PLEASE TRY TO ATTEND THE SCHOOL BOARD MEETING TONIGHT. YOU CAN BRING YOUR KIDS. IT'S FUN! BRING SIGNS! WEAR MALCOLM X CLOTHING! BE VISIBLE! BE COUNTED!
(The School Board members have openly admitted that they respond to numbers, so we need to show up in force to get our message across.)
School Board meetings are held in the District building at 2020 Bonar Street. (Enter on the side off of Addison)
Please try to get there early, between 7:00 and 7:15, and sign up for Public Comment. Please mark "Yes" to the question about your comment relating to an agenda item ("Student Population") and submit your Public Comment card to the clerk. YOU DO NOT ACTUALLY HAVE TO MAKE A PUBLIC COMMENT, IF YOU ARE NOT A PUBLIC SPEAKER. You can give your time to somebody else. But it's important that we "stuff the ballot box" with requests for Public Comment. And if you do have a personal story to share about how "density" is impacting your family, all the better.
If you have any questions about attending, need a ride, or want to discuss this topic, please contact:
Joshua Room (firstname.lastname@example.org) Anna Brock (email@example.com) Michelle Oram (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We need to be present and heard at that meeting. In this author's opinion, there are at least three "talking points" that we should emphasize in public comments to the Board:
(1) We are grateful for the addition of an Assistant Principal, but we still need more staff, particularly in the vital categories mentioned above. We have the same number of literacy coaches and special education staff as schools with half our student populations (and presumably half our caseloads).
(2) The loss of our "flex spaces" (rooms not dedicated to classroom or other full-time use) isú having real consequences, including but not limited to the difficulty we are currently experiencing finding space to house our very popular and important Math Circles and Chess Tournament programs (run by Henri Ducharme, and funded by the PTA). similarly our PTA Afterschool classes were all over enrolled this past fall and limited space makes expanding the offerings to accommodate an increased student population difficult.
(3) At least some School Board members seem to be seriously considering increasing class sizes as a realistic response to the population increase. (This author's understanding is that under BSEP they could relatively immediately increase class size targets to an average of 26:1 across the district, with a State limit of 24:1 at K-2.) This may be in part a result of the reality that some of the options to accommodate increased population (new construction and even installation of new portables) have a time horizon that may make them infeasible as solutions for next year. So this may leave opening up the Adult School (or other site) or increasing class sizes as the only realistic options.
In addition to its potential impacts on individual classrooms, increasing class sizes might get us a flex space back (as it might reduce the total number of classrooms at Malcolm X), but it would not solve, and may very well increase, the "density" issues of our population (crowded auditorium, cafeteria, bathrooms, not enough space in Afterschool programs, etc.). (I also think it would possibly spell political suicide for the reauthorization of the BSEP measure, which is scheduled for the ballot in 2016.) So my view is that we need to help steer the School Board AWAY from increasing class sizes, and let them know that this is not (at least politically) an acceptable solution. The best way to do that might be to ask (in our public comments) that the School Board members commit to not increasing class sizes as a solution, even temporarily.
Thanks for listening. Together We Can!