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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
An issue has recently come up at my ds's elementary school that a small group of mothers and I have challenged and the results have so far been educational...

There are some major renovations taking place over the summer on the building and they include the removal and replacement of windows, which is desperately necessary. However, they will only be replacing 40% of the windows at eye level, the rest will be filled in for wall space. The school is unique by today's standards in that it has many big beautiful windows, the rooms are full of natural light (except on the north side), and losing a significant amount of those windows is tragic, IMO. The windows are what give the building appeal. I personally also have concerns about the effect of fluorescent light on the children as well. Not to mention that children of that age should not have to learn in a box. Their reasoning, by the the way, is that less windows makes for a better learning environment and better energy conservation--which I am all for, but not in this situation, I think they are sacrificing the learning environment here.

So...we parents have approached the superintendent, expressed our concerns to the school board, we have, in a very controversial move, also passed out flyers in an attempt to inform other parents (nobody knew about this!!). We have also outlined a couple of compromises and their cost to the board/super...and we have gotten nothing but stall tactics and little cooperation from the board/super. Information that we have requested has never come to us, calls have not been returned. Furthermore, they are laughing at us (this being a small town, little goes unseen and unheard, and a friend witnessed an informal gathering of 2 board members + super and they were actually LAUGHING at a letter from us!!)

Part of the problem is that we are coming in at the last minute, because we trully had no idea this was happening until a couple of weeks ago and they are due to begin construction next week. There was one notice in the paper less that two months ago, but obviously no one reads the paper because we have all found out through word of mouth (originating from teachers), though this project, along with other renovations, has been ongoing for 4 years. No public input meetings were held that I am aware of. All of us moms are also guilty of not attending the board meetings to be better informed and I regret coming in at the last minute, however, that does not condone the behavior of the board and the super, and their refusal to cooperate with us.

Futhermore, since this has come up, I have heard many more horrible stories about the behavior and decisions of the board and the superintendent--the super appears to have total control over the board. All of it scares me. We have tried to make to best of public school but are fully repulsed by the way those in charge treat their parents, not to mention teachers, who feel like they cannot speak up on anything. Our only other option is homeschooling, which I am considering more + more everyday.

So...Thank for you allowing me this oppurtunity for venting. Sorry this post is so long! I am also wondering, are other school districts like this too?? Any advice, support, similar experience would be appreciated!

Thanks,
~Erin

PS...their board meeting is tonight and we are on the agenda, though at the very end (another stall tactic??). We'll see how it goes...
 

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I would be really frustrated!

I don't know if this is school board politics, or just small town politics (my family is currently protesting a law that no one knew about until it was passed), but I hear about things like this all of the time. We homeschool, but I still have a sibling in the school that I went to. When I hear about some of the things that school district pulls, I just have to shake my head. I just can't believe the things they have done in the past, and the things they do now!

I wish you good luck in making a difference.
 

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Oh dear, I really feel for you. I'd be really upset about losing those windows too.

Can you get your PTO or PTA involved in your fight? Have you asked your school principal his/her opinion on this? In my experience, principals are extremely reluctant to rebel against school boards, (naturally) but it might be helpful to you to know if your principal is opposed to the window changes or if she's embracing them.

In answer to your question, no, not all school boards and supes are this heartless. I've been involved in fights against my own school board and while I lost my fight and think they treated me and a group of parents unfairly, they don't strike me as the type to laugh at parents behind their backs.
 

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Quote:
a friend witnessed an informal gathering of 2 board members + super and they were actually LAUGHING at a letter from us!!
That would be a violation of the Brown Act. The super is not supposed to meet with more than one board member at a time or it becomes a board meeting and is supposed to have an agenda, a public hearing portion and on and on...
 

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Sorry you're having to deal with this.
I have wittnesesd the superintendant of special ed mocking parents in his office, unfortunately. It doesn't surprise me to hear of the behavior of these people at all.
 

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Ugh. Doing things on the sly. Making fun of people. Exactly why are they involved in education?

I worked in a school that had one window in the room. It was okay -- no one thought it was ideal, but it was what we had to work with. We opened the door for more light whenever possible. I'm surprised that the teachers were quiet about it for so long -- or didn't they know until recently?

All I can add is that board members are elected. They can be replaced in the future.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by MamaLuna
PS...their board meeting is tonight and we are on the agenda, though at the very end (another stall tactic??). We'll see how it goes...
Didn't read the whole thread, but this caught my eye. It IS a stall tactic. This tactic was employed by the city council in our town during a development fight. They would put the citizen group's issue on the agenda last so that it would come up at midnight or so and only a few people could stay for the discussion. Yuck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for your support and input!

An update: we received information shortly before the board meeting that confirmed that there was simply no possibility of being able to change the plans and install more windows before the start of school in the fall, as the windows would take 8-10 wks to arrive....so, we had to give up the fight, which was a defeat while also a relief as this has been so emotionally draining! During the board meeting, the members *acted* more willing to listen and work with us than they have to date, probably because they knew it was too late. Some however actually sneered at us (me) when I explained my concern about view, natural light, etc, and we were thoroughly lectured for not stepping in sooner. GRRRRRR! They weren't elected to the board to be condescending!

In response to a couple of things mentioned...Normally going to the principle would be a reasonable thing to do, in this case though, the issue of the principle is the first issue I have taken to the super and the board, with similar responses. To sum it up, she is better suited as a prison warden and is very befitting of the "prison theme" of the soon-to-be near-windowless school!

That said, it is understandable that the teachers of the school feel that they have no power or say, not to mention respect and appreciation. It is certainly a time of "my way or the highway" under this super, board, and principle. It's very depressing...it has in fact made up my mind about my future. I started going back to school this year with the goal of majoring in special ed/elem ed because I felt that my heart would be in the right place working with special ed kids...I am now re-thinking my major as I know that I simply cannot work under these people and in that environment, and we intend to stay in this town.

Also, they were recently two new members voted to the board (actually, one new, one re-elected)...I voted for the one that openly vowed to shake things up and get rid of the principle, he (of course!) didn't win
....

Thanks for listening!
~Erin
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sarasprings
Ugh. Doing things on the sly. Making fun of people. Exactly why are they involved in education?
Power.

Pure and simple.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cumulus
""First, God created idiots. That was just practice. Then he created school boards." ~ Mark Twain
Excellent quote from good old Samuel Clemens.

Another one...

When asked about what kind of education he had, he remarked in words to the effect, "Except for the years I spent in school, I have had a good education."

Keep in mind that he was born in the same year Horace Mann opened the first public school in MA, 1836.
 
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