We are going to struggle enough getting our kids excited to go back to school and ready to learn, now we have to explain to them that they aren’t going to have the same building, staff or principal they had last year?
I’ve had a few days to let this sink in and gather my thoughts. I am 100% behind grade leveling, it will improve access to services, state testing, and hopefully our state report card. I know that it is a process that needs to be done well and not rushed in a 6-8 week time frame. I also know that many of our teachers are not a fan of this, which I also understand. This question was raised multiple times, at various meetings and the answer was always no. It was asked at a South PTO meeting and it was shot down immediately, and now it’s our best option.
As a member of the community, a PTO president, and a school counselor I have to bring up trauma and mental health. Every student and teacher across the country was sent home with the hope of coming back to school, we didn’t come back. Personally, I struggled with knowing that my kids at Strasburg didn’t have food, access to mental health, or their routine in general. At home, I listened to my kids do zoom calls and our teachers make the best of a bad situation. Our NP staff did an amazing job but to ask them to grade-level now, I believe it is not fair. Now onto our students, what they need now is CONSISTENCY and structure, which I believe is common sense.
This is a traumatic event, we have all had trauma training in education recently, and we are going against the basis of it. This will also continue to be more traumatic if we push our kids into buildings they don’t know with a staff they aren’t comfortable with in the fall. We are going to struggle enough getting our kids excited to go back to school and ready to learn, now we have to explain to them that they aren’t going to have the same building, staff or principal they had last year? The mental health aspect is huge right now, I know we are contracted with Community Mental Health (CMH), but I also know the ins and outs of it. Please don’t tell the community they are reaching all students because that is not true. They do basic classroom lessons and aren’t in the classrooms enough to build any type of relationship. Relationships are what the students need most right now, they need them to feel safe and that is not going to happen when they are put into an unfamiliar environment.
Onto the foundation money that the district receives for each student. Not sure how much time you each spend on Facebook but the community is now split (again). I’ve seen more than one comment about “not being a Quaker much longer” and “we might as well move our kids to online”. Because I work in a district where I get to wear many hats, I know that if a family picks an online school other than QDA, Phila will lose all of that student’s foundation money and then may also owe more. If other families choose to attend a catholic school (which I’ve also heard a lot of chatter about) we again lose money. So, we aren’t closing any buildings, we have floater teachers discussed in the agenda minutes and I can’t believe that we would be cutting staff to keep class sizes small. Where is the financial savings coming from, another big question I keep seeing asked. Please be transparent, I know I don’t want to go through what we did this winter and spring, that’s not fair to our community.
In closing, I want you each to know that I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes. The levy just about tore our town apart, in part to many people believing it was handled poorly. This is going to be the same story with even harsher consequences if we don’t do this right. Please reconsider grade leveling for the 2021-22 school year. Give the community time to adjust to life with COVID-19 and the trauma that is coming with it. We all want what is best for our community and kids. Grade leveling has many positive outcomes, I can’t stress that enough, we are on board with it, but this is not the right time.
Lindsey Tidrick, M.Ed. School Counseling
President of Tuscarawas Area Counselors Association
President of South Elementary PTO