School board update

Dear all,

The board talked about the possibility of adding a sixth grade to Madera at last night’s board meeting. Many thanks to the Madera families who attended the meeting, and to those who spoke in support of the addition… and special thanks to fifth grader Lindsey Lam who approached the podium and spoke to the board about why she would like to continue at Madera through grade six!

Board members spoke about the issue, and although they expressed caution regarding the complexity and costs of such an addition, generally spoke in favor of adding grade six. They also seemed to agree that revoking transfers should NOT be an option. Board member Charles Ramsey, who has a child at Portola right now, said he supports the sixth grade, but would also like to address the issue of why parents leave the district, and what we can do to sustain the community, not just from K-6 and then 9-12, but all the way through including the middle school years. Tony Thurmond echoed his thoughts, and extended the issue not just to Portola but to other middle schools in the district. I invited all of the school board members and Dr. Harter to come to Madera for our Winter Sing Along on December 16th to get a sense of the community that makes Madera the special place that it is.

Overall it was a very encouraging meeting and I would say that prospects are very favorable for adding a sixth grade at Madera next year!

NEXT STEPS: Dr. Harter will be at Madera on Monday, November 29th, from 6:00 to 7:00 pm to get parent feedback about adding a sixth grade. It’s very important that we have a big turnout for this meeting to show support- not just from this year’s fifth grade parents, but from ALL grade levels. This will be an opportunity to share ideas, express concern or support, and to help provide information to guide the board’s decision.

The next board meeting is on Wednesday, December 8th (mark your calendars!) and I expect there will be an action item on that agenda about adding sixth grade. A good turnout for this meeting will be very important! I’ll post an update when the agenda is posted.

On another note, Madera’s Ms Schooley was given an award last night for 25 years of service to the district- yeah, Ms. Schooley!

Another district teacher, Betty Buginas, is also writing education updates for the El Cerrito Patch- check out the article and see photos – (In her article, Betty writes that a decision will be made in January- my understanding is that it might be made BY January– we’ll see how things develop).

Go Madera!

/david miller