South Walton Fifth Graders Might Be Moved to Middle School

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Jdarg, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. Esther

    Esther Beach Comber

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    Actually, the class size amendment requires 22 students per classroom for grades 4-8. So, the old ECMS building could house Butler 4th and 5th graders at the same rate and not lose "4 bodies" per classroom. Only grades K-3 must be at 18 students per classroom.
     
  2. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    We certainly agree on that point. I figured you were joking a bit.

    In the 15 years I have been on the school board, funding has been all over the place. We have had exceptionally fat years and then exceptionally lean years. Many times back to back. It is very difficult to plan out more than a year because of that roller coaster ride associated with funding.

    I agree regarding the legislature and funding. I think they are going to leave capital outlay alone. However, the operations side is going to take a large hit. That will certainly affect planning. You cannot build building and then not have the money to put teachers in them.

    But, you never know until the legislature passes a budget goes home.

    Thanks for the comments......
     
  3. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    Unfortunately in any school system you are basically trying to wedge teachers, politicians, and administrators between children and their parents. That's a place most cage fighters, dare devils, and Bering Sea crabbers don't want to be. Knee jerk is the reaction in most cases and you have to be prepared for it and ready to soothe the mob.
     
  4. momof2kids

    momof2kids Beach Fanatic

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    As this years 3rd graders move up to the 4th & 5th grades there will not be enough room for them in the current Butler/ECMS bldg... and to repeat about the ESE and PreK-d classes - we have more of those classes and are legally bound to educate & accommodate those that choose to attend. Because of the class size regulations & those classrooms & the future grades being so much bigger than the current 4th & 5th I think this decision is taking all of that into consideration. As it is right now Butler's music room is the stage in the cafeteria... moving to the current ECMS bldg will not be the end all solution. Those that think it is need to know more facts than rumors.

    It's a lot more than just what's on the surface.
     
  5. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    good point. Why do you suppose there isn't better communication among all parties, especially parents of the children affected?
     
  6. momof2kids

    momof2kids Beach Fanatic

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    I'm not sure, but if all parents were involved in all the decisions of the elected school board then nothing would be solved. The reason there is a board is so there is a body governing the decisions of the school district. there is no way every parent is going to agree on everything - so it falls on the school board to decide & take the heat.

    There are positions for parents to volunteer for that will help them be more informed, but no one wants to volunteer for them because the majority of the parents are working (some 2 jobs) & it involves time out of their busy personal life to commit to driving to DFS for meetings & traveling to the schools to audit things. If the parents out there that are available to volunteer to do it would let the PTO know what's going on I'm sure the PTO would then inform the parents of what is known.

    I am not pro-Carlene or against her, but looking at the growth at Butler over the last 6 years it is obvious that there is no way all students will fit in the school under regulations and the decision shouldn't have been too much of a surprise. However - it should have been made earlier in the school year & parents should have been informed sooner.

    When my child moves to the middle school for 5th grade I know she will be getting to use the latest technology in a new facility. Most of the now 4th grader kids I've heard talking are excited to go. The parents are the ones who don't want their kids to move... Just because they are moving to the middle school doesn't mean they will not be in 5th grade still. It seems to work for DMS, and the kids I know that went there in 5th grade are doing well.

    Kindergartners ride with 5th graders on the bus now & that is a huge age gap. 6th graders ride busses with 12th graders now too and they are fine. Having 5th graders on the bus with 8th graders will be ok too.

    Maybe I am naive, but I believe my kids will be fine. We have prepared them for all kinds of things in life. We talk about drugs, sex, strangers, bullying, fighting, standing up for themselves, right & wrong, and when they come home with a question about anything we answer honestly and openly about what's right & wrong about it & consequences.
     
  7. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    "it should have been made earlier in the school year & parents should have been informed sooner. "

    that was my only point. I tend to think there is more to this than meets the eye, but regardless, the communication certainly could have been handled more appropriately IMO.
     
  8. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    Maybe now is the time to organize a group of representatives from Butler, Bay, ECMS, Seaside, and South Walton HS. This group could attend school board meetings, keep up with issues that affect our schools, represent our schools' educational interests, and keep parents and teachers up-to-date on school district matters that affect South Walton schools.

    Even better, this group could even write a summary of each school board meeting for the school newsletters. I think many parents are interested in knowing what is going on and how things work, but the process and distance is cumbersome. Also, many work and have kids in activities at night. I know I know, there were some meetings down here, but they were discontinued before they ever had a chance to take root. The DeFuniak Herald/Beach Breeze covers the meetings, but not all parents get the paper. (Another reason why everyone should subscribe to this paper- to know what is going on in Walton County.)

