Saturday, November 23, 2013

Overcrowding Cover Letter

Dear BCS Families - 

As we have all acutely felt over the past several months, our school is FULL. Not just a little, but a lot!  So much so, in fact, that it is absolutely critical we find more space for our students next year.  Several conversations have begun within the BCS community about this issue and while we wholeheartedly support and encourage this dialogue, it's important that it be focused on the facts and realistic in its approach to solutions.  To that end, the BCS PTA has prepared the attached document which summarizes the current situation, as well as options that were discussed last spring. We have also flagged some of the solutions PPS is most likely to consider this coming spring, when they make their decision on how to address our overcrowding problem for 2014-2015.  

As you think about this issue, we would encourage you to consider the following:  

   This is one of many crises for PPS: The most important agenda item for PPS right now is the teacher contract negotiations.  Until that issue is settled, all other agenda items are tabled.  It appears that we will not hear from the Facilities Team at PPS until at least mid-January, with a final decision about the short-term solution (for 2014-2015 school year) expected in late Spring 2014.
   We have short- and long-term solutions on the table: A long-term solution (2015 and beyond) will be district-wide and likely centered on boundary changes, as well as adjustments to enrollment and transfer rules.  This is an extremely complicated issue, involving more than 80 schools, thousands of district employees, and more than fifty thousand students.  And yes, it's likely to mean even more changes to BCS.  The issue on the table today is our short-term problem of overcrowding at BCS for 2014-2015.  
   We're not the only ones with space problems: Every school in the Grant High School cluster is feeling squeezed and there is very little, if any, wiggle room in terms of moving students between existing schools.
   PPS wants to work with us: The PPS team has demonstrated a strong willingness to include us in the conversations about our school.  In fact, they listened to our comments and concerns when we had this same conversation last year and didn't move our students to Rose City Park.  Little did any of us know that we would see such explosive growth in one year making the situation even worse today than it was 12 months ago.  PPS remains committed to working with us to find a reasonable solution and fully understands the urgency of our situation.  
   Beverly Cleary continues to excel despite our overcrowding: In many ways, we are blessed with a wealth of high-achieving, super-motivated students, teachers and parents!  We have our problems, for sure, but it's important to remember that our school continues to succeed in spite of them. 

Please read the attached document carefully.  The goal of this document is not to promote or endorse any particular solution but to present information regarding a complicated situation and to offer discussion items.  The points made in this document should not be considered as an endorsement by individual board members. 
We encourage you to consider and discuss the information.  When PPS is ready to talk with us, we want to be sure we are all well-informed and focused on solutions.  We must keep in mind that there may be other concerns and possible options that we have yet to consider.  To find a solution, it's important that we maintain a respectful dialogue.  Yes, we may disagree about some things, but again, the ultimate decision is up to the District.  The only certainty is that our school will look different next year than it does today.  It simply has to -- we don't have any more room.  
Where our kids go to school is a fundamental part of our identity, both as a family and as a community.  It's hard not to become overwhelmed by the emotions associated with changing schools, teachers, friends and classmates.  We need to be mindful, however, that what does/doesn’t affect you may greatly affect another family, and may even affect other schools in the Grant cluster.  The bottom line is that we all want what is best for our children. The only certainty here is change and we must remain flexible and measured in our thinking -- both as individuals and as a school community.
Please feel free to contact us with questions or concerns.  When we have more information we will make sure that it is shared with our community. 

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