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SBXMy speech to school board

Written By: Kitten - Mar• 15•13

My name is Trina Smith. I am a mother of a 2010 graduate and a current junior at Sullivan North. I would like to present to you another concern that the community has for the proposed rezoning option; asking in return that you, as our elected board, allow more time on this matter.As a former coach in the Bloomingdale basketball and softball leagues, I have had the pleasure of being involved with the youth of bloomingdale for many years. I have also been dealing with the north zone instability since my daughter was part of the first eighth grade class. She worried every year about whether she would graduate from north. And now my son, who is a junior, and shouldn’t be worrying about anything more than prom, is now worried about where he will graduate from and whether or not he will be able to play football his senior year. Many students have already purchased varsity letter jackets and class rings that say Sullivan North.

Studies conducted over the past 10-15 years suggest that in smaller schools, students come to class more often, drop out less, earn better grades, participate in extracurricular activities more, feel safer and show fewer behavior problems. To many students, today’s large schools, more often feel like impersonal, intimidating and inefficient warehouses. Research also shows that violent incidents are eight times more likely to occur in schools with more than 750 students. Only 5-12% of students in large schools participate in extracurricular activities. I would be willing to say that probably half or more of Norths population participates in sports, band and clubs.

In large schools, the chance of a child falling through the cracks will be substantially increased, due to the fact the teacher can’t give the students one on one attention like they get now at north. Students and parents like the small family feel of north, if they wanted their child to go to a large school, they would send them to the city. I lived in the city and sent my son to city schools for two years. They would not follow his IEP recommendations. He came real close to failing 7th grade. I sent him to north for eighth grade and he made honor roll the first grading period. Why? Because those teachers followed the recommendations and figured out what he needed in order to do his best.

Researchers have found that changing schools can be as stressful on students as the hospitalization or incarceration of a parent. Throw in the special needs of the child and it is even worse. Some children require precise and consistent routines. The north teachers do just that. But for as long as anyone can remember, it has not been easy. How can you make things routine, when you don’t know from one year to the next if your school will be there after this year?

Students, like my son, are in regular education classes with assistance as needed. My son doesn’t feel intimidated or embarrassed to ask for help. He will ask his teacher or even a classmate for help. But if you move him to south for his senior year, his grades will drop. He will be too embarrassed to ask for help from anyone.

 

I have been involved with the special needs program since 1998. The main goal is to have the child in the least restrictive and best environment to the well being of the child. I feel by moving the students to south, it would be very restrictive on his learning and will be going against the requirements of the special education program. I’m sure that south has excellent special needs teachers. But my son and the other children do not know them. They know the teachers at north and have a relationship with them. You put a special needs child in a room with people he doesn’t know, and his learning will be effected and grades will drop.

I found an article from April 7th, 2011 Kingsport times news, where you said, mr Yennie, that Sullivan north has been on your radar since you took office in June 2010. What happened to the promise you made us last year? That if we agreed to move the middle school to Sullivan north, that you would leave Sullivan north alone and our children wouldn’t have to live in fear? Mr Yennie, you made that promise to our community and yet here we are again one year later, fighting for our school after you promised we were safe. According to your slide Ketron Elementary is at 103% capacity while Sullivan North Middle is at 97% capacity. You do realize that those students will be feeding Sullivan north high and increase the numbers. Sullivan north was one of only 2 reward high schools in 2012, despite the unrest and uncertainty over the past decade. Despite the constant closing of our elementary schools. Despite the constant fear of being told they would have to go to another school miles away. These children and teachers managed to achieve and make it in the top 5% for progress.

We, the members of this county, ask for stability. Stability in knowing that each of you would not rush such a radical decision before you are certain that it is the best decision: for every tax payer, every community, every teacher, every school, and most of all every child in this county that you serve. More time is needed.

The north zone has had enough. The parents have had enough. I look in the faces of my son and his friends. I look in the faces of girls I have coached. And I promise them that I will fight for them until the day you take down the Sullivan north high school sign. But until that day comes Mr. Yennie, you better get used to seeing my face and hearing my voice. Because I’m in it for the long haul. Thank you (1685)

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