Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 29, 2007

Chariho admin makes the case for K-6 – so why don’t we do it?

Filed under: Chariho,Elementary Schools,grade spans,Middle & High School — Editor @ 8:01 pm

In the previous school board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Thornton presented some information regarding the benefits of a K-6 or K-8 education models. I have received a lot of email and phone calls because I did not properly identify what his reports showed.  I made the comment that they “supported my findings” but neglected to highlight them.  Most of the people who contacted me said the school’s presentation put more emphasis on a “lack of research” but as I have posted before, there are literally hundreds of studies on the subject.   

Below are the reports the administration presented and some key quotes. 

Accountability Works: Analysis of Performance by Grade Span of School.“… in all subject areas the performance of sixth-grade students at the (K-6) schools was better than the performance of sixth-grade students from (K-5) schools.”

 One of the interesting points made in this report is that the lack of teacher “incentives” could be blamed for the poor performance because teachers were not responsible for the students.  It is interesting that “incentives” would be used as an excuse for poor performance but merit pay is taboo. 

The Elemiddle School: A Model for Middle Grades Reform.“…schools containing both elementary and middle-school grades may be most appropriate for meeting the educational and social needs of young adolescents.” 

Grade Span and Eight-Grade Academic Achievement: Evidence from a Predominantly Rural State. (pdf download)“..the researchers concluded that eighth-graders learning in elementary settings (K-8, K-9, and 3-8) outperform eighth-graders in schools with other grade configurations.”   “Eighth-graders attending school in junior/senior school environments (grades 6-12, 7-12, and 8-12) perform less well than eighth-graders in other grade configurations.”

 There were a few other reports supporting the common sense knowledge that frequent transitions are bad for student performance but overall, the information presented supports the information posted previously.   

This begs the question – if previous surveys show that the vast majority of parents want their 5th and 6th graders back in the elementary level, and the research suggests that they are better served in that environment, then why are we not doing something about it?  

December 8, 2006

Building committee given go-ahead for $30,000,000

Filed under: Middle & High School — Editor @ 3:47 pm

Last Thursday approval was given for the formation of a building committee to spend up to $30M on the main campus.  For those who missed it, here is my letter explaining my vote.  Your comments are welcome.

 

“Vote to form a new Chariho School building committee is premature given lingering questions” 12/06/06

  On Thursday, Nov. 30, a vote was taken at the Chariho Middle School to form a building commit­tee addressing construction at the middle and high school cam­pus – I voted against it. 

A shortage of space at the main campus, most notably with the RYSE program is the impetus for action. I’m not convinced that $ 30 million allocated only for the main campus is the only solution. My concerns are twofold:  

• My first question addressing the space issue is if the main campus is appropriate for 5th­and/ or 6th- graders? They cer­tainly have more resources, but at age 10- 12, are they better off in a more familiar location closer to home? Most importantly, do they achieve better academic per­formance on the larger campus  

• The second question is regarding the RYSE program. Special needs and alternative learning services were previously provided off campus, often with expensive tuition and transporta­tion costs. Locating these stu­dents on the main campus cre­ates tremendous savings, but will it still be a savings when bond and corollary expenses are accu­mulated. 

And, obviously, we need to be sure we are providing a better service for the students. Intuition tells me yes, at least for some, but I think it’s too soon to tell.  There are other schools in the state that have pulled students from tuitioned placements and ended up sending them back because they couldn’t meet the students’ needs. RYSE provides a variety of services, and I would want to know we had all our bases covered before locking it in with new construction. 

Hopkinton Town Councilor Sylvia Thompson’s proposed amendment could have addressed these issues. She pro­posed to include the elementary schools in the building commit­tee’s construction options. Construction or repair at the ele­mentary level could have result­ed in fewer students at the main campus, thus creating more space for RYSE. This would also provide us time to thoroughly analyze the program’s viability and potential needs, before investing. But it was defeated. 

I honestly have not made up my mind. But voting for the building committee, to me, would have said I had. A vote of that magnitude, with an impending fire safety bond, seemed prema­ture at best. And after $ 30M on the main campus and unknown millions for fire suppression, will we be able to afford the elemen­tary school needs? We need to evaluate our priorities. 

Clearly, the building committee is not the end of the road. It will forward a recommendation to the school committee. If and when it is approved, the voters will have the final say. I am sure there will be a lot of discussion in that time.

On a related note, one of my campaign platforms was to open a communication link so that I and other committee members could listen to more voters about these and other issues.  Please visit http://cspf.award­space.com ( no “ www”) and share your thoughts.

 Bill Felkner Ashaway member, Chariho Regional School Committee

December 3, 2006

Middle & High School Campus

Filed under: Middle & High School — Editor @ 5:15 am

Discuss issues related to the main campus.  The new building committee.  The RYSE program.  Transporation issues.