in the elementary school. I wouldn’t split up siblings. Gas is $4.00/gallon. You can’t get transportation unless you pay, so you are dragging a kid here/there, and taking the kid out of the neighborhood school. All kids in K-5 should stay in K-5 until there is a P-8. There are a lot of parents that already have problems at home and now you want to take kids from a comfortable environment and go into another environment. It’s not the P-8 model that troubles you; it’s that they would transfer to a school before the P-8 campus is completed… Do just one transition rather than two or three. This is the school I’ll go to next year and then I’ll be fine. The whole rationale behind the P-8 is …there is minimal transition. If you’re going to close a school down, close down at one time.
Ross/EisenhowerIf this were to occur the way you see it, Avondale East will not have ELL. When you were talking about P-8, would they have ELL services? The reason with why we are still in flux with ELL, we are trying to figure out what will happen. ELL programs have been placed away from where people live to achieve racial balance. We have families who decline services now because they don’t want to drive out to French. We want to hear from ELL families now, what they would prefer. If Eisenhower were to become an ELL site, they would have three transitions; try to avoid that by having things all set up.
P-8Are they going to try to do P-8 with all schools? Yes. Unfortunately, in this district, there is a history of having a lot of schools and “skinny” academic programs and less programs in [smaller schools]. By starting on the East side with kids who have done with less, they will be able to avail themselves of [opportunities that occur in larger schools].
EquityWhat makes [others] deserving of more services? Nothing, I agree with you. We are trying to work toward [equity]. In order to do that, some structural changes have to take place. Before we make [changes] we want to ask you all.
Property valueWhat will happen to property value? I don’t know. It depends on what happens with the building. If something is done with the school, property values don’t plummet and may go up. Where I lived, Gage Elementary has become the Civic Theater. But if you leave it vacant, it gets run down and falls into disrepair.
BOE membershipDo most of the Board members live in Topeka? All Board members live in the district.
HollandI work at Holland. It’s got character, as do buildings that are housing support staff. What if we close down those, give us time to build onto Eisenhower and Ross, and then close the schools down? It’s going to be uncomfortable. We’ve got fifty or more file cabinets that have to go somewhere. We have compliance issues that come up every day. Why don’t we just flip them and close down the buildings – do it the opposite way – and allow students to get used to a [new setting]? We have to have a transitional team put in place to come up with a plan that takes into account all of the things you are mentioning now so kids don’t fall through the cracks.
TransferParents are saying they won’t go where 501 tells them to go. They will find a way. Parents are going to make the best choices for their children. That is the reality; we can expect them to do what they believe is in their children’s best interests.
Newton, KSThey closed schools. Ten years later, there was a surge in population and then they had to build new schools. Are the P-8 schools going to have enough room? Long term, we are projected to have declining enrollment. All of the rapid growth is happening outside our boundaries.
Transfers/AYPWe transferred in so we could be in the neighborhood schools. We came back to our school – it was a transfer because my child was enrolled in another school. My concern is that we only have five schools in Topeka that are meeting AYP. My daughter wants to be home schooled. Even a substitute throws this child into hysterics. If the adults can’t figure it out, how can the kids figure it out? What schools have made AYP? You could see scores weren’t very different between the two schools. We just put into place an entirely new curriculum. We empowered teachers – got teachers together to write a district curriculum. We had previously left it up to teachers. Now we have an assessment plan. How do you like that? We don’t do Scantron.
Instruction/transfersYou’ve got to let teachers be creative. I understand that, but our kids aren’t succeeding. All these transfers – it’s crazy making. Would you move out of your house before you know where you are going to go? There’s got to be a better way. You can’t expect kids who are in crisis…Just to make sure I understand, you want to have the p-8 model ready before closing schools.
Behavior problemsI would be worried about ELL students because they have additional concerns, language and cultural, and if we are not successfully addressing these concerns now, we need something for the ELL kids.
Parents declining ELL services
  • I don’t think most parents decline ELL services.
  • They have this idea that ELL is teaching them phrases/English.
  • It hurts that administration/Board members/Committee members try to say that they know how we feel. You don’t until you are walking in our shoes, in our classrooms, making a difference in their lives. It’s sad, it’s sad you’re closing our school. You do not identify with how we feel. I understand, you have to make budget cuts. Until you walk in our shoes, please don’t try to identify with our feelings, because you don’t understand. We’re the ones working in the trenches. You don’t know the difference in these kids’ lives that we make. Come spend a day. Until you are in the classrooms, seeing the ah ha moments, it just kind of hurts that they try to identify with how we feel. I think the administrators were expected to do walk-through in the building. It was 9:30 in the morning. We had the paint out. And he said, “Oh we are doing art in the morning?” He judged me on what I was doing and I was doing the curriculum. Usually when they see special education, they run. Going back to this P-8 model, I have eight children, five of them are going into regular education and aren’t potty trained. I worry about those children being in a classroom of 1:22. Here, it’s, “I think you stink, please have Mrs. C change you.” In a regular classroom, 22 kids, that teacher will have to be incredibly patient to call and say this child needs [toileting assistance]. We want to make sure these children are not overlooked. I think it will be fine if it is implemented like at Avondale East. It’s implemented well and we have one student (fourth grade) who needs changing and he is accepted.
  • I want to thank you guys for all that you have done. Everybody wants to complain but who has come up with a better plan? I think Dr. Singer has done a wonderful job. He didn’t have to have all the community meetings, parent nights. Everyone wants to rag on 501 and for once we need to say thank you for trying to make this an easy transition for us. Kids are resilient. If they see us trying to make this a good transition, the kids will be fine. I think Dr. Gordon will be just fine. She is a wonderful principal and leader. I appreciate all the comments; they are taken into consideration. You all definitely think of things we haven’t. We see ourselves as support staff. Our job is to make sure you have the resources necessary to do your job. I would like to leave you with the assurance that when it comes time to make a decision, we will review all the information we have. We will give it our most earnest effort to make the best decision we can. Children will be first, not adults. Working with what we’ve got, how can we make this better? What opportunities can we make?