    Communication is key, but we may have to create the way the information gets to us.
     
  9. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    I'll bet parents in other cities who worry about their children being gunned down or kidnapped would love to only worry about something like this.
     
  10. Bob

    Bob SoWal Insider

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    shuffle kids around like cattle, take away teacher pay/benefits, and then complain you are over taxed living in a state with no income tax. time to brew some bitter tea.
     
  11. organicmama

    organicmama Beach Fanatic

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    Don't act like it's not something to worry about. I take being a parent quite seriously, whatever the issue is.
     
  12. Esther

    Esther Beach Comber

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    I agree with jdarg. We asked at the Board meeting to be allowed to be a part of a "task force" that includes parents to address this problem of shortage of elementary classrooms in South Walton and help come up with viable solutions that are in the best interest of this school age group of students. Our group of parents plans to be at the budget planning meetings in June and the October meeting that will review FTE counts. Through this process over the last few weeks, we have become more educated about the 5 year plan that is used to determine building projects for the district. We understand what both elementary schools are facing with their shortage of space. We have parents in our group that have ESE students, so we are well aware of the issues involving these sudents. We know what the problems are at ECMS and on the buses from personal experience. Our main goal is to protect our children and do whatever work is necessary to provide them with the best educational environment that is age appropriate. We are glad that the decision for the 2011-2012 school year was to make 5th grade at ECMS optional, like it is in Destin, which allows parents to choose the best educational environment for their child.
     
  13. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    I'm not saying it's not something to worry about, but FTLOG put things in perspective. If this is the big issue of education in South Walton then I'd say we are doing extremely well.
     
  14. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    There's an election right around the corner. Perhaps if the school board had members on it that actually lived in the south end of the county and had students attending those schools something would happen.
     
  15. momof2kids

    momof2kids Beach Fanatic

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    Is there someone in your group that can let the PTO's of both Bay & Butler know what is going on at the meetings & such that you attend? Butler has a email program to inform parents of whats happening maybe it can be used to keep the info flowing...

    Also - how does one become a part of your group?
     
  16. Esther

    Esther Beach Comber

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    We would be happy to share all information we learn and what was discussed at the School Board meetings in any way that the schools will allow. At this point, most of our shared information has gone out through emails. I think informed parents are an invaluable asset for their children and many parents aren't able to attend meetings in DeFuniak. Anyone who would like to be a part of this group is welcome to join. Being new to using SoWal, I'm not sure of the best way, but you can contact me and I will let you know what we are currently working on and when we will be meeting. We have moms and dads in the group, and would love others in the community who could contribute to solving this growing problem of needing more classrooms in the south end of the county. This will eventually affect the high school as well. Immediate planning and building seem to be key at this point. The biggest obstacle we faced was obtaining accurate and timely information from the district. We did find that the 2006 5 Year Building Plan included adding wings to Bay and Butler, so our question was why these plans changed. We did feel that the Board was listening at the last meeting, and also wanted answers to some of the questions we asked. I think this cooperative sharing of information will only help all involved - the children, parents, District, and community.
     
  17. momof2kids

    momof2kids Beach Fanatic

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    I had a relative in town over the weekend with a 13 yr old boy who said that in his middle school kids bring guns; drugs are everywhere; girls are offering sexual favors in the bathrooms during school hours; fights are happening daily...

    All I can say is thank goodness the few bad things that happen in our middle schools are nothing like his experiences. He was amazed at our schools & what they have to offer compared to his "big city" school...

    **(And by "bad" I don't mean moving the students)
     
  18. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    How much of a factor is school choice in contributing to crowding?

    There seem to be a lot of students who don't live here, but go to school here by choice.
     
  19. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    where do they live?
     
  20. Esther

    Esther Beach Comber

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    We asked the same question. The superintendent said there are only a few students at Bay and Butler that are from other counties. They have approved waivers that allow them to attend our elementary schools. There are also students that come to our schools from Freeport and north Walton. Our district does not have any inforced zoning and allows students to go to any school within the district, but they do not provide transportation out of your zone. We were not told how many students out of the south walton zone are attending Bay and Butler, but feel this number is significant. We asked about inforcing zoning to help alleviate overcrowding and grandfathering in the children currently attending schools out of their zone. We are not for displacing children. Ms. Anderson said that many parents from the north end of the county work in the south end, and they want their children going to school in the south end. She said she does not want to go to zoning for this reason. However, she did suggest that the Board should look at this issue.
     

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