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For clarification - the Candidate Forums will be called "Candidate Debates", per the request of an incumbent. The 9/25 (this coming Wednesday) date at the Steel Workers Union Hall will be rescheduled for a date in October. Since we are working very hard to get ALL of the Candidates to ALL of the debates, that date had to be changed due to calendars of candidates being full. Additionally, I am corrected that the hall will cost $35 per hour. Apparently someone else was willing to pay the fee to hold the meetings there, unbeknownst to me. So to be perfectly clear....it has not been donated by the union hall - a citizen is paying the fee out of their own pocket (not me, for the record).We will begin with paper fliers this next week - so watch for those at club meetings, community meetings. Additionally, if you would like to help get the word out for the Candidate Debates, just let Mindy Stewart know. You can go to the East Valley Citizens for Accountable Education on Facebook to reach me easily. I check that site on a regular basis.So far.....October 1st Candidate Debate - 6:30-8:30 at Starr Road Baptist Church. ALL are welcome to attend and ask questions if you want. If you just want to listen, that is alright too. Tell your neighbors, help drive your elderly voters who live in your neighborhood. If you still need to register to vote -- you can go to the DMV offices, you can register online, you can download the forms through the Secretary of State office. Just Google "voter registration in Washington" and you will get about a half dozen ways to go about it. But do it SOON if you want to vote in November! Your only option at this late date might be to go into a licensing office and register in person. Take your drivers license of State ID with you. I look forward to hearing about kids coming into our district at a rate of 3 in 1 out. I want to know how those kids are being counted? Online students? homelink students? full day kindergarten students (because up to offering free full day kindergarten, our school only had 2 part day sessions in one classroom - now we have 3 full time full classrooms) obviously kindergarten parents are selecting full day kindergarten over part day - most likely due to work and child care options - not K8. But I don´t honestly have the causal link. I would like to know full time equivalent numbers. I look forward to asking the candidates.Mostly because our buildings were being closed because we supposedly had 100,000 square feet of extra space based on the enrollment numbers and due to the fact that enrollment was in serious decline. Maybe those trends are reversing? Maybe based on increased enrollment we can open up the current buildings again for their intended use? I don´t know - but I look forward to the possibility of asking.
Here are a few facts for you - clj - the Candidate Forums are being widely advertised - don´t delude yourself by thinking only a few folks have been invited to attend. As a matter of fact, these Forums came out of discussions with people on both sides. They have been in discussion well before the end of last school year. The goal is to get ALL stakeholders out to listen to ALL of the candidates. You can accuse me of whatever you would like, but it doesn´t make it true. I, for one, am a true believer that the voters are smart enough to make their own decisions -whether they agree with me or not. I am not like the current board members who believe that the community it too stupid or uninformed to make sound decisions.The church where one forum will take place is not my church, nor have I even ever met the person who has offered to serve as moderator. The church was donated because these issues are important to the community - in which this church exists. My church, for the record is in Post Falls.Another Candidate Forum is scheduled at the Steelworkers Union Hall -- which I am not a member, nor do I have any family members who have ever been members. That facility has also been donated for this purpose, because they believe it is an important community event.The 2 current board members who are currently campaigning for their positions have agreed to attend. There is one more Candidate Forum in the works as well. It has taken a lengthy time in trying to secure locations that are spread out through the District to attempt to have one close to where people live/work. We have sought out a variety of nights of the week and weekends. I have had each Candidate indicate days that do not work for them - and the dates have been modified to accommodate all of them. So far, every Candidate can attend every event. We might not get a Saturday event because one or both of the incumbents are unable to attend on the proposed Saturdays.So, clj, you can call me names, misrepresent me, or whatever else you might enjoy doing. It doesn´t change any of the facts.
