UPDATE: Holmes PTA opposes 9th Grade Reconfiguration

davis-high-schoolby Holmes Jr. High PTA

Holmes PTA opposes 9th grade reconfiguration at this time and voted at our last board meeting on 2/28 against this change. We strongly believe that the process is being moved forward without the proper notification to and input from the district’s parents, students, staff and teachers. We cannot find any evidence why the district thinks this move is necessary and a good idea.  We need this process to SLOW DOWN.
There are many questions to be addressed before we can possibly decide what should happen.
Some major questions are:

Will there be enough room at DHS for all the students?

Will teachers have a room to prepare for their classes?

Will the ensuing overcrowding provide a positive learning
environment for the 9th graders or will it create more problems than it solves?

How much money will be saved?

How will that money be saved?  

If closing a junior high campus is a plan, which one is slated for closure and how will the remaining junior highs be configured?

If there is a school closure, how we will be assured that the facility will not be reopened, thus negating any cost savings?

And most importantly:  WHAT IS THE JUSTIFICATION AND WHAT IS THE PLAN?

There are other crucially important issues to consider.  Research solidly demonstrates that 9th grade risk-taking behavior is heightened the earlier 9th graders are exposed to older peers.  Research also shows that allowing 9th graders to be in a position of leadership is a major benefit to their growth. This happens in our current configuration.  Additionally, Davis has nearly a zero drop-out rate for 9th graders.  Will that continue if this change occurs?

While no one issue is dispositive, we as a parents are extremely concerned that this major shift, which will affect every single student in this district, is being rushed through without proper process and consideration. We are convinced that the district is not asking its staff “whether” this should happen, but “how” best to implement the change. And they are asking for their help in making this transition a smooth one.  Why have we jumped to this step?

As parents, we are reasonable people who care deeply about our children and our schools.  It may well be that, after the proper analysis of all these relevant considerations, the community will decide the best choice is to reconfigure. However, without the proper process, we oppose a reconfiguration.   We are not being given a say as parents. How is this possible?

What can you do to get behind this opposition and lend your support?  

We are asking that all parents, teachers, and staff join us at the school board meeting tonight, Thursday, March 7 to support opposition to immediate reconfiguration during the public comment period from 7 to 7:30 pm.   In addition, we urge everyone to attend each upcoming board meeting to show support and be heard.  The dates of these meetings are 3/21, 4/18 and 5/2, all at 7pm.   You should also email the board members immediately to give them your thoughts on this issue.

This is our time to speak up.  Time is not on our side.  Without support from the community, this change is imminent.

Concerned Parents of Holmes PTA Asks for Open Process on 9th Grade Issue

We are informed that our children may be placed at risk, and you may be deprived of your right to a fair and open process.  The Board of Trustees is looking for reasons to move all 9th grade students to Davis High School starting 2014-2015 school calendar year.  The Superintendent has “invited” teachers to “assist” district staff make this transition. For the reasons stated below, we are asking every parent, teacher and administrator of Davis Joint Unified School District to attend any and all Board meetings between now and June.  This is not a drill.  You do not have to speak unless you wish to.  Your presence is a show of support of our children and a demand for a fair and open process.

Board meetings are held in Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd., corner of Russell and B Street.  The critical meetings of the DJUSD Board of Trustees are:
March 7  at  7 p.m.                                        May 2  at 7 p.m.

March 21  at 7 p.m                                        May 16  at  7 p.m.

April 18  at  7 p.m.

If this information comes as a surprise to you, it should.  In accordance with the Professional Governance Standards recommended by the California School Board Association (CSBA) to promote best practices and adopted by the Board, a normal process would be:

1)      Involve the community, parents, students and staff in developing a common vision for the district focused on learning and achievement and responsive to the needs of all students.

2)      Adopt, evaluate and update policies consistent with the law and the district’s vision and goals.[1]

Clearly, in what is the most controversial issue since the closing of Valley Oak, at least some members of the Board have decided to just do away with step one.

Pursuant to a normal process, the District would have made a public announcement, not a constructive announcement by way of an extremely brief, vague statement posted on the District’s website.  Under a normal process, the community would have already been involved in a public process that clearly identified the problem and invited input regarding ways in which to address the problem.  After full, careful and public consideration of the all solutions available to the community, the Board, as our representatives, would then be “exploring” the “reconfiguration” of secondary schools, if and only if, it was the best possible course of action for our children.  At that point, it would have come as no surprise to the entire Davis community that such a thing could happen.

