Letter: Junior High Boundary Changes Would Turn Students, Families 'Upside Down'
Nov 14, 2016 02:47PM ● Published by Steven Jack
There are three plans that went to the school board to be discussed further. Unfortunately for some district parents, plan 3B is the proposal of uprooting 715 junior high students from their current schools. Due to a proposed change of junior high feeders. 53.1 percent of Thompson's students. 42.2 percent of Traughber's students. 8 percent of Plank students.
The "flip" of students between Thompson and Traughber equals 10 more students at Traughber. That is all. 10 students moved to Traughber. 666 affected between Thompson and Traughber with the “flip”. Data provided states student population decreasing at all three junior highs affected by plan 3B each school year after the 2017/2018 school year. This is with the current feeders in place. Why move all of these students for a two year bubble that will burst after 2018? This is a question I have heard many times.
Studies have shown that students suffer academically and mentally from a school move in this age group in particular. Anxiety and depression are common. Three schools in three school years for incoming 7th graders in particular would be a complete catastrophe, yet a reality for the students affected if plan 3B is approved.
This aspect plus the changes biologically and socially children this age experience is a heavy burden for them to carry. Learning a whole new staff, teachers, new classmates, school floor plan. Just after figuring out their last junior high. Every child handles change differently. Every child has their own struggles and strengths. Stability in their world at school and home is the most valuable gift we as adults can give our tweens. This helps build a solid foundation in their lives.
One parent had two children attending two different junior highs at the same time. I have been told this 3B plan is due to geography. The only issue with that statement is our students were bused to all the schools listed above for years. Two of these schools we were transferred to were over 8.5 miles away. We have always been on an island boundary-wise because there is no junior high on the west side of the river in 308.
However history is repeating itself and the same families are being impacted now into our second decade. Traughber is just as much our home as any other neighborhood that attends there. Route 71 now finishing up, the commute to Traughber is easier than ever. Orchard Road and Route 30. Not so much.
What should be expected is for every neighborhood to be looked at fairly and with thought to how much each neighborhood and their families has sacrificed in the past with boundary changes. In this respect the past is just as important when building a future plan for all of 308. There are many ways these numbers can be looked at without affecting such a large number of our district pre-teens.
The connections to Traughber staff, teachers, sport teams and friends means the world to our students. I ask that you please look at the age group this is affecting and the ripple affect it will have. I understand this is an enormous responsibility and how much hard work has been put in place.
I understand many of you are parents as well and understand how complex this age group of students is. I am eternally grateful for how transparent the board has been with parents and community in regards to the proposed changes. Thank you.