Questions for Principal Trogisch on the Merger

Posted on: March 26th, 2014 by Admin

Over 100 parents, teachers and students attended the SWWHS HSA Meeting on March 19, 2014. On the agenda was the merger of SWWHS with Francis Stevens. Attendees wrote questions and comments on index cards for SWWSA Principal Trogisch, who was not at the meeting. The questions were collected and shared with the Principal via email. Many of these questions were asked in multiple ways by multiple attendees – they have been categorized for review and the scanned versions of all the questions were sent to Principal Trogisch. Below is a summary of questions, organized by common topic and theme.

Principal Trogisch has called a meeting that will take place on April 2 at 6:30pm at SWWHS to address these questions. Please attend.

The SWW High School community — parents, students, alumni and concerned supporters — have strong concerns about the merger of School Without Walls High School and Francis Stevens, especially its impact on the education of our high school children. Chancellor Kaya Henderson and DCPS have proceeded with the merger of Francis Stevens and School Without Walls High School over the objection of parents and without addressing the strong opposing sentiment of the working group DCPS established. Movement forward on the merger continues without any transparency into what the plan for the schools will be and no community dialogue or input.

The petition addressing these concerns can be found here: http://chn.ge/OC1hvU

Questions for Principal Trogisch on the Merger:

IMPACT ON SWWHS STUDENTS

  • It is clear that this merger has many disadvantages for the high school students, but so far, nobody has articulated any benefits. What are the long- and short-term benefits for SWWHS students?
  • How can the merger benefit SWWHS students in terms of (1) preparation for college success, and (2) higher high school academic performance?
  • How will you ensure that current SWWHS standards remain in place during the merger?
  • How will the merger affect incoming 9th graders?
  • Why are you supporting such a drastic and undesired proposal, since you did so much to develop and nurture this school?

NO MERGER PLAN HAS EVER BEEN PRESENTED

  • What specifically is the plan for the merger? How is this supposed to work?
  • It’s been more than a year since this merger was first proposed, and neither DCPS, FS, nor SWWHS leaders have devised or presented a plan for discussion. How did you decide to merge without a plan identifying how the merged entity would operate?
  • What data are being used to inform those who support the merger?

TEACHING SWWHS STUDENTS ON TWO CAMPUSES

  • How can requiring SWWHS students to travel a mile to classes and also be separated from half their class benefit these students?
  • Given the recommendations of the task force, how can we ensure that all SWWHS students spend all four years of high school together?
  • How can having two campuses for SWWHS students work for those who want to take some classes at GW in the Exposure program?
  • Why is DCPS, on the one hand, giving unused school building to charter schools that want to consolidate campuses, yet splitting up SWWHS students?
  • How would SWWHS students get safely back and forth to Francis-Stevens?

ONE PRINCIPAL STRETCHED BETWEEN TWO SCHOOLS

  • You have been much less available at SWWHS since you’ve become principal for both schools. To make sure both schools are served well, why not have two principals, one for each school?
  • The quality and character of SWWHS was built on having a focused principal, but with your focus now a mile away, we’ve lost a key part of what made Walls work. How much time do you currently dedicate to SWWHS?
  • What is the plan for building leadership within SWWHS, now that the principal is responsible for two schools? There must be a clear process for day-to-day decision making.
  • With the schools merged and you serving as principal for both, will you take personal responsibility for declining quality at SWWHS, and resign if test scores decline at either school?
  • Why do you consistently fail to attend either LSAT or HSA meetings, and why are you failing to advocate for SWWHS?
  • What are your thoughts on why the shared principal for Hardy Middle School did not work well?
  • Is there a financial incentive for the principal to run two schools?

MERGED SCHOOL BUDGETS

  • Why were the budgets of the two schools merged? Specifically, why did you ask for budgets to be merged against LSAT recommendations?
  • SWWHS parents strongly prefer to maintain separate budgets for the two schools. Do you support separate or merged budgets?
  • Why is a merged budget a reasonable idea, since that will make it difficult to ensure transparency in how funds are used?

POOR COMMUNICATION WITH PARENTS, LACK OF TRANSPARENCY 

  • How do you reconcile your recent remarks that a school’s success comes from being transparent about decisions when you have not been transparent with your actions?
  • Why has there been no transparency or community input in this process, since this merger changes the culture of the school so completely?

LONG-TERM PROSPECTS FOR SWWHS

  • Won’t SWWHS ultimately be reduced to being a “local” high school that Francis-Stevens feeds into, since Wilson is bursting at the seams and most students don’t want to go to Cardozo?

INCREASED ENROLLMENT AT SWWHS AND MAINTAINING ACADEMIC STANDARDS

  • If the plan is to increase enrollment, what will the impact be on SWWHS admissions standards and current academic model?
  • Do you feel SWWHS enrollment should increase? If so, to what size?
  • If the goal of DCPS is to enroll more students at SWWHS, then DCPS needs to expand the school’s current space to keep it intact.