Time to Act: Action Required Regarding FS Merger

Posted on: December 20th, 2013 by Admin

December 19, 2013

Parents,

Since our meeting Tuesday night to discuss the merger (meeting mintues), we have heard from many parents. The general sentiment is that parents believe that despite our recommendations, a decision is going to be made requiring our high school students to take classes at Francis-Stevens.

DCPS Chief of Schools John Davis did not commit to a date for decision, but indicated he thought it would not go beyond January.

Parents in attendance believe our community cannot afford to just wait and hope for the best. There is clear agreement that our community must be vocal in urging a decision that endorses the working group recommendations.

So we ask every SWW parent to send emails immediately to:

—  DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson (kaya.henderson@dc.gov)

—  Mayor Vincent Gray (Vincent.gray@dc.gov)

—  Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith (Abigail.smith@dc.gov), and

—  City Council Education Chairman David Catania (dcatania@dccouncil.us).

Emails should make the following points:

  • The unanimous recommendations of the SWW-FS working group should be supported.
  • DCPS should not ignore the huge logistical considerations of splitting our student body and teachers by sending some of them a mile away for classes.
  • DCPS should keep its word that our school and students will not be harmed by the merger.
  • Stop stringing us along and make that decision now.

This is the moment for our parent community to stand up and lead. Please don’t leave it to someone else. We urge every single mother, father and guardian of freshmen and sophomores, whose students quite frankly have the most to lose if DCPS sends kids to FS, to weigh in. For those of us whose students are juniors and seniors, this is our battle too. We are a community for a reason. We don’t have a go-it-alone strategy. We are in this together and now we need to fight this together.

We ask you to take five minutes today to write to the four individuals above and your council member whose e-mail addresses we have listed below.

Phil Mendelson (Chair) –pmendelson@dccouncil.us

Jim Graham (Ward 1) –jgraham@dccouncil.us

Jack Evans (Ward 2) – jevans@dccouncil.us

Mary M. Cheh (Ward 3) – mcheh@dccouncil.us

Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) –mbowser@dccouncil.us

Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5) – kmcduffie@dccouncil.us

Tommy Wells (Ward 6) – twells@dccouncil.us

Yvette M. Alexander (Ward 7) – yalexander@dccouncil.us

Marion Barry  (Ward 8) –mbarry@dccouncil.us

Please copy swwhsa@swwhs.org on your emails. We encourage you to use the four bulleted points above and the background points below to guide your emails.

Sincerely,

Jean Boland, HSA President                                                Ed Lazere, LSAT Parent Co-Chair

Background

  • One year ago DCPS announced that SWW would merge with FS, without any discussion with our community.
  • To implement this decision, a proposal was made to split the junior class and send them to FS for classes, separating them from the rest of the SWW community for half the week and from their own class for the entire school year.
  • In response to swift and strong reaction from our community, DCPS formed a working group of SWW and FS parents and teachers to consider the proposal especially physical location of SWW students at FS, shared leadership, merged budgets and increased enrollment for SWW.
  • The working group worked from July to November to consider the merger, interviewing DCPS leaders, analyzing data, researching models, etc. On Nov. 12, the working group sent unanimous recommendations to DCPS Chief of Schools John Davis. Key recommendations: no SWW students at FS, due to insurmountable logistical problems, and extreme negative impact on SWW culture including classes, clubs and activities.
  • On Dec. 17 DCPS Chief of Schools John Davis met with SWW parents. He said he found the obstacles raised by the working group real, but was still wrestling with the decision. He saw the opportunity to use the currently five empty classrooms at FS as an opportunity to admit more students to SWW.
  • Parents of current and prospective students deserve a decision now, so that they can make informed decisions about whether SWW is the right school for their family.