OUR VOICES

Speech by Michelle Miller at School Board Meeting November 9, 2010

My Name is Michelle Miller. I am a resident of St. Petersburg and have two girls that attend Lakeview Fundamental. You have moved the following A schools out of Saint Petersburg: Rio Vista Elementary, Clearview Avenue and South Side Fundamental. All of these schools were smaller schools, rooted in the community with strong leadership including principles that were in place for many years. You are now proposing to dismantle a 4th A rated school from Saint Pete. Why Saint Pete?

Based on 2010 FCAT scores smaller elementary fundamentals outperformed larger ones.

I am a parent referring to your definition of the decentralized decision making process. We are supposed to be the first stakeholder in the board's definition of this process. However, you have heard us meeting after meeting. We are opposed to this move; we have not asked for it, Gulfport has not asked for it. The Mayor's office of St Pete does not want it; the Mayor's office of Gulfport refused to sign an endorsement for it... Why is there an overwhelming lack of support for this proposal, why is there so little information regarding it? What is the cost, what are the ramifications if it is not successful? What are the action steps if the Gulfport families do not want this type of rigorous format? It;s certainly not a format for everyone. Have you toured both schools, observed the classrooms to see what's working, what isn't working?

Engage in conversation with families, students, teachers... Make a decision based on research not past decisions. Every community and school is different; every substructure within a school is different.

Dr Jansen, look for processes to raise the education level of all our home schools. Our children deserve it. Focus on helping struggling schools, Help families help their children succeed. Develop out-reach and mentoring programs, task forces within the schools to assist those that need assistance. Raise public awareness. Seek principles that can relate to families that are struggling. Reach out to your communities for their ideas and support rather than dismissing them. The culture of a school stars at the top and trickles down. Work on this aspect of our school system. Don't move children in a cohesive unit into an environment that is struggling and hope they will rub off. Or worse, the struggling students will move on. All of these children are the future of our society. They deserve the best we can give them.

Again, the Board defines decentralizing decision making as a process of empowering parents, teachers, school principles and community members...you wrote this... ask yourself if this is what's happening. Is this plan really thoughtful and detailed? We cannot locate any information that spells it out. I requested records pertaining to the proposal that you may have reviewed that we have not had access to and I was told there weren't any.

Frankly, there is not enough information to cast a vote that affects so many. This appears to be desperate plan with little if any structure. Our community deserves more than that when it comes to our children. Please vote no on this issue.
Email from Michelle Miller November 8, 2010

No child is left behind, but they're left in a different environment

• Today St Petersburg Mayor Foster met with Dr. Jansen and asked her to reconsider her proposal regarding Lakeview/Gulfport Elementary.
• This weekend in the Gabber (Gulfport's Local Magazine). There was an article about the Proposal. Lisa Grant and two representatives spoke to city council and proposed the changes . Jennifer Salmon asked council to sign a letter endorsing their support for the changes. The council refused.
• Gulfport Councilman Sam Henderson (whose child attends a fundamental) said there were things he found fundamentally flawed.
• Gulfport Councilman Hastings would not sign saying he didn't know if a lot of things in the letter had proven facts.
• Gulfport Mayor Mike Yakes said "No child left behind , but their left in a different environment."

Both communities affected by this are saying the proposal is not in the best interest of the children in their communities, there are flaws.

The local government does not think it's a good idea, the parents/families do not think it's a good idea, the communities don't think it's a good idea...

Is anyone out there hearing this and questioning WHY so many do not think it is in the best interest of the children?? Why is Dr. Jansen dismissing so many opinions that are not consistent with her own?
From Amy Eggimann and Renee Savic October 28, 2010

Click to View Document Given to Stakeholder Team

Dear Lakeview Families,

Yesterday, October 28th, we attended the "Stakeholders Team Meeting" (the name has been changed from "Proposed Transition Team"). Unfortunately, we were unable to get most questions answered but here is what we can tell you.

