OPINION: BHS - Achieving the Very Best of Small School Benefits
Creating a small class and small school feeling in a larger high school building is possible.
I have a fifth grader at West Hills Middle School. He was moved as a fourth grader from a “small” elementary school of about 350 kids to the middle school numbering nearly 600 kids as part of our last consolidation.
At West Hills, the 4/5 grades are nestled in a wing all by themselves. My son has a small single classroom elementary educational experience. He gets all the benefits that the building can offer, like more computers, a large gym and field house, band rooms, and art facilities. He now has the opportunity to take accelerated classes with the 6th graders, all without leaving the school grounds. He has a counselor that he never had before that will get to know him over 5 years. He has the opportunity to join clubs and school sports to meet older, more-experienced kids. And he gets all this and feels part of a larger community at West Hills in his small, safe elementary wing.
This is a perfect example of past experience we can draw from to create a small class and small school feeling in a larger high school building community. One that captures all the benefits that we can provide to enhance that experience.
Do we really want to isolate the 9th graders to where they don’t feel a part of a larger community? Keep them from a complete high school experience? For clubs, arts, and sports they will either be separated or bused back to the main campus including any advanced or other classes that are not offered at the 9th grade campus.
For the people thinking of voting ”no,” please think about this. We will lose out on $1.4 million each year that we could be spending on academics. Instead, we will spend this money to maintain two very old, out-of-date infrastructures. The environment is less safe in these two older buildings. The teaching flexibility will suffer and we will not keep pace with our neighboring communities that have spent money to invest in their futures. Is that really better?
True, it requires us to make an investment in our community, in our future, in our own excellence. But it asks us to invest at a level that is 20% lower than what we currently pay now.
I choose an investment rather than risk the deterioration of my community and my schools as they fall the way of the old edifices that the buildings represent. Our community stays strong when we attract people to it that are looking for the very best. Will they continue to move here? Will the best teachers choose us? Let’s not gamble with the answer. Vote 'Yes' on May 8th.