Wednesday, May 19, 2010

School District Politics

When did we decide to treat our children like cattle? At what point did the numbers become the most important factor in decisions? I need to rant to someone, and you, my few blog readers, will now fill this personal need of mine.

The boundary for Spanish Fork junior high is the street 1400 East in Spanish Fork. The boundary for Spanish Fork high is 1700 East. Canyon Elementary is directly to the north, East Meadows is just to the east. My address happens to be at 1662 East.

Check this out. My children go to Canyon Elementary. 99 percent of their peers go to SFJHS. But guess what? Due to the infinite "wisdom" of the school district, my kids go to Diamond Fork. That puts them in with a whole new set of friends. Then guess what? When they transition to high school, they get sent back to SFHS! Basically, they lose the majority of their friends from elementary, make new friends for 3 years which they turn around and lose, only to be thrust back to the original friends, who have changed a lot in 3 years.

I've been waging an email battle to at least bring this issue to light. One district official replied that "hopefully most kids have found friends in elementary that follow them to jr. high and then jr. high friends that accompany them to high school". Oh, ok. Well, I'll just tell my friends to only associate with students living south of Canyon road and between 1400 E and 1700 E. My goal of not using profanity is ruined, yet again!

Of course, this is only an issue because SFJHS is at capacity. Of course, the district office posts the enrollment numbers on their web site, and it turns out DFJHS is at capacity as well. So what's the difference? And the district is having issues with keeping enrollment up at SFHS, since they completely blew it with the new boundaries for the openings of Salem Hills and Maple Mountain, which are bursting at the seems since all the growth is within their perimeter, while SFHS was pretty much land locked. And all I get is discouragement and roadblocks. If I want to provide consistency for my children, I need to look outside the district to private schooling or charter schools. Real nice Nebo. All you'd have to do is allow for a choice for those of us living in the DMZ, and you'd have a problem solved. You'd have most Canyon students wanting to follow their peers to SFJHS, then onto SFHS, thus helping bolster enrollment. But instead you come up with the best freaking idea ever, to heard around a handful of students like a bunch of sheep!

I'd run for the school board, but I'm afraid it'd be detrimental to the other board members. If this decision is a sampling of their decision making and planning capacities, we wouldn't last long together.

Thanks reader. I feel a bit better now.


Debbie said...

So sorry you are unhappy with Nebo District. Since I've been involved with all of the redistricting (which happened 4 years ago) I know the complications that arise when trying to feed 6 Jr. High's into 5 high schools. We took EXTENSIVE public input from ALL neighborhoods, held public meetings and public hearings (which almost NO ONE attended) and made the BEST decision possible knowing that not everyone would be happy. It's impossible to make the parents of 28,000 students happy all of the time. I am your school board representative and have never heard from you about this issue.

Nebo school district tries very hard to do what's best for students. We know that decisions made often have unintended consequences. You are probably not alone with this situation. We are beginning a new boundaries re-alignment process this fall for Jr. High schools because of the new Salem Jr. High that is going to be built. I suggest you contact the district and offer your services.

Mike Elquist said...

I would love to be of service! My wife and I both signed a petition that went around the neighborhood, and felt we were represented by that group. That particular effort seemed to have a lot of support, but from what I heard it was denied.

The fact that you've isolated a handful of children living between 1400 E and 1700 E, then taken away the open enrollment abilities, seems a bit obvious to me. Just making that area an area of choice would help a lot.

I'm not sure how the redistricting was communicated, or how public input was requested, but we were pretty much in the dark regarding this.

I have contacted the district repeatedly, and outside of a few personal friends who wish to remain anonymous, I have been ignored. This comment from you is the first I've heard back from anyone at the district and/or school board.

All I ask is that someone see this through my 6th graders eyes, as she bids farewell to pretty much every friend she made at Canyon, then will get to relive that experience as all her new friends from DFJHS go away in 3 years. That's just not right.

Debbie said...

I know that is hard for students. For some students it will make them stronger but that depends on how they handle it. I would be happy to look more at this problem. I will also recommend you as part of the committee. One thing I have learned is that often what appears to be random and unfair actually turns out to be the best solution overall-- but not always ideal for some. We do want to do what we can for students and perhaps we can find a solution to this.

Eric Layton said...

This happened in my schools growing up. I was one of the kids who got to stay with the majority, but some elementary school friends of mine attended a different Jr. High school than everyone else, then joined back with everybody in high school. I was never able to re-make friendships with any of them to the level they were before.

This split was also very detrimental to at least one of the people shunted off to the other Jr. High -- she blames many of her difficulties in Jr. High (not that Jr. High isn't difficult enough already) and later high school to this action. If you like I can put you in contact with her if you'd like to hear her first-hand experience of the damage this can cause.

Mike Elquist said...

Thanks for the feedback Eric. This is my fear as well. My oldest son was able to use concurrent enrollment to work around this, lucky for him. They've shut that off now. My middle son is lucky to have most of his friends live within about a block from us, so he hasn't minded being shuttled off. I must admit that, the friends he did have that went to the other junior high, we have not seen them in years. We do have our hands full with my youngest daughter. I'm not sure what to do to help her through this. I don't think she cares much that the district has 6 junior highs feeding 5 high schools. It seems to provide little comfort for her. She would simply say to either build another high school or close a junior high! That would make the numbers add up.

Dainon said...

I feel your pain. I'm also very disgusted with the apparent incompetencies within our school board. I live in the exact same address blocks on the north side of Canyon Road. This is the first year my Senior at Maple Mountain has attended the same school two years in a row since the 5th grade at the hands of this inept school board. To Debbie whom is obviously stroking the situation, I would challenge you to review the board meeting notes from March 10, 2010 and then make the statement "almost no one attended". Once again, our subdivision faces being moved back to SFJHS and then to SFHS. It will be the third time my kids have been moved in and out of SFJH. If the school board used any logic, the neighborhood east of you from 1700 to 2800 East would be moved back to SFJH and then on to SFHS. This would keep me and my neighbors from passing those folks on 1150 East each morning as we took our kids to the school furthest away and opposite each other. The hearing for this proposition is tomorrow night at 7:00 in the district office. It should bring the house down.

Mike Elquist said... - I will spread the word!