The school district’s “efficiency options” plan is anything but
To the Editor: I wish to express my frustration with the current activities of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District’s “Efficiency Options.”
They say they want feedback and engagement, but their actions suggest otherwise. Only two separate options (closing three elementary schools and moving grades 6-8 to middle school; closing two elementary schools and Randy Smith Middle School and keeping elementary schools K-6) with a corollary were presented; minimal context of other options considered and rejected, and why, can be found in public documents.
At the January 10 Board of Education business session (available on YouTube), it was claimed that the Effectiveness Feedback Report showed parent support for moving to a middle school model from sixth to eighth grade, but this is probably only true in the context of parents. wishing to avoid shutting down Randy Smith. So far, the FNSBSD has selected a sample of questions to answer regarding efficiency options without publishing the questions it has chosen not to answer. Having received no feedback on my contribution, I present it here.
My experience working with K-12 students and different grade level configurations in different school districts is that the disparity between ninth and twelfth graders is the most problematic in schools. The possibility of closing two elementary schools, making middle schools grades 7-9 (usually called middle school) and high schools grades 10-12, and partially closing and/or repurposing a high school, a- was it considered? If so, why was this idea rejected?
Given an option that did not involve the closure of a much-loved middle school, I think the district would find that most elementary parents (including my wife and I) would prefer to keep their children at their neighborhood school until in the sixth year.