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Letter: Junior High Boundary Changes Would Turn Students, Families 'Upside Down'

Nov 14, 2016 02:47PM ● Published by Steven Jack

The proposed boundary changes in Oswego 308 have been a very stressful issue to many students and parents throughout the district.

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.
Junior high is the most challenging and heart wrenching age range to uproot students. Their stability in teachers, friends, coaches, dean’s assistants, school counselors, staff, school clubs and sport team bonds is a huge part of a their identity. Knowing they belong. Knowing what school they belong too. School pride.

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.  
The pressure to accept this plan, in particular to “flip” this group of students in these neighborhoods has been strong from many avenues. Why? This is a huge amount of students and families turned upside down. There is another plan (3A) that affect only 125 student’s. Or plan 3C for example that keeps the all the feeders the same. 
We live in the Lakewood Creek Subdivision. Our boundary changes over the years include Fox Case, Boulder Hill, Bednarcik, Plank, Thompson, Traughber, OHS, OEHS then back to OHS again. One Lakewood parent had a student moved to seven different schools. Seven.

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.  
Traughber via Route 71 (the fastest and most safe commute I have been told) is only 6.6 miles away. I am left to wonder why our Lakewood student’s continue to be the chess pieces moved at the junior high level. Our location and geography is suddenly an issue after having a steady junior high.  
Our Lakewood children have done their time over the last decade and a half with boundary changes. As any new subdivision should have. New subdivisions that are causing the population increase should be the first looked at first for boundary changes, just as Lakewood was when we were first built.

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.
I understand the district is looking to the future. It is a huge task. A enormously important task. Eastview Kindergarten students need to fit in their home schools. That is a fact. However affecting this massive amount of students for a temporary 2 year population spike at the junior level is not right. Of course not everyone will be happy. That is a given.

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.
Traughber has been our only steady junior high and our home. Traughber has given our students in Lakewood the stability they need after all the years of changing junior highs. We are a very proud Panther community in Lakewood Creek. We love our school.

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.

Julie Lanzara

Education, Today, News, Opinion

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