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Do education officials think we’re stupid?

July 12, 2013
The Inter-Mountain

All school children learn at an early age that when you do something bad, it's best to admit what you've done and take responsibility. The worst thing you can do, kids are taught, is to blame someone else.

Maybe some school officials still need to learn that lesson.

On Monday, the Barbour County Board of Education voted - after more than two hours of discussion - to move all the county's fifth-grade classes from elementary schools to middle schools for the 2014-2015 year.

Barbour County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Super said several times Monday the idea for the drastic change was born after the board received requests for more room by the elementary schools' Local School Improvement Councils.

"The LSICs all requested more space in the schools when we visited the schools last fall and winter," Super said. "This is a proposal based on their request for more space in the schools."

The Local School Improvement Councils are made up of parents, teachers, service personnel and business partners. No LSIC members spoke about the proposal at Monday's meeting.

Despite any requests the LSICs might have made for more room, information presented at Monday's meeting by a school board official showed the elementary schools are far from crowded with students at the present time.

Glenn Sweet, director/manager of attendance, facilities and technology, said the space at Volga-Century Elementary is currently at 31 percent utilization, and will drop to 24 percent after the fifth-graders are removed from the school. Mt. Vernon Elementary will drop from its current 36 percent utilization level to 28 percent after the move.

The most "crowded" elementary school in Barbour County, Philippi Elementary, is currently at 67 percent utilization. After the move, it will drop to 58 percent - or just over half - utilization.

Asked by a board member what the state would think of the drops in utilization, Sweet replied, "In general, the state would say we are not utilizing our dollar value."

Doward Matlick and Joanne McConnell, the only two BOE members to vote against moving the fifth-graders, asked how the move would save money. Finance Director Annette Hughart said the move would be "a wash" and would result in no savings to the school system.

Also during the discussion, Transportation Director Marjorie George said bus times for students after the move could range up to a high of 68 minutes. She said the state's recommended bus time for a middle school student is less than 45 minutes.

So let's take a look at this decision: moving the fifth-graders will further empty already under-utilized schools, save the school system zero dollars, and will run counter to several state regulations.

And we're asked to believe this major upheaval is being undertaken simply to make the LSICs happy?

Please. How dumb do they think we are?

Hey, LSIC?members, if the BOE really likes you that much, now's the time to ask for a swimming pool?and new gymnasium for your schools.

Isn't this the same board that effectively did away with middle school sports earlier this year, before several parents' groups raised and donated enough money to rehire the coaches? Was the Barbour board concerned with what the LSICs thought about that decision?

Could it be possible the Barbour board actually wants to empty out the smaller elementary schools to make it easier to close them a year or two down the road?

After all, Super and board members have said the failure of last year's proposed excess levy and bond call meant "tough decisions" would have to be made, possibly including the closure of the Mount Vernon and Century-Volga schools.

But hey, decisions aren't so tough if you just blame them on someone else.

Let's hope our kids don't learn from this example.



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