1) The administrators at the meeting were
a. Bill Lawrence - Director, Advanced Studies & Academic Excellence
b. Cathy Fleeger - Associate Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer
2) Gulfport Attendees
a. Principle, 1 Support Staff Montessori, 1 Support Staff Traditional, 1 Teacher Montessori, 1 Teacher Traditional, 1 Parent Montessori, 1 Parent Traditional
3) At workshop yesterday (9am at the Admin Bldg) the following was in the most up to date proposal. (NOTE: Our comments are highlighted)
a. All current Lakeview Students are "in".
b. Current Gulfport students must apply to the program and agree to the fundamental agreement to be guaranteed a seat in the new facility.
i. We asked for clarification because we felt the wording was misleading and this is what the above means:
1. All Gulfport families who wish to attend the "New Fundamental" School will have to apply online like everyone else in January
2. After all applications are received, BUT before the seats are filled via the lottery, any Gulfport Student who applied for a seat will be accepted.
3. During the acceptance period they WILL have to accept the seat or they WILL loose it.
c. Gulfport students not wanting to stay will be place in a school determined to be their new zone
d. Current Lakeview wait list students must re-apply as per current Board Policy
e. Priorities for siblings, professional courtesy and proximity (new).
i. The addition of priority to proximity will apply to all fundamental and magnet schools county-wide.
f. Instructional and support staff members from both schools will interview with the principal
4) We received a document which contained 5 pages of questions that the Lakeview and Gulfport Teachers/Staff asked at their meeting last week.
a. There were approximately 100 questions and less than 10% had answers.
b. The following are the "Response/Answers" (Note: We have requested a soft copy and will make it available to everyone once we receive it.)
i. The School Board must vote twice on all Policy changes (1st and 2nd reading). The first reading is scheduled for 11/9 and the second reading is scheduled for 12/7. It should be noted that there will be two new School Board members installed between these two School Board Meetings. Should the Board approve a move, the schools would open in the fall 2011 at the new sites.
ii. Once the Board has made a final decision, the Human Resources Department (HR) and the collective bargaining groups (PCTA/PESPA) would meet to design and negotiate the process and timeline for staff decisions. The process would likely build upon the sound process that was negotiated 2 years ago with the fundamental middle school consolidation, improve upon it based on lessons learned and consider the unique aspects of the Lakeview-Gulfport situation. Once the process is negotiated, HR and the bargaining groups will clearly communicate the process and timelines, including meeting directly with staff at Lakeview.
iii. The current proposal calls for all current Lakeview students to be moved to the fundamental school in the Gulfport facility. Gulfport families will have the opportunity to "opt in" by making application during the normal countywide application period and agreeing to all fundamental guidelines and signing the parent/guardian agreement. As all current countywide elementary wait lists expire at the end of each school year, students on the 10-11 Lakeview wait list will need to reapply as they would have had to do at Lakeview.
iv. The current Policies for countywide programs detailed in the Procedure for Countywide Programs Handbook will apply. Many of the changes proposed will be codified in the Policy the Board must approve, however the general application process, timeline, transportation practices will be the same (i.e. parents provide transportation to fundamental and magnets receive arterial transportation, same online application process with any new preference for proximity applied). As with the fundamental middle school consolidation, significant outreach will be provided to prospective fundamental parents and training will be provide to any teachers new to fundamental. An overview of the fundamental elementary program and FAQ's has been provided to the Gulfport administration and will be provided to the stakeholder team.
v. One of the key drivers of this proposal is to enhance the fidelity of the Montessori program by offering a whole school model which indicates the district is committed to the program.
vi. School grades, AYP, SINI, or DA status were not identified drivers in the proposal. Details regarding the MSID number to be used will be subject to state rules and cannot be determined at this time. This impacts the DA history of the new school.
vii. The primary determination for Title I status is the percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch, however, there are provisions in the federal statutes and much may depend on the MSID number as above.
viii. A process similar to the consolidation of the fundamental middle schools two years ago would be followed, with process improvements based on input from those schools.
ix. There is an established process for naming schools that was used during the middle school consolidation and that would be utilized again.
5) Some Questions and Answers we were able to get:
a. Can LVF students have "1st right of refusal" into the Montessori Program?
i. According to the Montessori Teacher and Parent they only except incoming kindergarteners. Other grades it is a case-by-case basis but they usually require that the student have had some Montessori education previously to be accepted.
ii. According to Mr. Lawrence the above is NOT policy and that they will have to accept students via the lottery to fill seats.
iii. A back and forth debate ensued...
b. LVF WANTs a parent meeting.
i. Mr. Lawrence was very hesitate has he does not feel he has the answers to most questions.
ii. We (Renee and Amy) said that this is needed. Parents only being allowed to speak 2 to 3 minutes to a non-responsive, eye-rolling group was not acceptable. Our parents need to be heard.
iii. Mr. Lawrence has said he will give the LVF parents a meeting and he and Mrs. Garcia will be setting that up.
c. What happens to the LVF resources (i.e. Library Books)?
i. After walking into their library, to see very little books, we questioned what would happened our current library. Considering a lot of LVF's resources have been donated and/or purchased by our generous LVF families. To lose 25 years of donations was very concerned. Ms. Fleeger "believes" is will go with us but was not positive.
d. All the questions and concerns we voiced today and the ones the teachers voiced last week. Who sees them? Do they go to the school board?
i. Mr. Lawrence said that he compiles all the information and gives it to Dr. Jansen. It is up to her whether she gives it to the school board.
ii. With that being said we plan on sending soft copies of all questions that come out of the Stakeholders Meetings to the Board.
6) There was one very angry Traditional Staff Member at the meeting. She was very upset about the protest going on outside.
a. We attempted to convey that the protest was not against Gulfport, it's Staff, or it's Students. We were cut off by Mr. Lawrence and the meeting proceeded.
7) Mr. Lawrence did say that if you want the proposal stopped and/or modified you need to take your concerns to the board. They are the ones who have the final say.

