The Wicomico County Board of Education accepted the Facilities Task Force Long Range Planning Report back in July. The plan can be found on the Wicomico County Board of Education’s webpage http://www.wcboe.org The following concerns are from teachers and parents within our community:
· The Board of Education has done a disservice to our district. The task force who created this plan had 32 members and the Willards and Pittsville communities were not represented. Our community as a whole will be directly affected through the proposed increase in population within our schools. The BOE did not consult anyone from our district prior to acceptance of the plan. They only decided to come to present the plan to us upon our demands. This meeting will be on Oct. 27th at 7pm at the Pittsville School in the Cafeteria.
· The Board of Education has done a disservice to the teachers. The teachers, parents and principals of the schools have been made aware of this plan by accident it appears. They did not receive so much as a memo with regard to the acceptance of this plan. The teachers are afraid to voice their opinions or oppositions to the plan as employees of the Board of Education. The teachers should have a voice because they are the ones on the front line; they have a better understanding of how these decisions will affect the classrooms.
· Here is a summary of what the plan means for our district: Willards is becoming a K-5th grade Elementary School and is currently overcrowded since the 3rd graders have already been moved for the 2014 school year. When 5th and 6th grades are moved in, portables will be added. Pittsville becomes a Middle School with grades 6-8. Both schools will become overcrowded and portables are listed as the solution to the intentional overcrowding when Wicomico Middle School closes and the new attendance boundaries are adjusted.
· Little or no attention has been given to our school’s facilities in terms of water, sewer, and/or roads, parking and the like. In fact, the Facilities Task Force never asked any important questions to our respective towns when they decided to increase our population within our schools within their plan.
· In order to complete un-pairing, the use of portable classrooms is considered the solution to the intentional overcrowding of Willards Elementary School. It appears that this usually considered temporary facility will in essence be a permanent fixture because the 5 year plan does not have any mention about additions to the schools which will become overcrowded.
· Each school has had security upgrades to the front entrances. The K-3rd graders will be guarded within the school. The 4th and 5th graders will be in unsecure portables for the foreseeable future. This plan negates the security of the upgrades within the school through the increased use of the other entrances. The portables themselves are hardly considered secure.
· The portables are not safe. They are not built to the standards we demand for our children. With the lack of security, lack of adequate heating and cooling, lack of air quality, leakage from rain, and with the fact that they are noisy and possibly toxic based on this audio report at this link: portable-classrooms they should be eliminated as a viable solution to any overcrowding issue.
The safety of our children should come first!
· Ideally it would be best if the Wicomico Board of Education would leave our schools out of the plans for un-pairing. Once the facilities are adequate, and an addition is built onto Willards, the community might then embrace un-pairing. Pittsville School can accommodate 4th and 5th graders in the meantime. Those students will continue to be safe there.
· Population Growth projection:
o See page 12 for this excerpt:
o Willards is State Rated to have a capacity of 292. See appendix page C13 of the plan. The total population in 2012 for Willards School was 306. Now that they have moved in the 3rd graders, the population is over capacity with 420+ students. As seen in the above excerpt the guidelines project a maximum of 650 students.
o Pittsville is State Rated to have a capacity of 505. See appendix page C20 of the plan. The total population in 2012 for Pittsville School was 473. The plan is projecting a maximum of 400 per grade level with a maximum of 1200 per middle school as seen in the above excerpt regarding population guidelines (pg. 12).
· Pittsville & Willards facilities cannot accommodate more students and more traffic.
o Main Street and Gumboro Rd. in Pittsville has one blinking light with a terrible intersection. More bus traffic and more parent traffic will cause major problems for our community. It is bad enough as it is.
o As per the state highway department there has not been a traffic study to assess the increased traffic on Main Street or Old Ocean City roads. Maintenance of roads in these areas would have to be investigated considering there will be an increase of bus and parental traffic.
o Sherriff Mike Lewis informed me that in the first 9 months of this year there had been 12 accidents in and around the roads 346 and 353.
o During dismissal Main Street outside the Pittsville School becomes grid locked. There is not a turn lane, so the entire east-bound lane is stopped for about 40 minutes. Increasing our population will only increase this problem.
o Parking is also inadequate as it is right now at both Willards and Pittsville Schools.
o The town of Pittsville is not prepared to consider the increased amount of students in the school and the increase in sewer usage.
· The proposal has little or no emphasis on doing anything based upon what is best for the children and especially not for those of our district!
· We have about 40 homes for sale in Pittsville and numerous more in foreclosure. The property values will decrease given that our school districts will be considered over-crowded after the Board of Education makes their plan a reality.
· Please attend this: