Wednesday, July 2, 2008

June Emails

I had some interesting emails in June. Three of them are below. As always, I will answer the best I can.

From R:

Mr Fraasch,

I am one of the people in Mt Lebanon that has lived most of my life here. You knocked on my door when running for office and I gave you my vote last fall. I read your reasoning behind your vote on the budget on one of your earlier posts and agree with you. After seeing the schedule for the high school project I became worried that after all this time planning the project that the Board is rushing to a decision. Is the Board really going to have all the information it needs to hold a vote in September? I have tried to keep up to date on the progress of the project but have seen nothing until now and when I see the update I see a vote in three months. How is the community going to give the input that was promised to them in that short amount of time?

Thank you and keep up the good work.

Mr. H,

Thanks for the email. Obviously, the high school project is on a lot of peoples minds lately. The update I posted on my blog was from an administrative session last Monday. That Tuesday there was a meeting of the Design Advisory Committee that is made up of people from the community that have been involved since the Dejong study was started. I'd like to see how the meetings go in July so I can get a better idea of where we are. I do have some concern that too many people will be on vacation in late July when we have the next meetings but again, lets see what happens. The Board has not seen any drawings at all of any kind of solution, only concepts. I'll let you and everyone else know when I hear something new.

From P:

Mr. Fraasch,

I read your posting about the 'Coaches' article in the Tribune-Review. I am a graduate of Mt Lebanon High School and went through the math curriculum that is being replaced now. It did me well but I had no idea that this many years later they would be teaching from the same books that I was taught from. I was concerned that you voted against the budget because you were against the sort of curriculum upgrades that are sorely needed. Your post set me straight.

I do have a criticism. I would like to see you be more vocal at the meetings about your ideas. I read your blog posts and don't always see your ideas talked about when watching the meetings on the television.

Ms. P,

As I said in my post about the 'Coaches' article, we need to give our teachers the tools they need to succeed. This will lead to better outcomes for all our students.

To your second point, this whole time I have been thinking people wanted to hear LESS of me. Seriously though, all of my ideas have been expressed to at least one Board member or another at some point. If during those conversations I think the idea has any merit, I would typically talk about it at a public meeting or talk to more Board members about it. Other times, its just not appropriate to bring things up in a normal discussion/voting meeting. The Audit/Finance Committee post I had earlier is the perfect example of that. All of the ideas I had in that post were addressed at the Audit/Finance committee meeting. Those ideas needed some more fleshing out before making it to a regular discussion meeting. That meeting is not televised which is one of the reasons I posted the ideas on this blog.

From A:

I am aware that there was a survey for full day kindergarten in past years, which I participated in. I was told the vote was 50/50. Do your foresee implementing full day Kindergarten by the 09/10 school year?

The way it is now the half day program is so structured there is not enough time for the Kindergartners to take a field trip, Mt. Lebanon is one of the only School Districts who do not have a full day class or option.

For some children a half day program would be taking a step backwards. This leaves three options for us. Either send our child to a private school, move, or send our child to half day Kindergarten with enrichment from an outside source.

Please give me a timeline when this will be discussed again. A message that I received from Joe Rodella two years ago stated that full day Kindergarten will not be implemented unless the State mandates it. I hope that this issue will be revisited before this.

I feel if you redo the survey attitudes may change.

This is a really good email. It touches on many things that do not have anything to do with kindergarten. Budgets, mandates, attitudes, etc. There are many studies coming out now that are saying how important early childhood and kindergarten education are. There is definitely not a consensus at this point about which direction kindergarten should take in Mt Lebanon. Many parents love the half-day set up and many find it frustrating. There are opportunities for parents to have their kindergarten-age children in school all day if they enroll them in the Mt Lebanon Extended Day program. While this does cost money, it does not typically cost as much as putting a child in a full-time day care. It also gives the child the ability to make friends in Mt Lebanon. For families where the parents work full-time, this program allows for your child to be in school from as early as 7am to as late as 6pm at certain schools. This is important because many districts in Allegheny County do have full-day kindergarten and for many working parents this is an issue.

I believe that this emailer is correct, full-day kindergarten in Mt Lebanon will probably not happen until it is mandated by the State. However, movement at the State level may be happening faster than most people think. Check out this link that summarizes the State research on half-day vs full-day kindergarten. It certainly looks to be headed in that direction.

Thanks to everyone for the emails. I hope you are enjoying your summer.