To the St. Johns County School Board

Posted

As a parent, your choices affect not just those parents I advocate for, they impact my family directly as well. As stated on my website (www.denvercook.com), I am concerned for the “academic success, social resilience and emotional strength” of our kids as similarly stated in an email we received last Wednesday from Superintendent Tim Forson to “provide educational, social and emotional stability during transition years.”

On Tuesday you passed new attendance zoning with little fan-fair. You also sat silent and seeded your authority to the superintendent and allowed him to modify long-standing policy related to grandfathering with no public comment. His “recommendation” became a “management decision” even as you stated it was related to attendance zoning.

This change was a reactionary decision designed to reduce public criticism of the attendance rezoning process, highlights the failures of this process and represents politics at its worse. Had you partnered with parents and the community in 2016 these challenges would have been addressed well before any proposals were presented to the public in September.

We teach kids in science that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This “management decision” will have a positive effect on current sixth graders and a negative effect on current fourth to fifth graders. This conversely diminishes the educational and social-emotional opportunities for the current fourth to fifth grade students who will attend these new schools. This reduces the capacity for providing resources (computers, equipment, etc.) to these new schools through PTO/SAC efforts. Combined, these impacts will diminish the staff and parents’ ability to provide for the long-term success of these students.

In essence, this “management decision” removed educational opportunity from a larger and younger population of students than it stabilized. When we should be focused on developing every student’s potential, you have allowed the superintendent to act so you don’t have to go on the record and make decisions.

After spending four hours meeting face-to-face with parents at Starbucks, plus an afternoon and evening of phone calls, I offer solutions. I proposed you reverse this reactionary “management decision” and evaluate the feasibility of converting Valley Ridge and New K-8 sites into a middle school and an elementary school. This would address the population challenges, enhance middle school opportunity and stabilize PTO/SAC efforts across the community.

You were not elected to make a choice that picks winners and losers for short-term political gains nor to enhance the district’s financial position. You were elected to ensure EVERY child could achieve their full potential.

I challenge you, the current board, to finally take bold action and partner with my community to ensure the success of our children. We CAN do better, and OUR children deserve better.

Denver Cook

Ponte Vedra

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