In a letter to the school board, a number of concerned parents questioned and/or urged school board members to reconsider the reduction in staff at Richards Elementary School.
Dear Dr. Thomsen, Mr. Yde, Ms. Kearney, Mr. Armstrong, Dr. Bencik-Boudreau, Ms. Yunker, Ms. Woodard, Ms. Saltzstein, and Mr. Christiansen:
I’m writing on behalf of a group of parents and community members who are interested in keeping class sizes small at Richards and maintaining the quality of Whitefish Bay’s foundational education to our youngest students at the K4-5th level.
We come to you wanting to collaborate and work creatively to come up with a solution that accomplishes the District and School Boards’ needs to address enrollment, and work within the budget while still maintaining the small class sizes, quality teachers, and quality families & students that are integral to the reputation Whitefish Bay has developed and maintained for so many years. We live in Whitefish Bay because of the quality of its schools! We are very concerned that a loss of 3 teaching positions at Richards will have a negative, long-term impact not just on our children, their families and our schools but also our community as a whole.
We have compiled a list of questions that we would like answered by the District and/or the School Board for the sake of having a better understanding of the District and Boards’ position and to hopefully enable an ongoing discussion of how we can come up with alternatives to the elimination of these positions. We would appreciate responses to these questions as soon as possible as we understand final decisions will be made by May 10th.
- What is the current projected 2017-2018 enrollment, by grade based on most current data? E.g. where are we seeing the distribution of non-returning students by grade?
- What is the current K4 enrollment data (if not included in the above response)?
- Based upon the most current registration/enrollment data (“current data,”) what grades will see teacher elimination?
- Based upon current data, are losses of sections the only option to absorb the loss of these teaching positions?
- If not, what alternatives are being considered? Have multi-age classrooms, redistricting, or a temporary pause on non-essential electives been considered?
- Could the increase in teachers to the other schools be temporarily postponed instead of the loss of the teachers at Richards?
- What type of enrollment numbers would be required to reinstate these positions? E.g. if there were 25 new registrants before May 10th, would that be enough, or what numbers do we need?
- What is the number of students per section the District/School Board is comfortable allowing, per grade?
- What information is being used to make determinations on optimal class sizes per grade?
- Are you willing to collaborate with parents to get creative on how to not eliminate these positions and meet budget challenges?
- Does the District intend to communicate with the impacted families the approximate class sizes they will be facing in the fall? If so, when? How often will it be updated? How will this be communicated?
- If the District does not intend to communicate prospective class size increases in advance of the school year, they will likely be faced with additional families leaving the District; has the District/Board considered the long term effects of the loss of these families to the District?
- Has the District/Board taken into consideration that enrollment and class sizes fluctuate significantly year by year and a one-year “fix” may result in much longer term impacts- loss of families, quality teachers, reputation, etc?
- What is the District/Board doing to better anticipate these changes in enrollment?
- Are the cause(s) for the declining enrollment at Richards being tracked and if so, what are they?
We thank you in advance for your prompt response and again restate how much we all appreciate your work on behalf of our students and community.
Signatures of 35 Richards parents – Names withheld by AFE