RSIS or STEM Part 1

With all the discussions about the possibility of re-opening Pilgram Lane Elementary or Olson Elementary for a magnet school (either expanding Spanish Immersion or creating a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), we’ve been pondering what to write about this.  The Sun Post did an interesting article summarizing the options for the district from a presentation on December 13.  Here is a part of the article;

– RSIS expansion beginning in 2011-12 with kindergarten at the current Sunny Hollow site, and 50 percent of the expansion seats (33 of the 198 total) reserved for students open-enrolling.

– RSIS expansion beginning in 2012-13 at Olson with kindergarten and first grade, and with 50 percent of seats at each grade level (33 of 198 seats per grade level, with both sites combined) reserved for students open-enrolling.

– RSIS expansion beginning in 2012-13 at Olson with kindergarten and first grade, and with one-third of seats at each grade level (22 of 198 seats per grade level, with both sites combined) reserved for students open-enrolling.

– Combination alternative of RSIS expansion at Olson as well as expansion of Spanish immersion and/or dual Spanish immersion program at selected sites (school within a school).

– STEM magnet school at Olson with 50 percent of seats reserved for students open-enrolling and with fourth and fifth grade sections full beginning in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

– STEM magnet school at Olson with one-third of the seats reserved for students open-enrolling and with fourth and fifth grade sections full beginning in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Though we think he is a supporter of a new magnet school, Superintendent Dr. Aldo Sicoli cautioned the school board about a possible expansion;

“Do we want to commit to something we would start in one building and move it to another without knowing about the budget?” Sicoli said. “We don’t want to create something that’s not in the financial best interest of the district. We need to look at it from all sides. Anytime we open a new building, it costs money. It’s easier to bring in students if you have a building with space.”  The board also needs to consider the political reality of saving 50 percent of the seats for non-residents, Sicoli said.

Now we are not universally opposed to magnet schools in general but we have some serious reservations about this expansion, not the least of which is who and how we will pay for improvements on these buildings (we’ll get into that in a future article).  The board makes a big deal about wanting to keep kids here and using a magnet program as an idea.  The Sun Post reported the following;

One of the issues the district is addressing is how to attract and bring back resident students who have left to attend classes in other districts.  Last year more than 100 families failed to be chosen in the lottery for RSIS, and 52 percent of them subsequently left the district.

So let us get this straight; about half of the families who didn’t get into RSIS left the district but the district wants to “reserve seats” for kids who don’t live here!  How will that work?  What does the district think will happen if open enrolled kids get priority over kids who live here?  Does anyone think these families will stay then?  It seems to not make sense.

If RSIS is expanded or if a STEM program is adopted, then at minimum we call for NO SPECIAL PROVISIONS.  No automatics for siblings, no automatics for the children of staff members, no affirmative action, and no special spots for kids who don’t live here.  At least then it will be a fair lottery.

Then again, maybe the better idea is to stop trying to be everything to everyone and PAR DOWN and offer the same educational opportunities to all of our students.  Should getting a better education depend on where you live ,or if your name gets picked in a lottery, or if you meet some other special provision?  Let’s give EVERYONE equal opportunity!

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One Response to “RSIS or STEM Part 1”

  1. give2attain Says:

    “Should getting a better education depend on where you live ,or if your name gets picked in a lottery, or if you meet some other special provision?”

    Unfortunately you have fallen into that RSI Supporter trap again… Your statement infers that they are getting a better education. Whereas in reality they are just getting a different education. And that education is only better if you truly value having Spanish speaking kids… (ie bi-lingual)

    As I have shown many times before, RSI student scores are better because of the low diversity and an abundance of support by Lucky families. (ie volunteering, funding extra non-USA teachers, etc) And ironically, ZLE has slightly better scores with twice the diversity… Which makes sense since ZLE kids are focused on English/Math, whereas the RSI kids have to learn Spanish while learning English/Math. A lot to push into those sweet little heads…

    As for “chopping down” the “special trees” to ensure everyone is equal. TREES by Rush Seems like a bad idea as long as Hopkins has their RSI equivalent open for business. Assuming RSI has ~600 kids at ~$10,000/kid, that could result in a loss of ~$6,000,000 in RAS revenue. A good portion of which is used to pay for District “overhead” that benefits all of the schools.

    As for reserving seats, RAS definitely seems to be talking out of both sides of their mouth.
    “We need more seats to satisfy our RAS families…” (ie RAS Families should have choice… And we will fund it…)”
    “We need to limit Intradistrict Transfer and hold seats for Open Enrollees so we can get their funding.” (ie RAS Families can just stay put)

    It is an interesting balance…

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