NBCPhiladelphia.com - Claudia Rivero
School district officials have approved a plan to merge elementary schools into new school "centers." The move was done to lower class size and improve student learning.
The Pottsgrove School District approved a new proposal concerning three Lower Pottsgrove schools in spite of opposition from parents.
Under the plan, Ringing Rocks Elementary School and the West Pottsgrove Elementary School will convert from kindergarten through 5th grade schools to kindergarten through 2nd grade centers. Lower Pottsgrove Elementary will change from a kindergarten through 5th grade school to a 3rd through 5th grade center.
The District made the proposal last fall in order to lower class size and improve learning for younger students.
“We really want to get our kindergarten and 1st grade and 2nd grade reading,” said Dr. Bradley Landis, the Lower Pottsgrove Superintendent. “We think with a full day K and having centers focused on just that we have a much better shot at doing that.”
Numerous parents in the area have spoken out against the plan however. Rick Rabinowitz created a facebook group opposing the proposal. He also created an online petition as well as hard copies. So far the petition has gained over 1300 signatures.
“My hope is that they recognize that they need these parents and this community behind them for something as major as completely redoing the way that elementary education is delivered,” said Rabinowitz.
Another opponent of the plan is Ranell Cole, a parent of four children who moved into a home that is only two blocks away from Ringing Rocks Elementary.
“We moved here for that reason that the school was within walking distance,” said Cole. “Having four kids, it was an ideal thing.”
Barb Krock has four kids that could potentially be bussed away from Ringing Rock if the proposal passes. She disputes the notion that consolidating lower grades means teachers can pool their talents.
“I used to be a teacher,” said Krock. “They say that teachers can plan better. I think there are too many cooks in the kitchen when that happens.
Many parents are also worried about longer bus rides for their children.
“We understand the emotions involved,” said Dr. Landis. “If we move forward with this we would have transition plans and try to address the concerns that have been expressed.”
A meeting was held at 7:30 p.m. at Pottsgrove High School in which the School District board of directors voted in favor of the proposal.
"Not an easy decision," said School Board member Justin Valentine. "But best for all the kids in the district."
More than 100 parents attended the meeting. Many of them left feeling angry and disappointed.
"My kids are going to be driving 30 minutes when their school is across the street," said Gibney.
"They're moving the kids around to hide the kids not succeeding because they can't fix this through education," said another parent.
"I just hope that they can pull it off in six months or a lot of students are going to be affected and it's not going to be pretty, especially with the parents," said Tina Cappiello.
The changes will go into effect during the upcoming school year.