After 2-1/2 hours that is what we have to report. Another Stakeholder Meeting will be held 11/10/10 at Lakeview. Again it will be a closed meeting. We, Renee and Amy, respectfully request you do not shoot the messenger. We are taking all questions and concerns to this group and will communicate everything that occurs in these meetings. Although, these are closed meetings we feel every family at LVF has the right to know what is going on in them and we will do are best to communicate everything to you!

Thank You,
Amy Eggimann and Renee Savic
(Proud LVF parents!)
Email from Brigitte Kay October 23, 2010

Lakeview Fundamental is a wonderful elementary school w/staff that actually care about the children and their education. I work w/many schools and Lakeview is by far one of the best schools that we have in Pinellas County. Please don't take one of the few good schools that we have away.
Email sent to Distribution List October 23, 2010

Dear Lakeview Parents,

Please send an email to the Pinellas County School Board regarding the Lakeview move. Here are the email addresses for members of the board:

Superintendent's Office Super@pcsb.org; Madden James MADDENJ@pcsb.org; Lawrence William LAWRENCEW@pcsb.org; Brown Mary T BROWNMARYL@pcsb.org; Clark Janet CLARKJA@pcsb.org; Cook Carol COOKC@pcsb.org; Hayden Nina HAYDENN@pcsb.org; Lerner Linda LernerL@pcsb.org; O'Shea Peggy OSHEAP@pcsb.org; Wikle Robin WIKLER@pcsb.org

In addition, here is a pre-written statement drafted by a group of Lakeview parents that you may sign and use it if you wish!

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Dear Pinellas School Board Members,

I am a parent of a Lakeview Fundamental Elementary School child.
I am against the proposed move of Lakeview Fundamental for all the reason stated below.

• Lakeview Fundamental has been an A+ rated school for 9 years. Lakeview should serve as a model for other schools. Replicate, don't dismantle! http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org/
• The lottery system has successfully created an economically and racially diverse student body comprised of VERY dedicated students/parents. The proposal to 'grandfather' in traditional students will not only compromise the integrity of the Fundamental program, but will also create significant stress for traditional families that are unable to adhere to Fundamental guidelines and require placement in a different program.
• Bypassing the lottery system is unfair to those students who are currently on wait lists and conflicts with the county's own procedural rules: http://www.pinellas.k12.fl.us/Fundamental/home.html
• Students/families from both schools may suffer academically or otherwise, due to such drastic changes.
• Lakeview's small campus and student body is a significant factor in the success of this vibrant program.
• An unprecedented situation, all previous moves of fundamental schools into traditional schools have been into high-rated schools. No model exists for moving an A-rated fundamental into a D-rated school

Thank you for your consideration,
Email from concerned parent Oct.21, 2010

Hi Renee and Stephanie,

I'm mom to Sierra Laico, grade 4, Mrs. Carter.

Sierra attended Gulport Montessori for Kindergarten and grade 1 ... she was placed there even though we live on 33rd Avenue North in St. Pete (just south of Tyrone Blvd -- seven miles away). We had Sierra on a waiting list for fundamental from out of preschool, and two days before school started for Sierra's grade 2, she received the seat at Lakeview. We were THRILLED.

However, while Sierra was at Gulfport for two years, I was an extremely involved parent. For two years running, myself, and one other parent consisted of the entire PTA. Other parents claimed titles, but very rarely attended meetings and were unable to keep their commitment to the school.

The only time that we had a good attendance for a PTA meeting was once or twice a year when we had the budget to "feed" the families. Our average for families showing up for a PTA meeting for the actual agenda and waters was approximately 15 to 20 families ... compared to the "dinner provided" meeting month of 300+ families with a slice of pizza (each). And, it got ugly, nasty. Parents fought in line, came back to eat and grab more, and there wasn't enough of "US" PTA-dedicated parents to help out and keep things civil.

