Dr. Wardynski has become quite adept at breaking promises lately. Last night, when the board voted unanimously to turn Mt. Gap Elementary and Mt. Gap Middle into a single school in the summer of 2012, he added another one to his list.
Nearly two months ago on September 15, 2011, Dr. Wardynski introduced the concept of turning six of our schools into three. This was called his P-8 plan. In short, this was a plan to combine Mt. Gap Elementary and Mt. Gap Middle School into just one school which would offer classes from Pre-K (a new addition) through 8th grade under one roof and one administration. He further announced that the same conversion would occur at Whitesburg Elementary and Middle, as well as at Chapman Elementary and Middle.
In short, six schools would be consolidated into three: Mt. Gap P-8, Whitesburg P-8, and Chapman P-8.
Last night, the board made this recommendation official. Because of the pending retirement of Mr. Tim Sutton in December, the Whitesburg conversion has been moved forward to begin in December of 2011. The other conversion for Chapman and Mt. Gap will begin in the summer of 2012.
For the record, I remain open-minded about this change. It is possible that it could be a good move. There are a few studies (such as this and this) available that seem to imply that such consolidations have had positive effects on student performance in other systems. Mr. King in his presentation last night claimed that this transition would allow for increased collaboration and easier transitions from the elementary school to the middle school (although he offered no evidence supporting his claims).
However, this decision has not been discussed with parents nor with the Mt. Gap community, as Dr. Wardynski promised. He broke his word.
At the September 15th meeting, at about 5:43pm, Dr. Wardynski said concerning the P8 decision:
We’re going to go down and have a discussion with the community, the PTAs and the principals and make sure that that concept fits with what the community would like to see. And then once we’ve got that, John’s already working on some concept drawings, come back to the board with a discussion about how that would unfold for board approval.
It is my understanding that Dr. Wardynski did meet with the PTA boards for Mt. Gap Elementary and Middle Schools on the morning of September 26th. I believe that the principals were present at this meeting as well. However, this was a closed meeting that was not open to parents nor the community at large. I do not know if these changes were discussed with the Whitesburg community or the Chapman community, but the promised meeting with the Mt. Gap community has not taken place or even been scheduled as of this writing.
As much as I appreciate the thankless and time-consuming work of our PTA boards, they are not elected to represent the entire community, and Dr. Wardynski knows this.
Two months is a sufficient time to schedule and announce a meeting, and frankly if it weren’t, there was no reason why the board had to vote last night to approve this decision. The recommendation as presented to the board from the superintendent was a jumbled mess anyway. They had to edit it several times before they approved it to get the dates correct. The recommendation could have been a limited one dealing only with Whitesburg, since Whitesburg is the only school impacted by an early retirement.
There was no need to rush this decision through; it will not be implemented until the summer of 2012 anyway. Parents could have been involved as Dr. Wardynski promised they would be. But no. Having parents involved in decisions affecting their children’s education only complicates matters.
Dr. Wardynski talks a good talk. He claims that he wants the schools to be good neighbors. Well, it seems that he has a lot to learn about being neighborly. Neighbors, sir, talk to each other.
Last night, because of a failure to communicate and involve the community in one of his decisions, Dr. Wardynski ordered that the Lee High School letters be placed back on the facade of the new Lee High School building. He said, “There’s been any number of councilmen and officials call to inform me that I’ve made a gargantuan mistake.”
A majority of the crowd cheered when he said this, and I acknowledge that it takes character to admit that you’ve made a mistake; however, the mistake wasn’t taking down the letters, which is easily and hopefully cheaply remedied. The mistake was that this decision was made without involving the community.
It seems that he was unable or unwilling to learn from that mistake.
I stopped by Mt. Gap this morning to take a picture of our lettering before they are taken down as well. Hopefully, Dr. Wardynski will “come down” to talk with parents soon even though he’s already gotten the approval of the board.
We shouldn’t have to contact “any number of councilmen and officials” to get a response out of him. He works for us. I wonder what promise he’ll break next?