Here´s what I know. Every person (except one) who has spoken to me in the past 6-12 months (district employees, parents, kids, maintenance, bus drivers, teachers, etc.) has thanked me for what I have been standing up for and saying. They follow it up with, "I can´t be seen with you". That is not an environment in which success can flourish. The points made in this piece by the Superintendent are all smoke and mirrors. Kids graduating haven´t been touched by the K8 transition. If graduation rates are up it is due to changes made at the high school. I would assert that those rates are credited to the ability of the school district to give needed credits for graduation outside of the subject matter where the credits are actually lacking. To be fair, this approach to addressing graduation rates apparently isn´t unique to our district - what I´m saying is drawing a causal link between the K8 transition and graduation rates is sketchy at best. The purported decrease in behavioral issues could be attributed to the lack of disciplinary actions - no action, no record, and therefore there are no discipline problems - problem solved. If you don´t expel kids for bad behavior, expulsions go down. If you don´t document problems - the problem goes away on paper - problem solved. Simply telling parents that they are the only person with a "problem" with it (whatever their concern may be) does not make it true. I have been told that I was the only parent who was concerned about kids going into MVMS boarded up building - apparently more parents share my concern. My concern was met with, "be careful what you ask for." My concern was minimized by trying to assert that my "real concern is that my kids are going into an ugly building". Most importantly to me, why didn´t the district notify emergency personnel that kids were going back into that building? Is it because they were worried that the building wouldn´t pass inspection? Because it did. Were they worried that it would create a PR nightmare? Because it did. Were they concerned that it might make the district look bad? Because it did. Or did they simply not consider it an important item to cover? Or did they just not do the planning necessary to foresee these types of issues coming up? I´m not sure which is the case. Based on my experience with this planning process - it is due to the inability to look at details and deal with them proactively as well as trying to "ask forgiveness instead of permission". Whats done is done - oops. Attempting to isolate individuals and tell them that they are the only person with a specific concern is the standard operating procedure in this district. It simply isn´t true that "every parent loves having their elementary age child ride the high school bus". This is what is told to parents who voice this concern. There is no alternative for those parents - other than provide their own transportation. That is not really the same as "everybody else is happy with it, it´s going great". I´m pretty sure the parents of the 4 - 2nd graders who were slapped by a 9th grader on the bus aren´t overjoyed with the situation. I´m pretty sure the parents of the kids who ride on buses with high schoolers who are smoking on the bus, aren´t happy. Those of us who have had to explain to our 7 year olds why there are teenage moms and babies on the bus - and "how do they get pregnant when they are only in high school" - yes, that is a fun conversation to begin the year.It isn´t true that the "teachers are happy and the kids are happy", the teachers and kids are just trying to make the best of a bad situation. That is not the same. Last year, 7th graders had no access to libraries. Nobody "discovered" this until about March. Why? Because this has been properly planned out? Last year, 7th graders were able to avoid the one transition to the middle school building that would have occurred the first day of school - only to trade it for transitioning to and from the middle school daily - for the entire year. Detail planning? Last year I received text messages from my child begging me to come to school, "please help me" - the text said. The classroom was abject chaos and she couldn´t even begin to do her work (not for a day, not for a week, but ALL year). It took until May to get any resolution? Why? My guess is that the principal was so busy trying to implement this plan, that she didn´t have ample time to deal with classroom behavioral and teaching issues. But behavioral issues are down? really?Last year I had to intervene when I overheard a conversation in the back seat of my car about a student threatening another student with bodily harm of a sexual nature. Really, behavioral issues are down? This year, late start Monday´s are spent at EVMS for 6th & 7th orchestra/band kids. Then they go back to their home schools after lunch for their other electives. Except for PEP students, who remain at EVMS for the rest of the day - and then return to the HS on a shuttle to find their HS bus route to take them home. 8th graders stay at EVMS all day for their electives. The district notified parents about this transition on Friday late afternoon before it was to take effect the following Monday. School had already been in session over a week, but zero communication went home to parents before Friday. Many kids missed the correct bus. Many kids got off the bus in the wrong place. Detail planning? What about the special education kids whose parents received no communication about their child being moved to different buildings? No IEP meetings to ensure that everybody knew what was going on. Special education students who are on bus routes that are too long, by law. Just to make this "transition" happen. Detail planning? Communication?Simply stating that this whole mess wasn´t the Superintendent´s idea is simply misleading as well. He has guided this entire process into action without the facilities or resources or planning to do it correctly. He is responsible for the multitude of transitions, he is responsible for the lack of communication. He is responsible for putting too many kids in these buildings that force the use of closed and/or rented space. Parents (including myself) tried to voice that the current elementary school buildings are simply not large enough to accommodate all the kids K-8. I was told that I was wrong and didn´t know what I was talking about. Hmmm, apparently I did know what I was talking about - there isn´t enough room. This entire process has been under his direct command from the beginning. The message has been heard loud and clear - do it or get out. We are doing this "with or without the bond" was heard loud and clear.Kids are being transported across the district to get electives they could have received without mid-day interruption in the middle schools. K8 might be a good model "if" supporting infrastructure is in place to implement correctly.We were told at the most recent board meeting that the start of school went smoothly. Boarded up buildings, bad press, failure to communicate basic information to emergency personnel about what buildings kids are in, failure to communicate with parents about where their children are being hauled to on different days, failure to plan out schedules within schools before kids arrive....etc. Communication has been an absolute failure under this administration. It is impossible to create "seismic change" without proper infrastructure and communication. Both are missing - the seismic change that has occurred as a result has been a seismic failure.What I know -- there is rampant fear of retaliation against families who speak out. Fear of retaliation against teachers and employees who speak out. However thinly veiled the attempts, the threat is heard loud and clear. Fear is the general perspective of almost everyone I have spoken to. I have been warned to "be careful", "don´t tell anyone you spoke to me", "I can´t been seen talking to you", "talk to your kids about a possible visit from CPS to talk to them about your home life". Perspective is reality for many.It´s sad that Glenewinkel can chuckle while his experiment goes forward. I´m sure it will be prominent on his resume. The community has had enough. Many parents have had enough.
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