As pointed out in earlier e-mails and what I've seen on the news, bigger is not better -- more fundamental seats in a "mid" county location is most logical. It's the dedication on the parental part that makes Lakeview what it is. I doubt that in the past few years Gulfport has improved that tremendously in regard to parental support. Lisa Grant is an amazing principal, she gives 150%,I respect her so highly, but what I've seen is that due to numerous factors, there lacks family involvement required for many of these children who could be fundamental students. They can be invited into the curriculum, but will their parents/guardians have the ability to be supportive?

I don't want to come off as negative, but I've been there with my daughter and I'm concerned about this change.

Thanks for hearing me out,
Staci Laico
Letter from Lakeview Parents Steven Verano and Kristie Dowling:

To the Superintendent and all School Board Members,

Now that Dr. Jansen has retooled her proposal to move the Palm Harbor IB program, I am wondering when she will be retooling her proposal to move Lakeview Fundamental. All the reasons that the decision was made not to move Palm Harbor IB exist in relation to the Lakeview Fundamental move.

I assume you realized that moving students is disruptive and not conducive to the best education of those students. I assume that you realized that the Palm Harbor IB program is performing excellently and should be left where it is. I assume you realized that the students and parents were against the move. And I assume you realized that you have other better options.

All this can be said to a bigger degree for the Lakeview move. Moving younger children is even more disruptive and not conducive to their education, as younger children thrive on consistency. Lakeview Fundamental is one of the best (if not the best) elementary schools in the county, in large parts due to its small size, and its success can not be duplicated in a school twice its size. Lakeview should be a model for other schools to emulate, not a program that should be destroyed. The parents are almost unanimously in opposition to this plan, and you will start hearing from them more and more in the coming weeks. And there are absolutely better options to increasing the number of fundamental seats, such as converting a school in mid county to the fundamental program, as there is an obvious void of fundamentals schools mid county.

Please let me know why you are altering the IB plan and have not yet altered the fundamental plan.

Thank you,

Steven Verano and Kristie Dowling
October 20th - Email Correspondence from a LVF Parent

Several people including myself were concerned that the PTA did not want to be involved. After researching more about the PTA I found that they are held to a contract and that all their activitities have to be approved by the principal and their hands are really tied by the contract they have to sign.

PBCS Policy link on this page:
http://www.pccpta.org/Resources/PTA%20Resources.html

PTA bilaw form is here http://www.pccpta.org/Resources/Bylaws/bylaws.htm

As I understand there is also a meeting according to the School board website on Tuesday the 26th in Largo at 5pm that we should all attend. Also as a USF faculty member I happen to know that all government and state meetings including our campus meetings are open to the public because of the Sunshine law. They can not arrest us for attending unless we are disorderly!

Kathy
Results from October 17, 2010 Lakeview parent meeting:

Reasons we are against the move:
1. Moving children from one school to another is severely disruptive.
2. Smaller schools are often more successful.
3. Tradition is important to a community and many parents are alumni of Lakeview.
4. Lakeview should be made a model, not dismantled.
5. The logic of dismantling a school-within-a school system is irrelevant considering there are many other school-within-schools in the county.
6. New teachers will be unfamiliar with the fundamental protocol and demands
7. Opening up seats to students who are not prepared to meet the demands of fundamental endangers the school
8. Gulfport students who attend a neighborhood school will now be forced to be bussed to school costing the district a lot of money. Currently, over 80% of Gulfport students walk to school.
9. This has not been planned, developed and studied in any way and seems very much like an experiment
10. The models presented by the other schools that transitioned to fundamental were inadequate models considering that none of them was a school in trouble as Gulfport is.

Alternative Options to the Move
1. Add additional Fundamental seats by opening up a fundamental school mid-county.
2. Leave Lakeview as is, and transform Gulfport into a Fundamental school and give Montessori its own school in one of the other struggling schools. This would open up 600 more seats instead of just 300. In addition, Gulfport could be turned into a "fundamental-heavy school", meaning that the fundamental program would be in place but students would be given much more support by outside volunteers in order to fulfill fundamental responsibilities.B 3. If Montessori program is so successful, and they have a waiting list, then why not convert the entire school into a Montessori? Then, the school board can convert another struggling school into Fundamental.
Dear Lakeview Families,

This is your chance to have your voice heard. Whether you agree with saving Lakeview or you have a different opinion we want to hear from you. Our country was founded by a group of individuals who believed in the rights of individuals to speak out for their cause. If you wish to have your voice heard please send an email to SaveUs@lakeview-fundamental.com with "Our Voices" in the subject line. All opinions will be posted as long as they are G-Rated as we are a family friendly website!