Regrettably, that did not happen.  Without community awareness or input as described above, the Board directed the Superintendent to engage in “an internal input gathering process.”[2] Whether this directive was given during open session and on the record remains unclear.  What is clear is that Superintendent Roberson has “invited…secondary teachers and classified staff to engage in a formal dialogue about 9 – 12 configuration.”  In the Superintendent’s invitation, he states, “DJUSD is seriously weighing the Academic, Fiscal and Social benefits of a 9 -12 option.”  Please note the physical needs of our children are not a subject open for consideration. He then directs teachers and classified staff to “…objectively consider the following question:

‘What preparations could help facilitate a smooth 9 – 12 transition for DJUSD?’

Notice the emphasis is on HOW, not whether 9th grade will be moved.

We are informed that the Board will have to vote in May in order to install a modular building at Davis High School and meet other deadlines by the beginning of the 2014 – 2015 school calendar year.  There are only three Board meetings between now and May. Please do not be mislead into thinking that there will be plenty of time for a full and fair process about this prior to the Board putting this issue to a final vote.  If stakeholders wait until the night of the vote, their concerns will not receive the same weight they would have enjoyed if the Board had more time to consider them, and if other members of the community had time to support them.  We, the voting members of this District, have not only been left out, we have been cut out of the process entirely.  Starting Thursday night, March 7th, we urge you to attend every Board meeting.

Please help us make our voices heard.  Here are some of the things the Board will need to do in order to win back the support of concerned parents:

1.      Assure the community that the Board will not vote to move 9th grade students to DHS in 2014 -2015 at all.  If the Board is to comply with the Brown Act and its own Governance Standards, amongst other substantive and procedural due process requirements, the first thing it has to do is SLOW DOWN.

2.       Restructure its approach to this issue and follow its own Governance Standards.  We would be happy to help the Board and the District develop a process and a schedule for community involvement sufficient to create a “common vision.”  If the Board takes this approach, moving 9th grade to DHS will not be viewed as a hostile act and parents will not be as recalcitrant to step forward.  As it stands, they prefer to have an attorney stand between them and the Board, and the only thing they want to sign is a recall petition.

3.       Declare the problem.  Notify the entire DJUSD community, including parents, in writing, that the District, or special interest groups within the District as the case may be, face problems, whatever they may be, with the current configuration.  We don’t see a problem.  The Board has not announced that there is a problem.  Yet, the Board has directed staff to seek reasons for moving 9th grade to DHS.  Clearly, this is nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. The only problem we are aware of is the Board wanting cram 600 more children onto a campus that would never pass CEQA, to say the least, as it is currently configured if was being built today.

4.      Allow staff and stakeholders to openly and fairly consider ALL of the possible solutions.

5.      If, and only if, moving 9th grade to DHS is the best solution to whatever the problem may be, and would clearly comply with all laws, rules and regulations associated with such a huge action, at that point, the Board, as a representative body of the District, would be proceeding in an appropriate manner to direct the Superintendent to invite teachers to “objectively consider the following question:

‘What preparations could help facilitate a smooth 9 – 12 transition for DJUSD?’

We, the parents who have been cut out of this process, would like nothing more than to participate in a rational process, with full due process, regarding this major issue that deeply affects our children and our daily lives.  The Board could start by holding a public forum to tell us what the problem is and invite input to work together to solve the problem.

Every parent, teacher and administrator is encouraged to attend all DJUSD Board meetings until we have been heard and recognized as vital stakeholders. In addition, we encourage you to contact other parents, teachers, administrators and community members to seek their support.  You can contact the District Superintendent and individual members of the Board at the following email addresses and phone number:    Davis Joint Unified School District  (530) 757 – 5300

Superintendent Roberson                           superintendent@djusd.net

Susan Lovenburg, President                       slovenburg@djusd.net

Sheila Allen, Vice President                         sallen@djusd.net

Tim Taylor, Trustee                                         ttaylor@djusd.net

Gina Daleiden, Trustee                                  gdaleiden@djusd.net

Nancy Peterson, Trustee                              npeterson@djusd.net



[1] Board of Trustees, Davis Joint Union School District, adopted California School Boards Association principles or Professional Governance Standards.

[2] “From the Superintendent”, Davis Joint Union School District website homepage, March 6, 2013, www.djusd.net

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11 Comments

  1. wdf1

    [i] Without community awareness or input as described above, the Board directed the Superintendent to engage in “an internal input gathering process.” Whether this directive was given during open session and on the record remains unclear.[/i]

    Background article from The Enterprise:
    [quote]Where to put ninth-graders? Jr. high? High school? ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/sunday-best/where-do-ninth-graders-belong-junior-high-high-school/[/url])

    (warning: might encounter paywall)

    On Jan. 9, the Davis school board asked Superintendent Winfred Roberson and his staff to look into the possibilities for reconfiguration, and three trustees indicated a particular interest in learning more about the pros and cons of a 9-12 high school.[/quote]

  2. wdf1

    Point of comment above: The directive was given in open school board meeting, and was reported in a front page article by Jeff Hudson of the Enterprise. Open session, on the record.

