Dear Pro-BOLD supporters,
As a parent who isn’t directly impacted by the closing of these schools (as my son will be moving to the middle school before these closings take place) I’ve had many people ask me why I’m so passionate about opposing this proposal.
I encourage you to read further in hopes that some of these reasons may cause you to reflect on your position on BOLD and at a minimum agree to respectfully disagree. Of course my true desire is for you to feel compassion toward those students, teachers, parents and communities impacted by this proposal, but let’s just start with an open mind.
Here’s a few of the reasons why I don’t support BOLD:
1. As a tax payer I was marketed to and sold on statements that if I supported the bond and levy that it would result in no schools being closed. Now that the district has the money they are claiming no responsibility to uphold this promise. Not only do I feel betrayed but I worry very much that this sets the stage for the district and the board to not follow thru on any promises. For example, the district is promising that this plan will help bring equity to the district and increase programming. If they do not believe they had an obligation to not close schools because of their promises, what’s to say they would follow thru on the promise of equity and increased programming at the first sign of budget issues or a new want of the district?
2. They didn’t involve the entire community before making the proposal to truly understand what people wanted and continue to not engage the community now. They talk at us. We talk at them. We have yet to talk with each other. I have never witnessed good decision making without involving those that are impacted. Once again I worry about the precedence this sets for other tough choices we as a community will face.
3. Even though these closings don’t directly impact my son, future budget needs, which will undoubtedly require more money than the 1% savings we are talking here, will not pass because of BOLD and those may impact my son or daughter. The district will be in a place where it needs money and has no options.
4. It’s pretty clear to me that not all kids learn the same or will do equally well in all environments. If you listened to many, many parents that have spoken at the various meetings, you would have heard some real life stories of children moving from school to school in hopes of finding a good fit. Many of them have found the right fit in these schools and who am I to force them to start the search all over again? Many as a result of various circumstances will not be able to leave the district and their children will suffer as they’ve already tried these other schools and they haven’t worked. The thought of looking into the eyes of these poor children has brought me to tears many times.
5. I work as an analyst for my career and one thing I think I’m pretty good at after many years of doing this kind of work is identifying the root cause of problems. Even without full disclosure of the actual data it is very obvious to me that the district and board are not solving the root cause of our issues. A declining capture rate appears to be the most likely cause within our control that is causing these budgetary issues which have then led to decisions to cut programs and these inequities that keep getting mentioned. The issues certainly are not caused by these three schools being open and closing these schools will only make our capture problem worse. Anyone that tells you differently is not being honest in my opinion. In fact, I believe someone calculated the number (~150) of students that if they left the district would cause then entire proposed BOLD saving to vanish. This number seems highly probable considering the makeup and reasons why many families choose these three schools. As a result, the monies being promised to help out other schools still won’t be there and we’ve destroyed these communities and children’s futures for no reason.
6. I love all children and it doesn’t sit well with me that it’s ok to discriminate against some for the benefits of others. What I find amazing with the anti-bold folks is that they ALL realize there are some major issues at many of the other schools and want to rally with the families in these schools to figure out how to solve them. I don’t remember seeing anyone who would be ok with another school closing instead of theirs. There has certainly been questions as to why these three schools but no one wants to see any schools close. All I hear these directly impacted families asking for is for others in the district to support them as they would support you if your school was on the list. Seems like an honorable request to me and something I hope we can all agree on.
7. I love all of our communities in the district and want to see all of them flourish. If marine and withrow are closed these communities will be destroyed. I don’t think it will be something that they will just be able to get over and move on. I literally worry about a mass movement out of these communities and businesses closing. Not growing up in a small town I never really understood how tight these communities are until we went trick or treating in Marine. The whole town awakens to enrich the children’s lives, warm parents around campfires, watch after each other, and welcome everyone with hugs. That night made me finally understand just how magical it is and how the school is at the center of all that. I would highly recommend it as it is truly something special. I would hate to see that spirit erased by the closing of these schools.
8. The data presented by the district on many fronts just doesn’t seem to add up and justify the proposed actions. I’ve come to realize school budgets and funding and capacity studies are pretty complex but if you just use commonsense, something just doesn’t feel right. Another red flag for me is that if someone has to keep selling me the benefits of something over and over again and the benefits change with each conversation, something isn’t right. BOLD is this to me.
9. The impacts this proposal will have on the district, students, communities isn’t known. The district has said this themselves. They believe it’s okay to figure this all out later. Considering you don’t get a “re-do” on this I believe more work needs to be done on these impacts, both positive and negatives, and a more detailed plan of what this will look like needs to be done before moving forward. Just trusting it will all work out hasn’t worked well. For example, I was shocked to learn the district didn’t know the costs, impacts, education model of moving 6th graders to the middle school. How could they not have worked this out before asking for it. As a result, they seem to be short money already for the middle school even though millions were just approved.
10. There is little evidence that larger schools are more cost effective or provide a better learning environment. If the evidence doesn’t support it, why are we doing it? The district keeps stating there will be some realized efficiencies but in many, many other actual consolidations this just doesn’t happen in reality. Certainly sounds logical but just not true.
Anyway…I hope you’ll at least understand why I don’t support BOLD and are interested in doing more research on your own to formulate an informed and educated opinion on BOLD. I suspect if you take an honest unbiased look at it, you will come to realize it isn’t right to close these schools nor is there any confidence your children will reap any rewards from it.
Thanks for listening and may our district come together once again for all our children.