This is the prepared statement that we presented at the School Board Meeting:
Good evening. My name is Jenna Pilcher, and I have three children in the Dover school system. I am here representing Support Dover Excellence, a group of concerned parents, families, and community members. Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to speak here tonight.
Seeing that I only have five minutes to express these concerns, I ask you to please consider carefully to what I have to say.
We understand that there truly is a great need for funding for our schools, and we in no way want to hinder future efforts to obtain this much needed funding. In fact, we hope to do the opposite, and raise community awareness about this budget crisis so that we can be a part of the solution. We believe that we could be an excellent resource for you if we partner together.
We know that you, the board, need to make wise financial decisions and find ways to cut spending. However, the drastic changes being proposed to move to the “grade level” model in the elementary schools will be detrimental to the students on many levels, including emotional, mental, social, and potentially in the area of academic performance. It is unnecessary to make these proposed changes, which will inevitably impact our children, as there are other viable solutions to balance the budget.
There will also be an inevitable decrease in parental involvement, volunteers, and PTG activities, which provide funding for the elementary schools to purchase things such as school supplies, smart boards, assemblies for the students, playground maintenance, even entire playgrounds.
In the 2018 Dover City Schools Policy Manual it states, “As a Board of Education member, I keep the education and welfare of children as my primary concern.”
Breaking up our neighborhood schools will have a negative impact on our community and the families who call Dover home. There is overwhelming community support to stay with our current elementary school model, our neighborhood schools. Despite the failure of the levy, the community is not in favor of grade leveling.
It was October 9th when the Times Reporter published an article alerting the public of the changes that would take place if the operating levy didn’t pass, including the reconfiguration of the elementary schools. This article was published on the LAST DAY to register to vote, and only ONE DAY before early voting started, with Election Day to follow merely four weeks later.
Finally, I would like to highlight one more point taken from the Policy Manual in regards to Board-Community Relations: “The schools belong to the people. As elected officials, Board members have the responsibility to be representative, to be responsive, and to be effective as agents of change.”
Therefore, due to the delayed notification to the community of the budget crisis, and the measures that would be taken if the levy failed, we request a reprieve of any further steps forward in the pursuit to reconfigure the elementary schools, and we propose that you reassess the budget, looking for alternative ways to cut spending. We also urge you to open a dialogue within the community to hear feedback and ideas, similar to what you did when developing the high school construction project.
We formally request a community meeting with you where we can start a discussion about partnering with you to do what is best for our children, and work together to find a solution. By working together, we can explore many other options, and decide together what is best for the future of our children and our community. Thank you.