School: Linn Elementary
Date: April 27, 2011
Recorder: Nicole Jahnke
Topic Notes

  • I am concerned about so many children walking to school.
  • Who is paying for all the busing?
  • The school bus goes right by my house. Why have these big buses when there are two children on it?
  • This school was built in 1964, it is still a viable building. And there is a fall-out shelter. Not very many schools have them now.
  • We are very concerned about vandalism.
  • How long will it take to get another agency into this school?
  • What about the old East Topeka School? It is still vacant.
  • I think the building should become a recreation center.
  • NIA promised us a library on this side of town too.
  • NIA promised this area a “Y” too.
  • What really gets me is they want to balance the budget on the backs of the poor people. You have to adjust your lifestyle because of this.
  • We should be growing – we are the Capital City.
  • Would like to see more formal mentoring in the schools.
  • The school district is desperate for it and the students could really benefit as they are face such stress moving from one school to another. Corporate sponsors could help with the expense.


Lundgren Meeting Notes



School: Lundgren Elementary
Date: April 20, 2011
Recorder: Tina Thompson
Topic Notes

  • If they do decide to go with the campus layout, how are teachers and kids going to deal with the stress during the building phase? (We are not going to get rid of teachers. We need to get leadership assigned to State Street and Chase. If we can get teachers and kids assigned before May 26, we can possibly get them acquainted with their new school.)
  • If Chase and State Street are to have a drama theme, would they lose strings and voice? (No, they should not lose anything.)
  • I have a real concern about 4th graders who are going to be 5th graders next year. We have a leadership group—they will miss out on so much. We have lots of clubs available to 5th graders—they will not have those experiences in middle school.
  • I understand what she is saying. I was in the first 9th grade class at Topeka High and we lost out on a lot of things.
  • I have concerns with 5th graders being separated from older kids. Will they ride on the bus with older kids?
  • What is the construction schedule? (We don’t know exactly, but hopefully next year.)
  • It is not fair to consider Room 110 as a complete or full-size room.
  • I hear concerns about two PE classes in one gym.
  • How many kids are going to be in each classroom? (Class sizes will remain aligned with current averages.)
  • Will the building contractors include a building operator, like Jane, who has been here over 30 years?
  • When other sub-groups meet, staff would find it helpful and reassuring to read notes of those meetings, just to stay informed—to not feel abandoned and anxious. This will help people feel supported.
  • Are they talking about using local contractors, with the economy the way it is? (Bidding will occur at some point in the future.)
  • I am just concerned about the 5th graders hearing more “grown-up” stuff when they go to middle school. What kind of education will kids be getting? Will the teachers feel comfortable doing their jobs?
  • If this gets passed by the Board, what will happen next? (If the board votes to close schools, then Demographics will have letters prepared to send to parents.)
  • I’m concerned that we have the cart before the horse. For a year, we get a little band-aid fix until the “real gym” is built. Why can’t we have the addition built before we move?
  • We are concerned about the teachers as well as the kids. Will teachers get their choice of schools to transfer to?
  • How will moves affect SLP’s, OT’s and PT’s?
  • It would be a shame to separate special ed paras from kids they have worked with one-on-one for years.


School: Lundgren Elementary
Date: April 20, 2011
Recorder: Cindy Kelly
Topic Notes

  • We’re here to listen to your concerns and hopefully to address them.
  • Presentation: One patron appreciated the second translator who covered more of the details.
  • A parent/teacher understands that cuts need to be made. She believes that the combination of Lundgren and State Street will be good.
  • Her daughter who is a fourth grader at State Street loses 5th grade graduation, loves music and theatre opportunities. Moving an unprepared fourth grader is not right. Sending young kids into middle school is not right. This student will not get the preparation that all fifth graders get before moving to middle school.
  • Will they have all new teachers? Probably pretty much will be the same teacher unless there are changes in numbers of students. We’ll get fifth and sixth grade teachers together to determine a good program for transition. Parent replied, “On May 6 she will find out she’s going to middle school . . . there is no time for transition.” It is a concern for parents. You don’t put your trust in a room, but in the teacher who will be there with the students.
