Well, we’ve talked about it, wrote about, talked some more about it, fought about it, but it is done.
That “it” would be our whole grade sharing agreement that was voted through last night in both districts. Our district voted on a 4 – 1 margin, the other district 7 – 0. Change is here, finally, after 8 months of public and private clashes of wills, all sorts of talk, wild rumors with just a hint of truth, and it’s done.
I’m not sure how I feel about all this. Next year will be the first in our family’s where a daughter is going to school a building where I’m not teaching. That’s scary for me, for her, for all of us. She’s excited though because of the wide range of course that will be open to her, things that will definitely push her, but ultimately help her as she prepares for college and beyond. My youngest is excited because it’s a whole new friend group that opening up for her. She’s made friends in the other school through 4-H and swimming, so she’s happy that suddenly they aren’t just summer friends anymore. Me, this will be just “different”. I’ve loved watching my students growing up in front of me, from elementary, to middle school, and suddenly graduating. While I can still see that somewhat, it won’t be right there. And I’m not sure of my coaching status as suddenly we’ll have coach’s without jobs.
I’ll openly admit, this will be hard for all. Teachers in new subject areas, kids on buses, parents having to deal with the fact their son or daughter is not going to graduate from the same school they did. But, in the end, this is what’s best for kids. My students who aren’t the typical “college bound” student will have industrial tech opportunities we just couldn’t offer. My college bound kids will have course offerings that are wide and which will help them prepare for whatever university they are going to. For those at risk kids, more resources will be available to help them.
Is this a perfect solution? Far from it. I remember quite clearly two or three years ago our business manager saying that we were reaching a tipping point, a place where more revenue was going out then would be coming in, and that we needed to prepare for that. While I think in some cases we did, I don’t think we prepared our public for what would happen when that point was reached. This outcome was going to happen, it’s just what small schools are going to be forced to do as jobs move away. I think we could have softened the blow somewhat for those who’s lives focus around this place.
My other problem we’ve missed so many of the “last time” events. Yes, this will be a time of grieving for a lot of people. That last football game, the last concert, a last play, all of those need to be celebrated in that context. It’s a sad time no doubt, but yet, we need to rejoice in the fact that yes, we can still put on one heck of a show and that our talented students are moving to a place with other talented students!
Do I envy those involved in these decisions? Absolutely not. They were voted on to represent the community, and never once thought they’d have to voting on something as monumental as this. I’m proud of our superintendent and board members for always trying to stay above the fray as this is a thankless job to begin with, and you add something as emotionally charged as this on top of it, wow. One can only imagine the sleepless nights all of these people had coming to terms with the decision they were about to make.
Change is here, there’s no doubt about that. Our choice now as teachers, students, parents, and community members do we accept it with open arms, doing the good work for kids we’ve always done or do we fight it, poisoning ourselves, both communities of something good that could benefit so many people? It’s always a choice.