Elementary school restructuring plan put to bed - for now
Cloquet will remain a town with two K-5 elementary schools. For now. During Monday's Cloquet School Board meeting, members decided not to pursue a study regarding the feasibility of reconfiguring Washington and Churchill elementary schools. The d...
Cloquet will remain a town with two K-5 elementary schools.
During Monday's Cloquet School Board meeting, members decided not to pursue a study regarding the feasibility of reconfiguring Washington and Churchill elementary schools.
The discussion was first brought up by board member Sandy Crowley during the Dec. 11 board meeting. Crowley felt, and still feels, that quality of education should be the key reason for looking into the reconfiguration.
"I think those who truly understand education know that this would be a good move," Crowley stated during Monday night's meeting.
Superintendent of Schools Ken Scarbrough asked the board whether or not they'd like to continue looking into this issue. Due to lack of board support and what Crowley feels is outspoken opposition, she decided it would be in the board's best interest to not pursue an elementary reconfiguration, and no one on the board disagreed with her sentiments.
"In light of the preview of ugliness that might become part of this community over this, I don't feel it's worth going forward with this issue," said Crowley.
Per the board's request, Scarbrough supplied a summary of results from the previous reconfiguration study via PowerPoint. The study in 2004 presented arguments on both sides of the issue when it came to changing around Washington and Churchill elementaries. The committee consisted of several staff members from both elementary buildings.
Highlights from the study:
- Licensed and non-licensed staff members at both Washington and Churchill were asked the question, "Are you in favor of the idea to restructure the elementary schools?"
Response from Washington: 14-Yes, 21-No, 14-Undecided.
Response from Churchill: 24-Yes, 14-No, 5-Undecided.
- The survey naturally yielded both positive and negative comments regarding elementary school restructuring. A few positive factors included having consistent curriculum, elimination of unhealthy competition, sharing of ideas, materials, techniques and strategies, better opportunity to mentor and possibly eliminating the need to move students each year. A few negative factors were the loss of older students as role models, transition of students to other buildings, siblings being split up, the transition of teachers to new staff, supervisor and building, and changing specialist schedules.
- Research states limited evidence of improved student performances with either "grade level schools" (if Washington were to become K-2 and Churchill 3-5) or "district schools" (Cloquet's current public elementary situation). For each report showing preference toward one model, there appears to be a refuting opinion in the other. However, in grade level schools, students share common resources, experiences and facilities, so there would be fewer issues related to inequity and lack of socioeconomic balance. It also stated grade-level schools would minimize budget increases due to sharing of resources.
However, there were several other points of research against the reconfiguration, such as transportation costs, potential building reconstruction costs and the negative affect on students when it comes to frequent transitions between school buildings. In addition, community schools have students who perform better academically and research states children fare better with fewer transitions.
Even though the board decided not to proceed with any kind of reconfiguration study, it's an issue that very well may come up again if history is any indication. It was first researched 10 years ago, two years ago, and nearly again this year.
For now, however, the issue is laid to rest.
- In other school board news, Chairman Gary Huard, Clerk Shelly Pritchett and Treasurer Stephanie Hammitt were re-elected to their positions.
Pine Journal Editor Mat Gilderman can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org .