Fairness in Training: Discussion board, survey spotlight opposition to restructuring | Information

CLAREMONT – Claremont school district reorganization proposal moves ahead next month despite strong public opposition and concerns about the district’s readiness for budget talks.

More than 60 residents attended a public forum Monday to discuss the school district’s ambitious proposal to restructure its three elementary schools from overlapping K-5 programs into a single, interconnected system.

Under the proposal, Claremont would restructure its three neighborhood elementary schools by assigning each school to specific grades. Maple Avenue would house all preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students; Disnard will supervise students in grades two and three; and Bluff will serve students in grades four and five.

Proponents of the restructuring point to the borough’s construction problem, which creates inequality in class sizes and teaching experience. Claremont has three elementary schools with a total enrollment of only about 870 students. The schools differ significantly in size and demographics. Maple Avenue has 379 students, 120 more students than Disnard, the district’s second largest elementary school.

During the 2020-2021 school year, Maple Avenue had 49 fourth graders, resulting in 25 children per classroom, while Bluff had only 13 students per classroom with just 26 fourth graders.

In addition, each school has its own curriculum and different student populations.

“I’ve seen inconsistencies in students depending on which elementary school they’re from,” said Alex Hill, a computer teacher at Claremont Middle School. “I think this is an inconsistency that could be reduced by consolidation, because if every student goes through the same school, they will go through the same.” [instruction] and teachers, which gives us more consistency and also enables us to intervene more specifically from the students. “

Residents also liked the idea of ​​having more economically diverse classrooms and allowing students to get to know everyone in their pre-middle school cohort.

“There are certain parts of Claremont that are poorer and have more” [cases of] Trauma and substance abuse problems, ”said Pamela Ruest, Claremont’s mother. “If we could bring all children together, it would firstly be fairer for everyone and secondly, the students would benefit from each other.”

But the majority of opinions on Monday expressed concern or opposition.

Several parents and educators feared that frequent school changes would have a negative impact on the socio-emotional wellbeing of many children, especially children whose lives are unstable.

“A great consolation for [my own son] last year was his school, ”said Becky Cook, the mother of Maple Avenue. “He had teachers and counselors whom he could trust. He had friends, not just in his own class, but above and below. And it was this stability that helped him get through things. “

Early Childhood Education Teacher Samantha Torres noted the high number of children in the district struggling with adverse childhood experiences for whom school is one of the few stable, safe and familiar havens for them.

“Without creating a secure base in their most formative years, they tend to be anxious and make less use of their learning opportunities,” said Torres. “So you can include enrichments and excursions, but if a child is jumping back and forth, it will not take in any of it.”

Many of the questions asked were not answered conclusively.

According to Superintendent Michael Tempesta, the district’s current focus is on whether the restructuring will be cost-effective, which Tempesta said will determine whether or not the district will continue to operate.

In the meantime, the district still has many logistical details to deal with, Tempesta said. How the restructuring will affect the district’s multi-level, self-contained support center, or whether the district will continue restructuring without the establishment of a universal pre-kindergarten that the district is hoping for, the school principal could not say by restructuring the staff.

Several parents were concerned that the district was moving too quickly without gathering sufficient information or finding out important details. While Tempesta’s presentation identified the 2023-2024 school year as the target date for implementation, Tempesta said he wanted to keep the possibility of the next school year open.

Many parents, including some who were open to the idea of ​​restructuring, thought the next school year would be unwise.

“Personally, I think these kids have been through a lot,” said Molly LeDuca, the mother of Maple Avenue. “All of us as parents can say that we have seen many changes in our children [during the pandemic]. . . I think the stability factor of an environment they know, especially for the next coming school year, is crucial. “

Tempesta said the district hopes to complete its budgetary analysis of a restructuring proposal “in the next three weeks”.

In a recent online survey of the proposal, nearly 200 of the 363 respondents said they were against the restructuring, while around 80 respondents were unsure. Of the total survey responses, 250 participants were district parents, 92 employees, and 21 community members.


Don’t miss these tips!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.