Madera Sixth Grade (update)

Hi all–

At last month’s School Board meeting, I presented our petition (below, for reference) with more than 225 signatures from Madera parents,  to the School Board, Dr. Harter, and staff. I followed up with an email the following day. Last night Dr. Harter called me with a response to our requests.

He explained that with so many balls up in the air for next year- the Portola relocation, bond issue, budget cuts, and other issues, incorporating a sixth grade at Madera would not be possible for next year, 2010-2011.

BUT he said that for the following year, 2011-2012, there will be some redistricting required as a result of planned school closures and as part of that process, he feels that he will recommend that Madera DOES add a sixth grade as of that year. He added that it’s a board decision, but that he would recommend that a sixth grade be added at Madera, for many of the reasons that we outlined below, particularly equity: Madera as the only K-5 school in our area doesn’t make sense.

He mentioned the use of portables, which I advocated as a part-time solution, and though he acknowledged that they were proposed as only a short-term solution, there are cost factors that may be challenging for their use. We didn’t talk about current transfer students, and whether he would propose revoking transfers to make room for two sixth grade classes on campus, which I’m adamantly opposed to. I think that if I had asked, he would have said it’s too early to tell because so much can happen regarding school enrollments in a year, which is true.

Meanwhile, he suggested that Mira Vista and Portola will offer sixth grade options for this year’s fifth graders. I’ll send a separate message about that subject.

Next steps: I am very encouraged by Dr. Harter’s response. Our conversation indicated that he actually read and thought about the proposal and wasn’t simply giving a perfunctory reply. I have written Dr. Harter back to thank him for his consideration and to say that I’ll look forward to seeing Madera become a K-6 school. I would encourage Madera parents to continue to contact board members and administrators with their concerns and opinions- they do make a difference! Next fall will be the appropriate time to press home on this issue, to see that it does come to fruition, and that transfers are not left out of the solution. I look forward to being part of that lobbying effort next year!

David Miller