At last night’s Kodiak Island Borough School Board meeting several parents of North Star Elementary students spoke out about potential changes in teacher assignments at the school. All were concerned the changes were not being adequately shared with them and they worried about the effects they would have on the school’s stellar education reputation.
“My name is John Arndt and I am a parent of a student at North Star Elementary. Tonight, my concern is North Star’s plan to make a mostly school-wide teacher grade level change and the negative effect I believe this will have on the children. I found out about this and I sat down with the principal and she told me this change was to meet social, emotional learning,” said Arndt.
“Hi, my name’s Louie Rachlow. I’ve had four kids go through North Star Elementary, and two of them are still currently attending there. They have all had great experiences and excellent teachers. However I have been informed there will be some drastic modifications to the teaching staff next year, resulting in many assignments that differ greatly from their recent positions,” he said.
“My name is Laura Walters. I’m a physician here in the community and have a fourth grader at North Star. I’m reiterating actually things you’ve already heard, so I won’t take much of your time. I too heard about this just through the grapevine of parents and not through any administration. Again, I was shocked. North Star gets great rankings throughout the state. I was dismayed to hear that my child’s teacher could be moved, when he would be looping up with the same teacher again who he has done very well with. I think that’s why a lot of us like North Star. I can’t see any reason why this would benefit the children of North Star and I would love for someone to enlighten me on how it will,” Walters said.
Later in the meeting, North Star Principal Patricia Wilson attempted just that.
“First of all I want to let you know that I hear the parents and what the parents are saying. I think that I’d like to state what I’m hearing,” Wilson said. “One, that they’re afraid for their children next year; two, that they’re concerned that they don’t have a voice in the process; and third, some are concerned that teachers have spent a lot of money at their current grade level. And I definitely hear that because I was a teacher and some years I would spend thousands. So I have heard those three things that are coming from parents.”
Wilson also announced that there will be a meeting for parents about the changes coming up next week on March 26th, in the school, at 5 p.m.
Wilson said she has spent a lot of time in her school’s classrooms observing teachers and said she had an obligation to look forward.
“What will our students need to be successful academically, socially and emotionally in the coming years. In 2009 we were a blue ribbon school. We’re currently, last year, a five-star school. That’s a frozen thing, so this year we’ll again be a five-star school,” Wilson said. “But we have brand new, really hard standards, and if you ask any teacher they feel that it’s one or two years pushed down, that these are rigorous standards and the exams are going to reflect that. So if we stay doing only what we have always been doing it isn’t enough. We have to change with the times as well.”
Wilson also reassured the school board that the changes she’s making are not being made because she believes any teachers are deficient in their current assignment – she said she would be addressing that already.