  • No one has talked about eliminating fifth grade graduation—if it is something that is very important, let’s figure out how to make it happen.
  • Why are they just hearing about these budget problems? It has been discussed in the buildings and publications for several years. The closing of elementary schools was recommended by the Budget Stakeholders Committee three years ago and by the Facilities Committee as well.
  • How much will the fifth graders who will be sixth graders at Chase next year be affected by this? P-8 model is actually easier for these transitions in many cases. Fifth and sixth graders will, to an extent, be shielded from older students.
  • Why always the low income side of town, not the other side of town as well? One of the positives is you start to get away from some of the inequities. Smaller programs at each of these buildings may result in a less robust program. This is an effort to alleviate some of these problems and inequities. This is where the small schools are located.
  • Why do you take kids out of Chase and take them to French? It may be related to AYP and
    schools placed on improvement—we are required to offer them choice. It could also be to access ELL services.
  • Fifth graders at State Street are given more responsibilities. Parents are worried that their kids will not get to be the “big dogs.” Can those privileges be preserved? We want to address these issues to ensure that all students have the best opportunities available to them.
  • There are concerns that the fifth grade teachers from State Street will refuse to move to Chase.
  • A former student wonders what kind of an emotional toll it will take on the fourth graders who are moved.
  • If fifth graders were kept for one more year, they (the schools) could do the things that need to be done for the transition. We appreciate concerns about the timing.
  • Children in the Lundgren attendance area will have to cross Sardou to get there—how will that be addressed? Middle school children have been hit by cars. Outside of one mile, transportation will be provided. We will have to look at the issue otherwise.
  • Concerns with dual principals. What would it take for additional time?
  • Will there be meetings like this to help determine future uses for the buildings? We do not want to close the buildings and abandon the community. We need you to help us with these decisions.
  • What happens with school improvement process when schools are combined?
  • State Street’s biggest concern is the transition of fourth graders to fifth graders at Chase next year without the preparation for the transition.
  • Will more schools be closing in the future?
  • On patron likes the K-8 model, but what about music, theatre and some of the other programs. We believe there will be additional, more robust opportunities in these areas.
  • The maps are not set in stone in terms of where classrooms at each level may be located.
  • It’s a horrible situation to reassign people and classrooms after the beginning of school. Will this be avoided this year? To the extent possible, we will try to have the numbers and staffing as good as possible. Because we are Title schools, we have comparability numbers we have to meet. Letters will go out on May 6 and there will be a two week window for applying for transfers.
  • Where will we end up if we keep cutting education? Unfortunately, we have several members of the state legislature who have very limited vision. HB2400 would take further money away from our district by removing additional aid for high poverty students. Most of our Shawnee County legislators believe in education, but many from other parts of the state do not.
  • A teacher expressed concern about the loss of the gymnasium and putting the cart before the horse—no gym, need for portables, etc.
  • The board has zero good choices at this point, but they are trying to make the best of the situation and improve the overall educational situation.
  • A music teacher wondered will there be a need for two music and two PE teachers? Will there be space for all of these programs?
  • Time differences when children get out of school—will fifth graders get out at 2:45 as well? There are things like this that need to get worked out.
  • Lundgren’s biggest concern is what will happen to them (teachers)—how many staff will move with the students? What happens with them is up in the air. They all have great uncertainty about the future. The opportunity to make choices is not a big comfort. Teachers are the most important factor in the equation.
  • ELL program will not be added to Scott. There will be an ELL program at State Street.
  • Long range plans look good. Kickstarter is a public program that might be able to provide help with some of the transitions.
  • Map does not have rooms allotted for ELL and several SPED services. There is not enough time in the day for all of the students to have music and PE.



School: Lundgren Elementary
Date: April 20, 2011
Recorder:
Topic Notes

  • Will ELL transfer students receive same services at receiving school?
  • Where will my ELL student be transferred?
  • Will my student have the same teacher? A special program?
  • Will IEP be followed at new site?
  • A new gym is needed at State Street now.
  • Is there enough room for all the transfer students at State Street?
  • 5th graders at State Street should remain in elementary school.

School: Lundgren Elementary
Date: April 20, 2011
Recorder: Dr. Stephen Burkholder
Topic Notes

  • Do we have the cart before the horse (doing this a year early)? Are we moving too fast?
  • Concerned with the size of P.E. classes with only one gym (gym also used as cafeteria)
  • Will School boundaries change?
  • How will ELL students be reassigned?
  • Will State Street have full special education services?
  • What will happen to class sizes?
  • Which school will provide P.E., Music, etc. for 5th grade students at Chase?
  • What will be the name of the new co campus? (need a name change)

School: Lundgren Elementary
Date: April 20, 2011
Recorder: Nicole Jahnke
Topic Notes

  • Are we going to change the name of the new complex?
  • Are Lundgren teachers moving to State Street?
  • Is this plan exactly what was presented to the Board for their approval?
  • What class will be in the modular building?
  • Will there be restroom facilities and running water in the modular buildings?
  • How will repurposing the building save the district money?
  • Will the fifth grade students follow a block schedule?
  • What school will the ELL children be transferred to?
  • When will the search for a new principal begin? Parents do not want dual principalship.
  • Is this plan the last resort? Were there other buildings considered?
  • Will more schools close in the near future?
  • Will K-8 students ride the bus together?
  • Will the Special Education students get the assistance they need? Will they have the same opportunities at their new school? Will the class size change for these students? Parents are worried their children will fall through the cracks.
  • The ELL children feel scared about going to middle school.
  • There is a concern about students crossing Sardou.
  • Parents do not want the building left empty.
  • Education is the priority, but the parents want assurance the children have a sense of security in the new school.
  • There are only 2 sets of restrooms at Chase.
  • Some classified staff members are upset because no one from Administration has visited with them about their transition.
  • The State Street gym is not adequate. It is too small - there is not enough square footage per child. We are “putting the cart before the horse.” There is already a PE teacher at State Street. The new gym may be ready by (sy) 2012, but what are the plans until then? Is there enough time for getting the kids to classes like PE?
  • There are many transitional issues with moving the 5th grade students to Chase. These students will miss all the very special things they look forward to at State Street. Some of these are 5th Grade Leadership Group, Theater Group, Singing Club, Chess Club, Sports Program, and 3 big field trips.

