East Nashville United, a parent group formed in response to MNPS Director of Schools Jesse Register’s plan to reorganize schools in East Nashville, has issued a call for Register to push back his proposed timeline.
Register has said his plan will be finalized by January 1st. The parent group wants to use the remainder of the school year to collect input and develop a plan.
From the press release:
“If we’re going to do this well, and do it right, we must push back the deadline to the end of the school year,” said John Haubenreich, the chair of ENU. “We don’t want to sprint, just to realize at the end that we sprinted to the wrong place. This gives the task force time to do its work, to marshal community resources, look into grant materials, and integrate plans with the budget which isn’t voted on until the end of the school year.”
Haubenreich points to the sheer size of MNPS as an argument in favor of an urgent, but methodical approach. Using MNPS’ own per-pupil expenditure number ($11,012), the Maplewood cluster represents a $44 million system, while the Stratford cluster represents at $55 million system. Combined, Register seeks to reorganize a $100 million entity.
“Dr. Register has proposed much too fast of a timeline, “ Haubenreich said. “No business in the world would ever attempt such a huge undertaking, with such a valuable set of assets, in such a short amount of time. Getting it done right cannot be sacrificed on the altar of getting it done fast.”
Jai Sanders, a parent at Inglewood Elementary School, says that MNPS needs to use the remainder of the school year to put together a thoughtful, effective plan for the clusters. One of four priority schools in East Nashville, Inglewood Elementary School initially looked like it was fated for a charter conversion or even a closure. But Register appeared to back away from both options in the face of widespread opposition from parents at last week’s meeting at Inglewood Elementary School. Instead, Register has discussed other options including making Inglewood a STEM or Padeia school.
“We applaud Dr. Register for recognizing the strong parental and community support Inglewood Elementary has earned from all of us,” said Sanders, one of the founding members of ENU and an active member of his school’s PTO. “We now need him to take the time to see what our school is doing well and what it needs to continue to improve. We can get there but not if MNPS tries to throw together a complex, untested plan in a matter of weeks.”
Less than one month after Register announced his East Nashville plan to the Metro School Board, he has largely abandoned the plan’s centerpiece — the ‘All-Choice’ mandate for the Stratford and Maplewood clusters.
Haubenreich applauds Register for reaffirming his support for zoned schools.
“We believe that an all-choice zone, with no zoned schools, is the wrong path for East Nashville,” Haubenreich said. “Dr. Register has confirmed at community meetings that he has no intention of doing away with zoned schools, and we support that decision.”
Overall, ENU commends Dr. Register’s focus on the Stratford and Maplewood clusters. “The area’s diversity, population density and strong support for public schools of all shapes and sizes, creates an opportunity for successful reform,” said Ruth Stewart, the vice chair of the group and parent at Lockeland Design Center.
We do not need to choose between an unacceptable status quo and a plan that is the product of a hastily-assembled committee,” she added. “Rather, we demand that a community-driven task force have enough time to evaluate and ultimately recommend a range of approaches that reflect the needs of individual schools.”
“This doesn’t have to be a long process, but it shouldn’t be rushed either. You don’t improvepublic education on the fly.”
NOTE: John Haubenreich, identified in the press release as Chair of East Nashville United, is also a contributor to TN Ed Report.
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