Commentary: Marietta City Schools and Realignment

 

Over the Christmas break my phone has been ringing off the hook with story tips. Surprisingly, the most prevalent under-reported topic has not been the IEI Fire or the Kevin Rings corruption case. The largest numbers of calls I have received are complaints about Marietta City Schools. There is a general sense that Superintendent Will Hampton is operating under the radar on issues of importance to parents and teachers.

One caller specifically questioned the increase in his salary, which consequently exceeds the amount of a grant awarded to the district for library needs. That kind of math does make it appear that the district could well have afforded the library upgrades without the help of grant funding if they weren’t so overburdened by excessive administration salaries.

As students returned to school this week, there were concerns about cold classrooms and icy walks left unprepared and dangerous. Yet, some of the most vexing information to come to light has to do with a complete realignment of the elementary school system and the closing of a neighborhood school. Newly elected school board members are going to be asked to vote on these matters in their first meeting at 5:30 pm on January 22 at the Board Office.

Given the timeline there may be limited opportunity for the public to weigh in on these sweeping changes.

Realignment Option 1:  Close either Harmar or Putnam Elementary School. School Pre K and Kindergarten and first grade in one building, second and third grade in one building, fourth and fifth at one building.

Realignment Option 2:  Close either Harmar or Putnam Elementary School. School Pre K and Kindergarten in one building, first and second grade in one building and third and fourth in one building. Fifth graders would be moved to the middle school.

These changes are planned for the coming fall. One board member explains that the initiative did not come from the board, but from the superintendent. Hampton was giving a presentation regarding Kindergarten Readiness that turned into the proposal detailed above. That may explain the Marietta Times article about the proposal that went largely unnoticed as it was focused on Kindergarten Readiness and not the closing of more neighborhood schools.

The public has a right to know exactly what plans the school district has in mind for their children. Parents and teachers are very concerned about the unintentional consequences. Instead of the staggered school schedules the district has observed for years, all schools would begin at 8 am.

And, there is one more development that is provoking much concern. Multiple sources have told RCNN that the district plans to do away with the bus for students with developmental disabilities. These special needs students would be bussed right along with everyone else.

There is no better time to make your opinion known. In fact, it may be your only opportunity before drastic changes are made to the operations of the schools district – and these are the kinds of sweeping changes that impact everyone.

Board Meeting January 22, 5:30 pm at the Board Office (High School Campus)

Email Superintendent Will Hampton at whampton@mariettacsdoh.org

(Editor’s Note: If any readers would like to help by providing the emails of the school board members, that would be much appreciated.)

About River City News Network

RCNN Publisher and Editor Callie Lyons is an independent journalist and author living in the Mid Ohio Valley. Her first book, Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8, is available at Amazon.com and in hundreds of libraries all over the world. Known as a "warrior for public health", Lyons' environmental investigations have been featured in documentaries, including Good Neighbors - Bad Blood and Toxic Soup, on Swedish National Television and in numbers of television, radio and print media interviews. Her work has appeared on Nova's Whiz Kids and in Mother Jones magazine. More recently, a national audience has come to know her award-winning investigative work through the Environmental Working Group and interviews with leading publications like the Huffington Post and The Intercept. Lyons' work was featured in the 2017 documentary Parched:Toxic Waters by National Geographic. According to Dr. Arlene Blum of the Green Science Policy Institute at UC Berkeley, Lyons' book provided the inspiration for the Madrid Statement, which documents the scientific consensus regarding the persistence and potential for harm of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances like PFOA and lays out a roadmap to gather needed information and prevent further harm. In 2006, Lyons received the Associated Press of Ohio Award for Best Business Writer. In 2007, Ohio Citizen Action presented Lyons with the Uncovering the Truth Award for her environmental journalism. In 2015, the Marietta 9-12 Project awarded Lyons the Freedom Pin for her commitment to democracy and free press.
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