Out of Left Field

We’ve been aware for a while now that our elementary school is over capacity and that the school district is taking steps to alleviate the problem.  In fact when we were registering Cameron for Kindergarten we got a notice that they were asking families to change to another of the elementary schools in the district.  In a way the change wouldn’t have been too bad for us.  Our house happens to be located almost exactly between the two schools.  I know I’ve posted this map before but I think it’s worth posting again:

MapWe decided against making the move because we knew we didn’t want to move Brendan to the other school.  We’ve got his team of special ed teachers that we are comfortable with and that know him very well.  We thought trying to get the boys to two separate elementary schools would be too much of a hassle.  Especially once Kaylee started pre-school later in the year.

About a month ago we were notified that the school district was redrawing the boundaries for the neighborhoods to re-allocate which neighborhoods attended which school.  There was no indication in the notice of when these proposed changes would be put into place, or if any of the kids would be grandfathered into their old school.  I looked at the proposed map and saw that our neighborhood was being changed over to the other school.

When Matt and I first heard about the change we were mad as hornets about it.  How could they do this to us?  We’ve spent the last 5 years at this one elementary school and thought that all of our kids would go there and now they’re telling us that can’t happen?  What kind of crap is that?  There was a school district meeting a few nights later that parents could attend to voice their opinions and concerns.  We planned to go, to give them a piece of our mind, to raise a ruckus, to tell them they couldn’t do this to us.

Then we stopped, and thought about what it was that was making us mad.  And really we had no reason for not wanting to change schools other than keeping Brendan with his team.  As we talked through it more we realized that we didn’t know when the proposed changes were to take place and if it wasn’t for another school year or two then Brendan wouldn’t even be impacted.  If Brendan wasn’t impacted it really didn’t matter to us if Cameron and Kaylee were forced to switch, especially since a good chunk of Cameron’s current classmates would be in the same boat he was.

So we decided not to go to the meeting.  We decided that our grievances were really not much more than whining.  We figured that we would wait for additional information before flying off the handle and then we would deal with the situation as it arose.  We also realized that we probably had some pretty good justification for keeping Brendan right where he was if push came to shove and we could petition the school district to keep him there if necessary.

Since then we’ve received periodic updates on the progress of the proposed changes.  The other thing to note about them was that only our elementary school was impacted in the proposal.  Once we finished with elementary school our neighborhood continued to dump into the same middle school it always had.  So as long as we could get Brendan through 5th grade then he wouldn’t be impacted by these changes at all.

The last notification we got from the district said that the proposal was being voted on by the school district and the superintendent would announce the final plan somewhere in mid-December.  So we were not expecting to receive any further information about this process until that time.  That’s why when we received the email from Brendan’s principal on Tuesday, it felt like it came right out of left field.  It said:

During the November 18th meeting of the Board of Education, the Board heard a report on the parent committee suggestions, comments from the superintendent and concerns from parents and families.  The superintendent will give the administrative recommendation for enrollment and boundaries on December 16.  He stated that it is the hope of the district to grandfather as much as the numbers will allow, and he would like to see all current middle school students and fifth grade students have the option to remain on their current school track.  The Board will continue the discussions and may make a decision at the December 16th meeting.

So far so good.  I haven’t read anything here that I wasn’t already aware of.  But in reading that I really began to wonder why they would be sending out this notification again.  And why this one came directly from our principal instead of the school district as the previous ones had always done.  I read on:

While the process is ongoing, the district has already determined that due to the overcapacity of our elementary school, students residing in your neighborhood will be reassigned beginning in the Fall of 2014. 

Wait…what???!??!  Where did that come from?  Why is this really the first we are hearing that things are quite this crowded at the school?  Our school does use a portable building.  In fact, they’ve had it ever since Brendan’s class started elementary school and it’s actually been his grade that’s been out there every year because they’re the biggest.  So if this has been a problem for that long why now are we “over capacity”  So instantly my hackles were raised because this was going to impact Brendan after all.  I knew I’d need to get on the phone with my parents to see if they could remember what they had done to petition the school district to prevent me changing high schools in my sophomore year.

Students who are currently fourth graders and their siblings are eligible to stay at our elementary school. 

Oh.  Guess I should have read on.  Oops.  My bad.

Families are advised to review the entire track for their student as your neighborhood and the new proposed boundary assigns them to a new middle school.  Both the previous middle school assignment and the new assignment will track to the same High School.  The paperwork process for those eligible students who want to continue at Reagan will be communicated after the December 16th Board meeting.

Whoa.  Not out of the woods yet.  We’re being re-assigned to a different middle school?  Why?  There have always been 4 elementary schools that dump into the middle school we were assigned to.  They included the one we are in, the one we are changing to, the one Brendan’s friend moved to this school year, and one other in the area.  Part of what helped Brendan get over losing his friend in school this year was that he only had to get through two school years before the boys would be at the same school again.  Now that’s changing.  Now they’re saying we have to go to this other middle school.

Location wise, it’s not that big of a change:

Middle School

The new school is about a mile further East, but the old one is a mile further South.  So when you’re looking at distance travelled it all evens out.  I’m familiar with the new school we are assigned to because it was built when I was still going to school and a bunch of my middle school teachers moved over to the new school after it was built.  But it won’t have Brendan’s friend, because in looking at the proposed changes his neighborhood isn’t impacted at all.  They’re slated to stay where they are and follow the original track up through high school.

Does this mean that he and Brendan can’t remain friends?  Of course not.  As I said before I still have a couple of very good friends from when I was growing up.  One who I haven’t seen since we were in 5th grade, the other since 7th.  But with Brendan already being upset about this friend moving, and now having his other best friend moving away he’s going to have to start over to find friends who are in school with him.  And he never had an easy time making friends in the first place.

The school is helping out some.  They actually have some groups for kids like Brendan who have a hard time making friends.  They put these kids together and have them meet every few weeks.  The purpose is to both show the kids that there are others like them and maybe even get those specific kids talking together and hopefully making friends with each other, and even if that doesn’t work they use the time together to give them pointers and tips on making friends.  His third grade teacher advised we put him into it, and his fourth grade teacher recommended it again after the incident a couple of weeks ago.

I think it’s a good thing for Brendan.  We are really happy that his elementary school time won’t be impacted by these changes, and that a big chunk of his classmates will be moving with him to the new middle school in 2015.  Hopefully he will use the rest of his time in elementary school to build new friendships and relationships and won’t go on to middle school feeling like he doesn’t have a friend in the world.



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