As an involved parent of two young children as well as a pediatric speech-language pathologist (SLP), how we educate our children has always been a passion of mine. This is why I have been playing close attention to the referendum debates in our town and have decided to vote yes on Dec. 10.
Space in our elementary schools is already becoming an issue with many classrooms at capacity and some students being pushed out of their neighborhood schools. Considering population trends, potential growth and how differently space is utilized in education now versus in years past, our district will have to raise the cap on our classroom sizes if they don’t create space. Larger class sizes would have a detrimental impact on the quality of education for our kids.
As an SLP, I worked in a Virginia public school district with space issues. I literally had to provide services in a closet. Other special educators had to share space. These conditions were wholly inadequate learning environments for our children. I’m nervous that continued space issues in our district would disproportionately affect our special education students. Growth of students who require special education services is up from 12.4 percent to 19.4 percent. This is significant because with special education more space is needed for less students.
Fixing this space problem does require big changes that make a lot of people uncomfortable, even me! My daughter would likely be one of the first classes of third graders to move to the Upper Elementary School, and I would much rather have her at Baker for fours years instead of three. But understanding the conditions surrounding the structures we are working with as well as the research our district has done, their proposal seems like a good solution. I can deal with my personal discomfort knowing these changes will benefit our students and keep the quality of education high. I’m afraid the alternative would do just the opposite.