  3. JustSaying

    [quote]“We are informed that our children may be placed at risk….”[/quote]What risk? That they might do some different risk-taking if they attend school with older kids (as opposed to being “exposed” to older peers in all of the other ways during their lives?)? Please share links to the research you’ve used here.

    I attended a five-year high school and turned out just fine, as you can see.

    I support your efforts to make sure the district thoroughly studies the impact of such changes before any more piecemeal closures and realignments. No one wants to lose their neighborhood schools, but this is our future as long as Davis does everything we can to keep out younger families.

    There shouldn’t be a need for the Holmes PTA to be challenging the district to follow laws and regulations.

    The whole community should be working together on education issues rather than one school (the target for closure?) to be announcing a fight.

    On the other hand, parents shouldn’t have to depend on reading a web site to find the first, small notice about a giant change proposed for our local school system. How could this work have been going on for two months without PTAs knowing about it?

    Looks like tonight’s school board meeting will be a doozy. The superintendent better start doing a better job of communicating with principals, teachers, students and the public.

  4. DavisParent1

    The way I read the letter, the writer is asking the District to include parents prior to deciding on one solution to pursue. That article was two months ago. Parents are at school and receive listserv notices from the District almost weekly. They are very involved. For something this life-altering, the District should have pulled them into the loop earlier, and often. I know I would rather have received a listserv message about this rather than the fact that Davis Parent University has another speaker, which we get listserv notices from the District about all the time. Not to take anything away from Davis Parent University. They’re great! It’s just that attending a speech won’t change our life. This does.

  5. DavisParent1

    Your point is well taken. Parents who are trying to catch up to what happened, can look to that article or go to the district’s website to view archive video.

  6. wdf1

    Seems like the date of the school board meeting is in error in the Enterprise. Video of the meeting says Jan. 10, not Jan. 9.

    Here is the video archive of the Jan. 10 School Board Meeting ([url]http://djusd.davismedia.org/content/january-10th-2013-school-board-meeting[/url]). Agenda item is V.c. Short and Long Term Fiscal Planning ([url]http://davis.csbaagendaonline.net/cgi-bin/WebObjects/davis-eAgenda.woa/wa/displayMeeting?meetingID=1319[/url]). The discussion of 9-12 configuration came about as part of a regular update on where the district stands fiscally, and what to plan for the future. The board discussion on this comes in at about 1 hour into the meeting.

    Some of the reasons the board is considering this are that it may save the district money under some configurations, and the way that 9th grade students are served, academically, is more in line with how grades 10 through 12 are run, and not so much the way grades 7 & 8 are run.

  7. Davis Progressive

    and i think parents are concerned that putting a 9th grader at the high school is a license to get bullied and grow up too fast. i understand most schools are 9-12, but this is a change for people.

    seems to me that the district is not doing a good enough job with outreach and communication, this is starting to remind me of 2008, without the crunching crisis as an excuse.

  8. hpierce

    Too much whining…. as others have said 9-12 for HS is standard… Jr HS students might benefit from having their 9th grade “peers”, whose estrogen/testosterone chemicals may be kicking in, moving on to HS.

  9. DavisParent1

    There are serious flaws with 6 – 8 middle schools. The trend is to move away from 6 – 8 middle schools. Policy makers have years of experience since “Caught In The Middle” was implemented. Removing 6th grade from elementary schools tends to just isolate 6th graders. Just from a scheduling perspective, they aren’t fully integrated into 7th / 8th, and they’re cut off from k – 5 campuses. 7th / 8th have multiple classes in an effort to develop skill keeping a planner and managing assignments from 6 to 7 disconnected classes and teachers in preparation for high school. Typically, there is no recess and no play ground. 6th graders typically have one self-contained class and may travel to a science or other specific class. They have no need to “pass” from class to class during passing periods, so the bell schedule doesn’t apply to them. If 6th grade is housed on a 7th / 8th campus, they lose recess and don’t leave the classroom during any, or at least all passing periods. They get stuck in the class all day with no break, except lunch. Teaching assignments tend to be 8th grade teachers, and then 7th/8th teachers. 6th graders just aren’t well served on a typical junior high campus, even if it’s “named” “middle school.” Children’s cognitive, social and emotional developmental stages tend to be served best by clustering pre-K and K; 1 – 3 grades; 4 – 6 grades; 7 – 9 grades; and 10 – 12 grades. Davis hasn’t capitulated to every new experimental model to come down the pike yet. It’s decision not to “follow the crowd” has served this community well. Why should it start now?

  10. DavisParent1

    correction: Teaching assignments tend to be 6th grade teachers who only teach 6th grade and have a multiple subject credential. 7th/8th teachers are assigned both 7th and 8th classes in their subject area and have single subject credentials in a specific subject matter.

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