I was encouraged to contact my representatives on the Jersey Shore School Board regarding the consolidation of the district. Following is part of what was submitted:
As appointed representatives for your constituents, I would like to know how you are making the decision to consolidate. You are the voice of the people. How do you know what your people want? Have you taken surveys in your respective townships? Have you attended PTO meetings or met with parents in groups to discuss? We may not be as opposed to this consolidation if you can give us realistic reasons for doing it. As it currently sits, parents and teachers have not been actively invited to participate in any type of planning.
I would also like to know whose idea consolidation was. Is this the board's idea? The administration's idea? Whose judgement are we trusting? And why?
"Because you have space" is not a good enough reason to consolidate. You have to make good use of the space you have. Why don't you move the students out of the dilapidated, rodent-infested Jersey Shore Elementary School and into the available space in the middle school?
We have also been told that if we do not consolidate, you will have to cut programs. Which programs? What are you proposing? We already pay for our children to play sports.
Right now, the children attending Salladasburg Elementary are doing very well academically and much of that success I attribute to excellent teachers in our small, family-oriented environment. What happens when the consolidation occurs and we see test scores drop because of the drastic change in the school environment and social disruption? If you vote to move forward with the renovation and closings of our elementary schools, there is no going back once we find that our children are not thriving as they once were.
How do the student/teacher ratios compare to the proposed figures? Will class sizes increase? Too many students in one classroom is detrimental to the overall success of the students. Have the school board members looked into other districts who have recently consolidated? Have they taken the time to research the effect the change has had to student scores? Loyalsock is one such school and the parents I've spoken to there have said the school is now bursting at the seams and they've noticed their children are not getting the same attention they once were and their test scores are suffering.
How's the school district going to protect their proposed $14.1M investment when it stands in a flood zone? How long would $14.1M keep our outlying schools running?
If we didn't care about the success of our children or the overcrowded environment, we would live in Williamsport. But we don't. We love our schools. We love our teachers. But more importantly we love our children and want them to succeed academically, emotionally and socially. Our small schools enrich our children in more ways than you could ever imagine. Please weigh your options seriously and realize there is so much at stake besides tax payer dollars.
Bethany J. McClain
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom