School Board Questionnaire
In CommUNITY conversations, the district has communicated the possibility of re-aligning elementary buildings according to grade level. Would you support these measures, particularly if they have a positive impact on making Wyoming more equitable and inclusive?
I am personally in favor of retaining our small, neighborhood K-4 schools that have worked well for many years. Smaller class sizes in each building give each student more opportunities to be recognized as individuals. Any restructuring proposal should undergo rigorous community engagement, ensuring decisions reflect our values and the diverse needs of all students.
As a board member, I would champion widespread dialogue through forums, surveys, and meetings, inviting open discussion on potential changes. Before making any decision, we would need to conduct comprehensive studies evaluating the impact on educational quality, community bonding, and student well-being to avoid unintended consequences.
Ultimately, the decision should not be left to an individual or to a small group, but to the community as a whole.
I will support policies that “have a positive impact on making Wyoming more equitable and inclusive”; however, it is not clear to me that certain grade banding models would accomplish this goal. Reports from the most recent work of the new Primary Facilities Steering Committee indicate that due to logistical reasons all three of the current elementary sites must remain in use. If this is the case, I do not support grade banding (e.g. K-1 at Elm, 2-3 at Vermont, 5-6 at Hilltop) because research indicates that school transitions can be quite challenging for many students. In a community that is only 2.87 square miles it is a lot to ask of our students and families to attend 5 different schools over a span of 13 years! With the exception of discussions related to building accessibility and creating appropriate spaces for students with exceptionalities (changes that must take place), I did not observe much discussion of equity and inclusion during the initial facilities planning process. Any concerns related to equity and inclusion should be made explicit during the newly revised planning process.
The recently expanded 38 person committee looking at this includes diverse perspectives from every neighborhood and constituency in Wyoming, and is considering options that include use of all 3 of our current elementary schools. Their process includes looking at pros and cons of multiple options for how these buildings are used and they are sharing all of these with the community on October 30th. One option includes grade-banding (grades 3 and 4 all in 1 school prior to all kids going to middle school, for example). I am on the Belonging committee because I strongly support equity of opportunity and every student experiencing belonging. I will be listening with consideration for this, walkability, overall quality of education and other aspects of the WCS strategic plan (Teaching & Learning, Climate & Culture, Financial Stewardship) , during our Board meeting on October 23rd and the community meeting on October 30th.
When considering the consolidation of schools by grade levels, it’s important to carefully weigh the potential benefits to our children. Some potential educational advantages include improved access to resources, increased intervention and clustering possibilities, advanced learning opportunities especially in our specials like music and art, collaborative teacher planning, equitable opportunities for each child, and more efficient allocation of funding. Unfortunately, the footprint of our three primary schools, the inability to move elsewhere, traffic studies, building limitations, and substantial costs do not allow us to consider a major grade level consolidation. We anticipate either new-build or renovate Elm and Vermont while most likely a total new build at Hilltop. We need to strategize options that speak to the educational needs listed above within the footprint we have. The Primary Facilities Steering Committee is looking at several grade grouping options that meet our educational needs. Soon after I submit my responses to you, they will communicate options to us on October 30.
Our past practice has been to manage our primary as one grade block within three separate buildings. Students develop a sense of identity and close friendships because total enrollment in each primary building is small. This is meaningful. Ultimately, the best approach is a school that maintains a supportive and nurturing learning environment with a wealth of educational opportunities. Using the lens of the strategic plan, I hope that the Wyoming Primary Facilities Steering Committee will review the strategic pillars of our district – teaching and learning, social emotional growth, the culture we as a community want to embrace, and as always, be cognizant of cost. I would support the work of the committee based on those factors. After they complete their work, more research may happen. Eventually, there will be a statistical survey. Then the Board can come out of its listening mode to propose a primary plan to the voters that can be supported by this community.
It is clear to me that our primary-school buildings are in desperate need of structural improvement and/or replacement. There are many variables that will impact the course of how we proceed in improving these educational spaces. And certainly, grade-level alignment is a pedagogically, administratively, and socially relevant factor to consider.
But regardless of the final decision on options, it is important to recognize that we should have the ability to ensure that our primary classrooms provide inclusive and equitable environments for all of our students. Ultimately, the number of primary schools we have, their geographic location, and their grade configurations should not preclude us from developing classroom settings that support our values.