Handful of parents protest schedule change at Fremont
About a dozen parents, most opposed to the schedule change at Fremont Elementary School, voiced their concerns during a meeting Monday evening at the school.
“This is a phenomenal school and a phenomenal staff. Any of these things that you’re saying are positive (about changing the schedule) are negated by the benefits you’re losing,” said parent Deeana Konze. “If you were going to switch, you should have switched the other schools to year-round because it’s better for the kids.”
School district officials announced to the staff last week that the school, which has been on a year-round schedule since it opened in the mid-1970s, would switch to a traditional schedule the year after next to create uniformity with all other schools in the district.
“There are a number of changes that are happening in education,” Superintendent Richard Stokes said last week. “Some of those changes are going to require of us as a district to extend opportunities for training for our teachers. Sometimes, the teachers at Fremont are being left out of the loop.”
Mother Jenni McKee faulted the district’s communication on the issue.
“Why weren’t teachers and parents more involved?” she asked. “Why is it, all of a sudden, ‘This is our final decision’?”
Stokes referred to community meetings held in 2009 that dozens of parents and teachers attended, most in opposition of switching to a traditional calendar.
“We listened carefully,” Stokes said. “We took, and have been taking in, a lot of information since that time.”
Parents said their children performed better under the year-round calendar, with longer breaks throughout the year and a shorter summer break. Parents said the traditional long summer vacation caused kids to forget what they’d learned the previous year.
“My daughter’s therapist recommended this school,” said mother Rebecca McGee. “We moved into the district for this school, for this schedule.”
She said she would have expected the school district to work harder to involve parents in the decision.
“It was disappointing,” she said. “We heard it from the news as opposed to from the school first.”
McKee said more parents would have attended if they had known about the upcoming change.
“A lot of people weren’t even aware of this,” she said. “It happened so fast. There’s a lot of disappointment and shock out there that needs to be addressed.”
Stokes invited them to attend tonight’s school board meeting at 7:30 at the Carson City Community Center, where the issue will also be discussed.
Parent Caroline Croley asked that teachers also work with students to explain to them what is happening.
“My girls were in tears because they did not understand what was going on,” she said. “The kids are confused.”
Not all parents were opposed, however.
“Every child is different,” mother Marisa Jimenez said in Spanish. “It’s more dependent on the ability of the child and how hard he is willing to try.”
She said summers off will give her children more time for sports and other activities.
As parents, district officials and principal Casey Gilles discussed all the pros and cons, some came to a consensus.
While McKee said she still did not agree with officials, she appreciated their efforts.
“I’m not supporting it,” she said, “but I want to give kudos and credit to your for listening to us.”
Stokes responded in kind.
“Thank you for your understanding,” he said. “This has not been an easy decision.”
If you go
WHAT: Carson City School Board meeting
WHEN: 7:30 tonight
WHERE: Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.