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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Get Involved in Your Schools
I found this on an e-mail list and feel that it is worth passing along to you who are concerned. This is the best way to get vital news out to the public.
These decisions have been made by the school board. No one likes change, but it is necessary in our district for us to proceed with change and progress.
Many Wirt students, special needs students included, come from the Horace Mann area. Wirt students are not exclusively from the 1st District now.
The themed high schools will launch in the fall of 2009.
At Emerson, the student has one class/school day in their major. The rest of the school day is academic work as usual. Emerson is the only Gary high school which made AYP again this year. Emerson's ISTEP scores are the highest in Gary and are competitve with other schools in NWIN. Much of the arts activity is done after school, again requiring heightened parental and student involvement. The performance aspect of Emerson alone is community outreach. The auditorium at Wirt is beautiful, and it will be fully utilized by Emerson. Emerson hasn't had a place of its own in which to perform for years.
West Side will be taking on middle school students as will each of the four themed schools. (Emerson is already 6-12 because of its charter. It's ready-made for this configuration and is ready and anxious to expand.) This all is happening this fall.
The 1st District is not sacrificing its school. Emerson has always been a 1st District school. As it has been for years now, all the Gary high schools have been schools of choice. The kids are bussed all over the city. I have some of the same students I taught at Wirt now at West Side. At least now the movement will make some sense.

Subject: get involved in your schools


First District parents are being told that a student does not have to be a prodigy to attend Emerson. That may be true, but when I went to the Indiana Department of Education website, I did not find any teacher for students with special needs at Emerson.

Not counting Learning Disabled and those with Emotional Disabilities, there are 296 special needs students at Wirt. Where will the special needs students from the 1st District go?

Another concern is where will the students who have no desire to major in the arts go? There is not going to be a new themed schools until 2010 at the earliest, if ever.

I do agree with Nora that it takes parental and community involvement for any school to succeed. I also believe that if this community puts as much effort into making its local schools work as it does for other issues, any school in the 1st District will be successful.

Here are a few more questions:
Will the education of the children in the 1st District be advanced when the majority of them are transferred to Roosevelt, Lew Wallace or West Side? Will the majority of children in the 1st District have the same opportunity to succeed as the students at Banneker and Emerson? Should the board wait until all the schools are themed schools before closing Wirt? Why is the board asking the 1st District to sacrifice its school when West Side is a larger facility and has a state of the art auditorium? Should the school district be subsidizing the Gary Theater Guild with our taxes? Should the students have to compete with the theater guild for West Side High School's auditorium? Should the board be spending money on reconfiguring the high schools or fixing leaky roofs?

Ask questions. Get involved. Here is the link to the school board committee meetings.
http://ping.fm/Gze60

Check out this link to see the number of students at Emerson and the cost per pupil:
http://ping.fm/0Rpat
You will have to scroll down to the bottom of this page to find this information,

Then check out this link to see class sizes and courses offered at Emerson:
http://ping.fm/CYRvp

Now click on this link to see the number of students and cost per student for Wirt High School. http://ping.fm/8yz6W
Again, you will have to go to the bottom of the page to find this information.

Then check out this link for class sizes and courses offered.
http://ping.fm/zsglz
There are 14 special needs teachers at Wirt.

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