The Economically Feasible Option

UPDATED

The Economically Feasible approach was proposed at the February 10th board meeting.

The Proposal

Any parent of a rising 1st through 5th grader may request traditional math textbook based instruction (“the traditional track”) for their child at their base school by 30 April 2009.

In any grade level where there are enough students to comprise an economically feasible traditional math text class, at least one will be formed. “Economically feasible” will vary from school to school. The Superintendent shall report to the Board on what each school considers to be an economically feasible size, how many parents requested the traditional track, how many classes are to be formed and at which schools by 31 May 2009. Once initiated, a traditional track class will continue year to year through the elementary grades, unless class numbers fall below 90% of the economically feasible size for that school.

Where there are not enough students in a grade at a school to comprise an economically feasible class, the Elementary Level Associates shall work with principals and parents to accommodate transfers of these students to a school where in aggregate they comprise an economically feasible class. Parents must provide their own transportation for these transfers. All placements shall be on a “first in time” basis. All requests must be in writing, and requests presented in person shall be given priority over requests presented by e-mail or mail.

Once the traditional track is elected, the child must remain in that track while at that elementary school except for good cause shown. Conversely, one the traditional track is elected, parents do not have to “re-elect” each subsequent year. Elementary Level Associates shall make all decisions on withdrawing from the traditional track.

NEW The Pros and Cons

The first problem is the vaguely defined “economically feasible” level. Sure, it’ll vary school to school but what is it – average class size, 90% of the average class size, 150% of the average class size? That definition depends on the school Principal and potentially pits angry parents against a school Principal who defined what is “economically feasible” at such a level that their children won’t get the education those parents believe they deserve. And, while I hate to say it, I believe there are some Principal’s in this county who will do just that.

The second problem is the reliance on transfers. If your local school doesn’t have an “economically feasible” level of interest in a particular program they you have to choose – transfer your child to another school or keep them in what you believe is a substandard program. Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily get your first choice of transfer schools and might end up at a school many miles away. And school with “economically feasible” levels of interest may be compelled to accept transfer students even if they’re already severely overcrowded.

The third problem is timing. The Superintendent isn’t expected to report how many school will be participating until May 31. By then materials for next year will have already been purchased and and the money to purchase materials for a traditional program won’t be available. That also only leaves parents 3 weeks to scramble to find a school with what they consider an appropriate program and sufficient capacity to accept their children. That will also leave with alternate programs scrambling to find slots for transfer students.

The fourth is trust. The Superintendent, Area Superintendents, and Principals will determine what is and is not economically feasible. I’m not sure I trust them to do so without bias, without skewing the results to support their views. It pains me to say that, but I have very little faith on the senior leadership in our school system.

The Other Proposals
One other proposal has been submitted to the board – its the Blended Approach. Several parents associated with this blog developed a proposal of our own we call the Three Choice Option. We’ve also developed some rough estimates of the cost of each different proposal for anyone interested. Take the time to read each and review the costing data. Then contact the board and let them know how you feel.

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