Sunday, February 15, 2015

Meetings about proposed ICEF co-location: Stoner ES "empty" classrooms explained

     This past week, LAUSD held two meetings in the Stoner Elementary School auditorium for parents and community members to inform them of the proposed co-location of ICEF Vista on the Stoner ES campus for 2015/16. Since these were open meetings, I invited ICEF administration, teachers, members of the board and community to attend the meetings so that they could hear first hand the concerns of the Stoner parents and the neighborhood community about any co-location. A few ICEF parents showed up, but no ICEF officials attended.
    Once again, the Stoner community was told that "empty" classrooms on campus would be given to a charter school. Principal Stapleton explained that according to the Prop. 39  co-location assessment, Stoner ES had 15 "empty" classrooms. Prop. 39 methodology only counts as full a classroom with a teacher and a roster of students. Any set-aside rooms or special program rooms are considered "empty." 
     In reality, of the 15 "empty" classrooms, only 1 room is truly not being used. The other 14 "empty" rooms are being used for:  a 60 instrument orchestral music program, a computer lab, art classes, the parents center, a theater program, LA’s Best (after school program), a Speech therapist, a virtual dental clinic; a counselor, a psychologist, a teaching & learning PD, an AP office and adult English education classes for the community.
     Removing any of these rooms and resources would be devastating to the students of Stoner Elementary and the local community it serves.
     Next year, Stoner will also be starting a Bilingual Spanish Maintenance program and building a STEM (Science, technology, engineering & math) laboratory. These programs were not taken into account by the Prop 39 assessment. The bilingual program currently has enough students signed up for 2 classes of K for Fall 2015/16.

     ICEF is asking for 9 rooms. Which of these nine programs would you have us give up or reduce to make space for a co-location? Which programs would you give up if your children and community were involved? The bilingual program? the STEM lab? Music? Arts? Counselor, psychologist, dental clinic? The after school program or theater?
      What do you think the atmosphere will be like on campus? How do you think the Stoner students will feel knowing that they won't have orchestra or art anymore because of the ICEF students are in those rooms? How will the ICEF student feel on campus?

     This co-location would have the local Del Rey community fighting over resources in their own community with their own neighbors. The few ICEF parents who attended the informational meeting expressed concern and distress at what the co-location would truly mean not only for Stoner, but for their own children.
     I hope that ICEF is able to understand that this proposed co-location is a bad idea and the request should be withdrawn immediately, but the Stoner community is not taking any chances and is going to make sure that they hear our concerns loud and clear.

     This coming week, the Stoner community will be conducting a letter writing/emailing campaign and collecting signatures for a petition opposing the colocation to present to the ICEF Board of Trustees at their monthly meeting this Thursday, February 19.
     Our hope is that ICEF will drop its bid for rooms and not continue the colocation process past the March 1 deadline to respond to the Feb 1 preliminary co-location proposal.

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