The committee that was tasked with researching and considering options for the possible reconfiguration of local elementary schools has decided against changing local schools.
As KMXT’s Maggie Wall reports School Superintendent Larry LeDoux shared the decision with the school board, and the public, at last night’s regular Board of Education meeting.
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If it had been approved, local grade schools would have shifted from the current status of each school having each grade, to a reconfigured system with all the students of one grade being housed and taught in one building, so that each school would host only one grade, or group of grades, each.
LeDoux said, that while he favored reconfiguration, after much input from parents and teachers, the committee on reconstruction has opted not to go forward.
“I’m not recommending to the board for those decisions. I’m not sorry for the effort we put into it. I believe that we had a process. We flowed through it. I personally wish it would happen, but I don’t believe it’s the right thing to do at this time.”
The reasons to support reconfiguration are many including cost savings, changing enrollment, better use of teacher time, and more attention to individual children—especially those with special needs.
But public testimony was overwhelmingly against the move. LeDoux said the reaction among teachers was mixed, even though principals said they were willing to work through the summer to make the transition happen.
“I don’t want him to work the summer they’re working really hard right now.”
Time and people power was a big part of the decision said LeDoux. He said the schools are currently in the midst of several major changes, including one to improve math skills, the introduction of a new English Language Arts program, as well as a K-12 framework for social and emotional development to deal with adverse childhood experiences.
“So, I believe that we reached a decision not to do it. Not because we think it’s a bad idea. We really believe that if our community and we embraced it, that it would help us achieve the goals that we have.
“But if we move faster than our community, if we move faster than our resources, I cannot let the ELA, social emotional, or the math initiatives fail. Because if we moved in that direction, we would essentially have to drop everything and do nothing but logistics.”
LeDoux explained that letting parents know that the school district was listening to them was also a big factor in the decision to not go forward with reconfiguration.
“And there was enough indication that while we might have had the statutory power to make it happen, it didn’t feel right after a while.
“That doesn’t mean that everything we do it’s a vote of the public. But there’s a point when you’re making a change this foundational in our district, and it was big, that you have to be listened closely to your community.
“And what happens when districts don’t pay attention to that. They can make it happen, but it will last only until one or two board elections, and then it will change. And then we’re worse off than we were before.”
LeDoux added that many of the things that reconfiguration was designed to fix have been fixed through this process of looking at options.