This is the prepared statement that we presented at the School Board Meeting:
My name is Lindsay Stemple, and I am here representing a group called Support Dover Excellence. In recent weeks, our group has asked the School Board and Administration for a reprieve from the pursuit to reconfigure the elementary schools into grade leveled buildings.
We are here tonight to, once again, reiterate that grade leveling will adversely affect our children’s emotional health, academic performance, and their stability and development. We also maintain that there are other viable solutions to cut spending.
Grade leveling is absolutely UNNECESSARY. The financial savings that are being put forth as a result of grade leveling are ACTUALLY a result of a reduction in staff. In other words, the savings does not come from grade leveling, it comes from reducing 7-10 teaching positions, which can be done without reconfiguring the schools. In addition, reducing staff within the current school model requires NO INVESTMENT, as opposed to grade leveling, which does require an investment.
As promised, our group has put together a viable financial alternative to grade leveling. We are somewhat limited in our access to specific data, so our proposal is based on the information we have obtained through a series of public record requests. We are extremely confident that our proposal will save, AT MINIMUM, the same amount that grade leveling is proposed to save.
You have stated, yourselves, multiple times how extremely severe this financial crisis is. We agree that we truly are facing a financial crisis, and, in order to “live within our means” and “operate our school district in the black”, there are many additional opportunities to make cuts above and beyond what is already being suggested by the Board, that WILL NOT affect the educational experience of the students.
You have planned to implement grade leveling; we have prepared a viable alternative which we are ready to present to you in its finalized state. However, a cooperative, collective effort between the Board, theAdministration, and members of the community will yield a plan that is superior to either the plan to grade level, or our alternative.
Therefore, we are asking you, the Board, to work in cooperation with us to select members of our group to serve as a special task force, charged with the responsibility to weigh additional significant budget cuts, and requesting that you direct the Administration to collaborate with us to agree on a financial solution.
If you choose not to move in this direction, we are requesting a special board meeting, with all school board members present, where we can present our proposal to you and to the public. We request that this meeting be scheduled for a date in the next two weeks, with the date being set within 48 hours.
We want to again thank you all for your willingness to keep the lines of communication open with us, and we are very grateful for the time and effort that you have already spent working with us on this project.