School: Lundgren Elementary
Date: April 20, 2011
Recorder: Linda Aldridge
Topic Notes
Presentation
  • The presentation answered every question I had and I’m sold on it.
  • A lot of my questions were answered.
Fifth Grade
  • Are they going to keep fifth grade away from the older students? That’s my main concern. This is my child’s first year here; I’ve been really happy with [this change] and are trying to decide if we should send her back [to a private setting].
  • Will fifth graders change classes? No, it will be a self-contained room. They will go out for (Ex: music). The bulk of the day is self-contained.
  • Will they have a chance to see their new school? Yes, as soon as the decision is made, there will be activities to ease the transition.
  • They are not mature enough to go to Chase. They say we are going to keep them apart. This I’ve got to see to believe. OK, take that thought and what would the alternative be? Have modulars for fifth grade to keep them separate from the older kids. When you build, build rooms for fifth grade.
Timetable When will the decision be made? The final decision will be made May 5.
Transfer Students If there is a transfer already placed, does that include ELL students? ELL students – they will look at putting ELL students closest to their residence. Non-ELL transfers will need to make application or they will return to their residential school.
Quality of Proposal/Timeframe I do think it is a good idea but it makes me sad. Two things – this has been the proposal for a while and I’ve heard about it, but it was never set in stone. And now, here it is, just a few weeks, and I think that is really crappy. Why can’t we give more time to prepare? If we had not gotten hit with this additional fund reduction, we could possibly have put it off another year.
Combination Rooms I really don’t like the combination rooms [necessary with the current configuration].
Dual Principalship I really don’t like [the shared principalship.] Things change.
ELL
  • My friend [sixth grader next year] might have to go to Landon when she passed ELL.
  • I heard all of the ELL students are bused in. Is that right? Possibly, it’s space. You heard…many students transfer to Lundgren.
PE Program
  • I understand the budget cuts and have no problem combining with other schools but I believe we are getting the cart before the horse. If I have to move, the gym is the size of a poster stamp. We might have to have two classes at once. If that is the case, I don’t want to be the teacher. So, yes I know the proposal says they are supposed to build a new gymnasium, but not next year. They are not ready for us. Hypothetically, let’s say next year we do some bussing for that transitional year. It costs money to save money and when you cut through all of it, it’s about education and kids. You might want to ask, would [transporting to Lundgren] be possible. I want to be accommodated. I want the kids to be able to have what is needed. The ideal would have been to complete the additions, have the buildings ready. When the first proposal came out, we were in phase two. And then, March 17 it just got thrown at us. I did not see that one coming and the timeframe is so detrimental. If we had known what was coming at us when we made the addition up there, we talked about it, looked at a new gym. They gave us estimates. We thought it would be years [until we had to change].
  • Mr. Duffy has the same concern. He says, “What are we going to do?” We eat lunches in that gym. The uncertainty, the speculation is so great. Portable units, do you think if we made three classrooms, would that help? Could we do some health and physical education in a modular? I’m trying to think of things. We’ve got to use this as a chance to come up with some alternatives because I really don’t think there is any chance [Lundgren] is going to stay open. Maybe this is where Holland Center ought to be until we can open up a gym.
P-8 I am not opposed but at this point, fifth grade needs to be under elementary. They are not ready.
Lunches How are we going to serve these students? The maturity of this year’s fourth graders – they are not ready for Chase. Other elementary schools have small gyms, so if we build one here, we’ve got to do it other places?
Change It’s got to happen. If you don’t have the money, something has to be done. Had we not saved up some money, we would be in real trouble.
Rumor The only reason this school came up to be closed is because someone made an offer to buy Lundgren. There has never been an offer, never any communications. We don’t have an offer from anybody. This town is full of empty buildings and we don’t want another Sumner.
Brown v. BOE I went to Lincoln. At one time my brother was at Branner Annex. I went to Curtis Jr. High. I did not know we had a segregation problem. It was just all mixed classes.
Teacher Assignments Are they all going to come to Chase? This will be based upon district-wide needs. As much as possible, teaching staff will follow the students.
Cost How is it cost effective to move us? We will still maintain Lundgren. Is it really that much of a difference? We think somewhere around a half million dollars. The real value is that the kids are getting a better education, fewer combo classrooms – get a full-time principal. We just can’t run a school with 90 or 100 kids. When you get one teacher/grade, and there is a conflict, you can’t move across the hall. It’s not all about money. We’ve closed maybe 25 or 30 schools since I’ve been in Topeka and it does save money.
Gym The gyms get sort of…I’ve been able to witness how much PE is a classroom. Lunch? It’s going to take two hours to run kids through there.



