One School Board Member Responds

Jim Leigh responds to my concerns, or does he?

Dear Ms. Manis,

Thank you for sharing your concerns. We’ll do our best for those students who can’t easily adjust. My four children graduated from Shoreline School District and three of them were in split classes at one time or another. They adjusted nicely and learn more from it. I also make it the point that none of them have the same teacher from year to year. In fact, only one of them had the same teacher twice. As for split classes and realignment, these types of adjustments happen during September in every school district, every year.

Regards,
Jim Leigh

And I responded:

Dear Mr. Leigh,

I mean no disrespect, but did you even read my letter? I’m glad your children have turned out well. Mine will, too, but that is not the issue before us. The issue before us is the overloading of the classrooms in the Shoreline School District and how it is to the detriment of the entire student population. How does it benefit my child, and the other 27 children in her class, to have extra help for 1 or maybe 2 hours of the day? The spirit of the contract was that all the classes (all the balanced classes) would receive the additional help and the board has twisted the intent of the contract to reduce their spending on the extra help by 2/3.

What is the role of the School Board? Are you there to balance the budget, or are you there to provide a quality education to every child (not just 2/3 of them!) in the city of Shoreline? Because with your recent moves, you are not doing both of these things. You are merely balancing the budget. The community has elected you to your positions to help us further the education of our children, not to be bean counters.

I’m not suggesting that we spend all we like and have no thought for budgets, but our budget deficit was not created in one year and it is going to take time to fix the problem. Money that has been previously budgeted to cover the costs of staffing the overloaded classes should not now be used to further reduce the deficit.
Can anyone tell me what the 5 year plan looks like for this?

You said in your response that this moving of children happens in every school district, every year. I quite disagree. This has not been a standard practice in the Shoreline School District, nor is it the standard in any district. I understand that the Yakima School District is trying your same methods of structuring classrooms (overloading 1/3 of them) and they, too, are talking about striking. If this is the standard, then why are so many people so upset by it? Is is not a standard practice.

And further, I think the letters that the board is sending out to the parents are insulting. They paint the teachers as being greedy and uncomprehending, and they don’t give the parents any credit for having thoughts in their heads. We are not children and will not be fooled in this.

I will be gladly joining any picketing that goes on this Thursday and have been and will continue to take every opportunity to share my thoughts on these matters with my fellow parents.

Sincerely,

Michelle Manis

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