BEVERLY – Several teachers and staff reached out to the Fort Frye Local Schools Board of Education at its Wednesday night meeting.
Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Starcher said the teachers approached her to speak to the board to share her concerns about the school configuration.
Fifth grade teacher Jennifer Young spoke about the inequalities in the district and how the inequalities affect student education and teacher morale. One of the issues she mentioned was the disproportionate classrooms. As an example of inequality, she cited the subject teachers (visual arts, sports, arts) who vied for a quiet place to teach and had to travel to four different school buildings to teach the visual arts courses.
“So the level of planning to teach, teach, relational, discipline, and grade in these differently sized classrooms across the district has an impact on education.” said Jung. “The current structure creates numerous challenges and inequalities that affect our students.”
She encouraged the board to visit the school campus, and “See firsthand what a day in the life of Fort Frye is like.”
Music teacher Jessica Kennedy said the subject teachers were overwhelmed by having to teach eight different grades in four different schools. She gave an example of a normal day at Beverly Center Elementary School.
“There is music, art and sport at the same time, and art and music are on stage together, there is no wall that separates us. It’s just a couple of filing cabinets “, said Kennedy. “So these are fifth grade bands or fifth or fourth grade recorders that are being taught at the same time that art is trying to give an art class. It is not beneficial. “
Starcher explained with the spin-off of the middle school that the subject teachers would have to take over the seventh grade because the high school teachers had scheduling conflicts. She also said the county is unsure what to do with the music programs because everything can be enjoyed in any location. Kennedy said she would still ask the board about the configuration even if she didn’t have to handle the seventh grade music programming.
“I think what they are trying to say, what they have been trying for several years is the sustainability of our configuration they are struggling with, and getting into seventh grade fine arts only made it worse.” said stronger.
Starcher told the board it needs to find out if it wants to keep using the same configuration, and if so, be willing to spend the money to keep the configuration going. She said the district was already overstaffed due to a staff review and could spend money on hiring new employees or relocating employees to a new building.
Miranda Wilson, school psychologist, shared her concern to be able to help students when needed. She explained that she cannot be at all schools in the district at the same time, and if she is needed anywhere, she will have to quit her job and drive 30 minutes or more to get there.
“I really want to help and do what I can, and I don’t have the feeling that I can give everything because I’m not somewhere where people can come to me.” said Wilson.
She said she visits each school about four times a month and doesn’t think that’s enough. She said she just wants one way to access all of the students because “I don’t help anyone in the car.”
“That is a statement” said board member Stephanie Lang.
Board member Lloyd Booth said the board will hopefully come up with a plan to deal with the configuration issues.
“I’m just saying we definitely appreciate everything the teachers and all of the staff do.” said Kevin Worthington, another board member.
He said test results in the district show Fort Frye does best academically, and that’s because of the staff and teachers.
James Dobbs can be reached at [email protected]