Quinton Heights Meeting Notes


School: Quinton Heights Elementary
Date: April 14, 2011
Recorder:
Topic Notes
Brown v. BOE Will this case have an effect on decisions? Yes, it was a consideration. We will be able to get closer to district averages with these changes. The Brown decision was one of the many things administration looked at. I’m not so convinced that Brown v. BOE helped to resolve the issue.
Cost There will be “Operational costs – there will be savings. Roughly $500,000/building. We may have to spend some on transportation bricks & mortar” cost from combining Ross and Eisenhower; that comes out of capital outlay.
Teachers Will there be an increase or decrease in teachers as this transition occurs? We have a normal attrition rate. Teachers in this building will still be able to teach.
Class size This can be an issue. It is hard to teach once you get above a certain level. Hopefully, we can better meet our goals regarding class size. We have paras, things like that. Class size always is a consideration.
Paras Will paras increase or decrease? Hopefully we will be able to absorb them.
Federal Funding We get Federal dollars through special education and Title I. The Board goal has been not to do layoffs.
Transportation Concerns regarding bussing of kids. If we bus them further away, what’s going to happen if they can’t get on the bus. I’m not so convinced that closing all these schools is going to solve the issue. As we close schools, we will rely more upon transportation. I’m not convinced that schools that have not reached their peak should be closed down.
Safety If there is a busy street…safety is a priority.
Potential uses of closed schools We don’t want to just walk off and let buildings get vandalized.
Schools ran like a business I don’t see efforts to create revenue. We need to utilize buildings to make money. There are community things that can be done in some of these schools – community based and also make money for the schools. Rent out schools for events that could benefit the community. Ex: hotdog feed, games and activities – then the community is supporting its own school.
Purpose of Schools If we don’t educate them now, we see them in jails later. If we run schools like a business, we need to find ways to make money. People are willing to support schools, even poor people. I realize some of the buildings are going to have to be leased out but don’t lease everything. Around here, kids don’t have much to do. Have activities going on throughout the summer. Create continuity. The more we give them to do and occupy their time, the more they will be attentive.

School: Quinton Heights Elementary
Date: April 14, 2011
Recorder: Dr. Stephen Burkholder
Topic Notes

  • Why not more emphasis on science and math signature schools?
  • Is making AYP a factor in closing Quinton Heights?
  • Concerns of students having to make additional transitions initially
  • Concern with being bused
  • Likes the family atmosphere
  • Concern with potential class size
  • Will Quinton Heights residents have an assigned school?
  • What’s the longer range plan?
  • What if the P-8 concept fails?
  • Will buildings be left empty?

