Two weeks ago the parents at Parkway Elementary were informed that the state of Maryland will no longer be providing our children with the bare minimum teaching staff. The official explanation blames a perfect storm of new budget reallocations conflicting with older staffing formulas. Our small school, already spread thin now with 12 teachers, will be rendered deficient when only nine teachers remain employed next year. This means that half of our six grade levels (K-5) will be left with only one teacher. These individuals are projected to be swamped by class sizes grossly over the accepted average with 34-37 students per room. Their counterparts at larger schools around the state will be asked to manage something closer to 21 pupils each. So far, the only thing more ludicrous has been their proposed alternative to even the class sizes by putting children of different ages together and imposing on what is left of our teaching staff, to instruct multiple curriculums simultaneously.

As the group of concerned parents grew larger, our first course of action was to contact the FCPS administration to make them aware of this anomaly and plead for a swift resolution. We were surprised to learn they already knew about the situation. It seems that not only does the chain of responsible administrators know about this nonsensical oversight, but they are more than willing to look the other way, assuring us in polite unison that the remaining staff will “make it work.”

None of us are willing to accept that answer. We aren’t asking for special accommodation. We are, however, demanding the minimum. The minimum because 37 desks in one room isn’t safe, much less conducive to learning. The minimum because we once boasted the enrichment of these children and now we risk their education entirely. Our teachers deserve better. Our children need more. When the budget was properly “allocated” 12 teachers was the accepted minimum. We plan to advocate for Parkway until its leadership realizes a staffing minimum can’t be variable just because the budget might be.

We write today because we aren’t interested in any more canned response emails. We don’t need placation in any measure. We need results. The community needs to be made aware of the erosion threatening the core of our education system. We cannot reconcile this plan to establish our youngest minds in an environment of neglect. Someone who values re-election needs to stand up and make this right.

Going forward, we invite the community to join us in the movement to right this wrong. We plan to attend the Board of Education meetings en masse until action is taken. We also welcome any and all allies to join us May 30 at 4 p.m. in Baker Park for our March for the Minimum. We will gather with the students of Parkway to collect letters for members of the BoE asking, in their own words, for the minimum number of adults needed to staff their building safely. Please join us to celebrate our school and fight for its future success.

The Resolute

Parents of Parkway Elementary

(4) comments

MD1756

How about you give up your income tax deductions and credits to per for those positions? How about pushing back on public pre-k "education" which is really just a replacement for those who choose to put their children in day care. I certainly pay more than enough taxes to educate children I don't have. If you want more, then pay for your choice to have children.

DickD

Did you educate yourself?

MD1756

No, and that's not the issue. I made it fine without the public paying for pre-k for me. I studied hard earned useful college degrees (B.S. in ChemE and MBA concentrating in management science and finance), saved early and often to be able to retire early all without the benefit of public pre-k. Additionally, since ceteris paribus, I am taxed more to provide education for children than parents are, I'm asking parents pay at least the same in income taxes as I do (give up their income tax deductions and tax credits for having children if they really want more spent on their children's education. Finally, it is irresponsible to expand a service when the state and local governments in Maryland are falling far short for maintaining existing and needed improvements to infrastructure such as the Frederick WWTP. With the WaPo article of how many seniors are skipping classes and yet still graduating, I believe expanding pre-k is just subsidizing the costs of having children and that only helps people have more children ( a want not a need) which makes our fight against climate change that much more difficult.

SportEd82

The issue at Parkway has nothing to do with expanding pre-K. It is related to the County cutting 25% of the teaching staff at Parkway. Additionally, as we look for solutions with the BOE, we are discovering the Frederick is ranked 23rd out of 26 counties in funding for education.

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