Lakeville considers an innovative approach to education

  • Article by: Herón Márquez Estrada , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2013 - 1:55 PM

But parents at Orchard Lake Elementary are concerned the district is rushing the plans, which groups kids according to abilities rather than grade.

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parentatoleMar. 24, 13 6:05 PM

Some important details were left out of this article. The library will be dismantled and moved into two classrooms, therefore losing the main hub of the school for the pilot program. 400 kids will lose their large library space for the use of the 108 students iin the pilot program. this is NOT fair and equitable! OLE was selected because there will be a new principal at the building next year. None of the present principals would allow this pilot program in their buildings.Also the district office administration and Oxton tried to push the school board vote through BEFORE PARENT MEETINGS WERE SCHEDULED. In other words, BEHIND OUR BACKS! It has been an unethical and under handed process all along. This is public education...but most of this information was NOT public to the stakeholders at Orchard Lake...the parents and teachers.Lastly, 2 other buildings in the district have open settings that are appropriate for multi age classrooms like the pilot program right now. They also have EMPTY classrooms at other schools. Orchard Lake is bursting at the seams...and placing the pilot program in the library will include knocking down walls. Other schools in the district are far better suited for this program...with no construction needed. We have huge cuts and financial problems. This is NOT the time for a pilot program. Oxton and district administration are trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

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texas_technomanMar. 25, 1310:56 AM

This is not a new idea....it's been done before....maybe 30-40 years ago in the Minnetonka school system......

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parentatoleMar. 25, 13 8:28 PM

You are absolutely right, Texas techno man. It's not something new and it has been done many times. Don't get me wrong...it's a good learning environment for some kids...BUT NOT ALL KIDS. So it's not necessarily the program we disagree with...it's the way in which Superintendent Lisa Snyder and Julene Oxton tried to sneak this through for school board approval BEFORE INFORMING THE PARENTS. It's amazing what I have learned about politics in public education. We are the taxpayers...yet our dollars are being used without our approval. WE are the parents...these are OUR CHILDREN. WE DEMAND INPUT IN OUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION and how our tax dollars are spent! If the board passes this through tomorrow night...good luck passing the levy next November. We have devastating cuts continuing but new programs being implemented like the Impact Academy. Why pass a levy and raise our taxes if we can do these things while running with a deficit?" Obviously we don't need the money...?

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jennmkMar. 26, 13 8:43 AM

I'm not sure what the suggested timetable would have been for this as far as notification of parents, but it seems there were several months when parents could have participated in the process. The school board meeting discussions of this go back to September of 2012 at the latest. Not only were these meetings open to the public, but they were broadcast on TV and are archived online. Perhaps there were mentions of it before then too, but that's just when I see the earliest mention in my review of the meetings on the district web site. I'm sure this is a big change for the school and I'm not going to speak to the facility changes at the school but I'm not in the 194 district and I knew about this months ago because I was researching options for our kids going forward in a new district. I also, of course, keep tabs on what is happening in my own home district which is what prompted our search for a different district to begin with. There seems to be a lot of finger-pointing at Ms. Oxten but she has been front and center on this for months at meetings. You have input, but if you don't choose to stay informed, in all fairness, you can't blame the district and a few select people. What would be their end to this? Why "sneak" it through? It's a very interesting idea and an exciting program that could really change education in 194 and perhaps neighboring districts. I can understand having reservations about it but I don't understand the blame and the ire over it. The information was public for a pretty long time. By the way, from my attendance at one of the meetings, I learned that this is a cost-neutral program. Staff and expenses are shifting from one use to another. The levy doesn't really have much to do with this and work and materials are being donated (i.e. furniture for the new space). It seems they have worked hard to make this a program that could be experimented with at little to no new cost. I'm not sure what else someone would expect them to do differently.

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jennmkMar. 26, 13 9:07 AM

I just wanted to add that mention of Impact was also in the PTO minutes for Orchard Lake. Those minutes are posted to the Orchard Lake Facebook page, and even though there are 500 or so students at the school, only 61 people have "liked" that page to get updates. Could they have done more to inform parents? Maybe. But it's the parents' responsibility to seek out information about the general status of the school and district and stay informed too. I don't think all of the blame can be put on one committee or in the case of these comments, one person. I don't feel that's fair.

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mattosikaMar. 26, 1310:26 AM

Personally I wouldn't listen to anything coming from the Board of Education in Lakeville. As someone who's intimately familiar with how they run a school district I can say these people have little to no idea what they are doing. Thanks to them we have a 1 high school, 1 middle school, and 2 or 3 elementary schools we don't need but will still be paying for.

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oleparentMar. 28, 13 3:59 PM

I approached the principle about this on multiple occasions and was told to go to the District website for more information. Which I did but it did not answer any of my questions. I then went to Ms. Oxton who could tell me a lot about the program but could not speak to my concerns about the disruption to others at OLE not in the program. Other teachers were told not to discuss it at conferences. So yes I did try my best to gain a better understanding of this. From my standpoint I don't feel supported on this from EITHER side. The principle should have stuck around and answered concerns from parents. The media specialist should also have been there. This whole thing could have been approved with a whole lot more compromise but instead if you had any concerns it felt very much like you did not have the right to have them addressed. Now there is a dark cloud when I walk into our school. The fact is this was handled unethically from both sides. Why did it have to be a win-lose? Why not a win- win! Answering and addressing concerns would have gone a long way. Ms. Oxton could have been a little more flexible in her implementation plans to account for needs of the ENTIRE school. The principle should be a leader and support both OLE and the choice school instead of hiding and not addressing conflict. The staff better start coming together on this for the sake of all the kids at that school! BTW - PTO minutes conveniently left out that it would be at Orchard Lake so again the principle was trying very hard to avoid questions and conflict.

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