School: Quinton Heights Elementary
Date: April 14, 2011
Recorder: Tammy Austin (aka, Dr. T.)
Topic Notes

  • How will the children be split?
  • We could not find student achievement data on Meadows website.
  • Will special needs students get to stay with their special education teacher? (Specifically about a child at Linn in a self-contained classroom.)
  • Where will my granddaughter be going to school?
  • Is Meadows a magnet school? Is there a plan to make it a magnet?
  • What’s the difference between a regular school and a magnet school?
  • How many students attend Meadows now? (530)How many will attend in the fall? (558)
  • Will class sizes be bigger? (Staffed the same.)
  • How will teachers be reassigned? (A committee is working on this issue.)
  • What is the transition plan for students? (A group at the district office is developing a plan.)
  • The sooner we give children answers, the better off they will be.
  • How many ELL students currently attend Quinton Heights?
  • Reiterate the process for how ELL students at QH will be sent to other schools.
  • Will transportation policy for ELL remain the same? (Yes.)
  • Will children be enrolled at their new school by the end of this school year? (Students will be listed on their new school roster, but parents will still need to officially enroll their children.)
  • Do schools where children are transferring have before and after-school programs? (Some do, some don’t.)
  • Please provide information to parents about before and after-school programs so they know their options.
  • Will the special education delivery model change? (In some cases, yes, and in some, no.)
  • My daughter is going into fifth grade. Where will she go to school next year? (She will go to the ELL school closest to where you live.)
  • There are two ELL schools that are ELL? (Yes, French and Landon.)
  • If we move the SPED classroom from Linn to Avondale East, isn’t that too many transitions for a special needs child for two consecutive years? (Dr. Aldridge indicated “we have no plans to move children twice.)
  • Is there a fee to attend a magnet?
  • What if grades start going down in a bigger school?
  • Will teachers from QH move with students so students see familiar faces at their new school?
  • Will be as good of teachers as there are at QH?
  • Transition plan is critical for students and parents.
  • Kids and teachers need answers. Fear of unknown with kids has led to discipline problems at QH.
  • When will we know where ELL sites will be?
  • How will we apply for a transfer?

School: Quinton Heights Elementary
Date: April 14, 2011
Recorder: Cindy Kelly
Topic Notes

  • Teacher at Stout—no one has talked with them about the use of space at Stout; told to expect up to 100 students—will mobile units be added? Where will they find the space within the building? Capacity has been studied. We will not add more students than buildings can handle.
  • Losing principal—is there a plan for that?
  • Taught in two other schools in the district; different feel for a smaller school—work well together; have been successful in making AYP
  • Question about special education low incidence rooms—will they be eliminated? Needs will continue to be evaluated.
  • Need quite spaces for many schools to do testing—lots of spaces in the school are consumed by testing
  • Will the staff be kept in place? Ideally teachers will move with the kids or have some choice, but until we have the numbers, it will be difficult to predict.

School: Quinton Heights Elementary
Date: April 14, 2011
Recorder: Nicole Jahnke
Topic Notes

  • Parent #1 likes the QH’s classroom sizes of 20-25. Dr. McCarthy explained our goal is to have classroom sizes of approximately 22.
  • Parent #1 feels like the small classroom size leads to better communication with teachers.
  • Teachers know the students better in a small school.
  • Students know other students in a small school.
  • Parent #1 complained the East side schools which are low income are the only schools experiencing closure. Dr. McCarthy stated the signature programs may pull student back into affected areas.
  • Parent #1 need to have information about signature program quickly to help make a decision about where to enroll his child.
  • Wants to know where the lottery money went.
  • Parent #2 wants to make sure there will be enough teachers in the larger schools. Dr. McCarthy explained there would be enough teacher and furthermore students would receive full time support staff, such as nurse, comp tech, librarians, etc. that are unaffordable in small schools.
  • Parent #1 and Parent #2 do not care for combination rooms.
  • Parent #2 feels like some children who are in ELL should not be. Different levels of achievement may be a better system. (Her child is still in ELL, but is fluent in English.)
  • Parent #2 says we should think about using block classes for the 5 grade to prepare the children for middle school.
  • Parent #2 feels ‘looping’ (or spiral?) is good for the children. (I do not know what this is.)
  • Parent #1 wants to know how much the district really saves if the Holland staff moves into the building – utilities, phone service, custodian, bathroom stuff.
  • How much money will be saved with all extra bussing.