School board makes progress

I’d like to commend individual members and the Board of Education as a whole for showing leadership and providing clear direction on the GATE program review and several other districtwide matters of interest during the May 2 board meeting. Amid all the angst and heated discussion going on recently, it was refreshing to see some clarity and new direction infused into the process as the meeting progressed.

A board decision that should have an immediate and lasting effect on the tenor of discussions is the program name change to Alternative Instructional Model, or, AIM. Hopefully, this will allow the community to focus more on the substantive issues affecting the district’s academic programs and help us move away from the battle of perceptions and rhetoric.

In this light, it was also encouraging to see that the scope of the AIM program review will be conducted more within the context of the full suite of magnet and other focused needs programs. There was talk about addressing these programs through the lens of an integrated “continuum” of educational options available to students across all grade levels, but especially at our neighborhood primary schools.

Perhaps most encouraging was the board’s direction to district the administration to start looking for immediate ways to improve the range of enrichment options available at the neighborhood schools such as with appropriate level math placements and other known opportunities for differentiated instruction. Kudos to the board for the progress made on these important questions.

A topic of immense community interest that’s bound to be on future board agendas is current class sizes. While there’s not much to debate here, the challenge will be in the how the district looks to achieve smaller class sizes with an improving fiscal horizon.

Chuck Rairdan

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