Hi Jackson Jaguars,
This morning as I was running, I reflected on the events of the past week. The more I reflected, I kept getting hung up on one question that I couldn’t quite answer. How could I communicate the leveling process to parents in a way that would make everyone happy? The answer was simple; it was so simple in fact that I felt a little dumb that I hadn’t come up with it earlier. The answer was that I couldn’t. No matter what I do or how I communicate it, the unfortunate reality is that two results come out of the leveling process. One, a teacher will lose their job at Jackson and will be moved to another school. Second, students will be affected.
What I can do however is work to communicate the process of leveling and answer as many questions as I can. I can do my best to reduce anxieties over the process. What I cannot do is eliminate the effects of the process, but one thing I will promise you is that I will be as transparent as possible in every process that has an impact on Jackson.
This post may be lengthy, but I would like to address two issues. One, what we can’t control and two, what we can. A quote was recently shared with me and it gave me some perspective. I feel that it speaks to this past week. “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” - Charles R. Swindoll
First, let’s take a moment to review the 10%.
Each year in the spring, the district makes enrollment predictions based on past enrollment, historical data and enrollment trends over the past few years. Once the schools receive these enrollment predictions, they begin to prepare for the upcoming year to ensure that staffing is in place based on the predicted enrollment. This has the possibility of creating a catch 22 situation. Many parents have recently asked “Why didn’t this happen earlier so that students aren’t disrupted?” To answer that question, you have to understand that our enrollment is always an unknown. We staff based on enrollment predictions. Each year there are students who enroll the week before and during the first week of school. There are students who move without notifying the school, and those who come off of waiting lists at private schools last minute and do not notify the school. If we waited until school started, then there is the possibility that we would have to add a class based on enrollment and again we would be asked the same question of “Why didn’t this happen earlier so that students aren’t disrupted?” as we move students from one class to a new one.
During the first 10 days of school, we take daily enrollment counts based on students in seats. Even if we know that a student will be starting AFTER Labor Day, we cannot count that student. We can only count students that are physically IN CLASS during our 10 day enrollment count. Based on the reported enrollment numbers, the district begins to look at overages and areas of need. Just like every organization that operates on a budget, the district must maximize its budget and resources to meet needs on a systemic level. In this case, Jackson’s enrollment is considerably lower than predicted. Based on enrollment numbers, Jackson lost an allocated EIP teacher position. There will some required adjustments to facilitate this loss, but those impacted can rest assured that Jackson teachers will ensure that students' needs come first. Once a transition plan has been fully solidified the classes will be officially notified.
Now, over the past few days I have received many comparisons to the private schools in the area and how they care about their students more than the public school system does. This is not a fair comparison, as we are not comparing apples to apples. The schools that we are comparing are on separate funding models. Private schools are tuition-based organizations that utilize an application process for their enrollment. They are able to control their class numbers easily. They fill their classes to their designated max numbers and waitlist any overage. Public schools do not have that luxury. We provide services to all students within our attendance zone who register. We are also funded on a state-wide model that sets our max and minimum classroom sizes, it is not a school based decision as at individual private schools. There is a funding model in place (and I won’t lie, it’s pretty complicated) in which we must work. Even within the model, we work to have the lowest class sizes possible while still leveraging our human capital and budget to meet the needs of individual schools as well as the district. Please do not take this as a slight on the area private schools; this is just a comment on a tuition-based funding model and a taxpayer-based funding model.
This is an oversimplification of the leveling process, but what I wish to convey is that this is a statewide process that all public schools are subject to. Schools are not targeted or selected based on their achievement level or socio-economic status. The leveling process is a transparent process based on the state’s funding model. Every organization operates based on funding models. If a law firm does not have enough cases, they lay off employees. The same is true for hospitals with patients and Wal-mart with shoppers. Unfortunately, the school’s model happens to be teachers to students.
Now, I would like to address the 90% and how we react to it.
In the past week, there has been much inaccurate information shared and anxiety caused by information that was passed through channels that were not official. As the Jackson Community, we are responsible for our own morale and culture, and the preservation of both. As a community, we allowed damage to be caused to both this week.
There will always be outside forces in our community at large that work to harm the unique culture that is Jackson. There will always be those who take bits of information and attempt to craft their own scandalous narrative with an end goal of causing anxiety and strife. The goal of gossip and misinformation is never to help but to harm. My goal is to present the community with information as it becomes available and shutdown unofficial channels.
As we move forward, I can make a promise every member of the Jackson Community. I will be as transparent as possible through every process that affects Jackson and its students. I will always advocate for our school and I will always do what I feel is in the best interests of my students. As we moved through this process, as information was solidified, it was shared and the leveling process timeline was followed. Once all options were researched fully and a definitive decision was made (based on the data that showed what was in the best interest of Jackson) that information is being shared, and will continue to be shared, through official channels. I encourage the community to trust only official information that comes from the school and challenge all other sources. When decisions are made officially, we will share our data and rationales for decisions in a transparent manner. Parents will never have to rely on word of mouth for school based decisions.
I thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post and for your continued support of Jackson and for the efforts you are making to preserve its culture.