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Written Comments from Parents

Questions and Comments Received at First Bunker/Milani Merger Planning Meetings, September 24-25:

Academic/Accountability

“What happens to test scores from separate sites? Reported separately? Joined as one?” “Only 3-6 will be testing. How will school account for scores?

Test scores will be reported separately for each site. Currently, state testing begins in grade 3, and therefore there will not be test scores reported for the TK-2 students on the Bunker campus.

 

“Will a student be prepared for the rigor at the next school? What is being done to ensure this occurs this year?”

We have two planning teams that will address articulation across the two sites to ensure a seemless and successful transition for all students: a Core Planning Team that will look at academic and enrichment programs and a Cohesion Team that will address the nuts and bolts issues that arise because of the merger.

 

“Is Milani in “school improvement” status?”

Milani is in Year 1 of Program Improvement (other schools in the district in Program Improvement are Snow Year 1, Schilling and Newark Junior High Year 3, Graham and Musick Year 4).

 

Logistics

“How do we divide the teachers of Milani and Bunker?” “Will some Bunker teachers be teaching at Milani and vice versa?”

By contract, a unified “collaborative process” will be used, in which teachers collaborate to determine who will teach which grades.  Unless an individual teacher chooses otherwise, it is safe to assume that the primary teachers (K-2) from Milani will be teaching the 2016-2017 school year at the Smith campus, and the upper grade teachers (3-6) from Bunker will be teaching the 2016-2017 school year at the Birch campus.

 

“What about having 30 minutes free day care at each campus so parents have time to drop off?”

As it stands currently, breakfast is available at each of the campuses at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the school day. Students must be eating breakfast if you choose to exercise this option. Supervision is provided by our campus monitors. To assist families with children at both sites, we have sought input about appropriate staggered start/end times.

 

“Buses?”

At this time, Newark Unified only has busing available for field trips and athletic programs which is funded through fundraising and school budgets. Walking clubs and carpools will be encouraged.

 

“What about assemblies? Site only? Joint?

For the 2015-2016 school year each site is working on their own assemblies.  Teachers and administration are in current collaboration for future planning for which programs will be developmentally appropriate for each site and or which ones might be done jointly.

 

“What about mascots? Would they be separate or the same?”

Mascots will be determined once the school name(s) is finalized. The cohesion team will  make recommendations based on feedback from staff, students, and parents.

 

 

Facilities/Accessibility/Safety

 How will the increased traffic be handled at Milani? (Already very congested.)

We are currently investigating different options to alleviate traffic congestion at both sites. NPD and SRO (School Resource Officers) have established a parking protocol for NMHS a school of 2000 students that has been positively received.  They are now working with NJHS.  Once that is completed, they will assist with the committee to assess and provide recommendations regarding Milani parking.

The reality is every school in California deals with parking issues because of the 15-30 window when all students arrive or leave their school.

 

Will there be any updates on the facilities? For example playgrounds age appropriate for the children’s ages.

We are planning, over the first years, to modify the facilities, such as playgrounds and furniture, to best meet the needs of the student groups.

 

Special Programs

Will/would after-school programs be shared? i.e. Enrichment/intervention.

It is possible that there may be times for a combined program across the two sites. That has not yet been determined and will depend on the needs of the program, the students and the community.

 

“Select enrichment and instruction programs.” Is this STEM/IB/GATE? When and how will this be implemented?

We have a Core Planning Team that will elicit input from students, staff, and community to determine interests for enrichment and instructional programs. The plan is for a select number of programs to be piloted in the 16-17 school year to see which most align the the core values, to be determined this year in collaboration with staff, students, and the community.

 

Special Day Classes

“Any options/plans for special day class?” “How do we help with the planning/brainstorming for our 2 SDC mod/severe programs?”

We are in conversation with the Director of Special Education  to determine the best scenario for the current SDC classes. Each year, the Special Education Department reassesses the entire program in terms of student grade and need to plan how to best structure the coming year. We will participate in that conversation for 16-17.

 

Culture/Social Adaptation

“Events (with working parents taken into consideration)?” “Events: Walk-a-Thon, Back to School nights, Sweetheart Dance, etc.- staggered or combined?”

This is the purpose of our Cohesion Planning Team. The team will work with teachers and parents to determine how to best structure and time each of these events so that parent with children at both sites are accommodated.

 

Is there a program in place to discuss integration/bullying/assimilation?

NUSD takes a strong stand against bullying.  Assemblies, class interaction and discussions are regular opportunities.

There will be a cohesion team formed that will deal with integration and assimilation for students.

 

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Questions/Topics of Concern

How can prospective parents or homeowners research separate sites?

There are a number of sites on which homeowners can obtain information about schools, such as Dataquest (http://data1.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/) and School Digger (http://www.schooldigger.com/go/CA/schoolrank.aspx).

 

Would love to hear the pros list of merging besides school size. Why not adjust school boundaries?

This option was considered; however, to balance attendance across the two sites, the Bunker site itself and surrounding homes would fall in the attendance area of the Milani site.

 

How is the money from the sale of Ruschin being allocated?

The Board has not yet determined how the proceeds from the sale of the Ruschin property will be allocated.

 

Confused- will there be a TK at Bunker? I have heard both yes and no.

Yes, there will be a Transitional Kindergarten program at the Bunker campus.

 

“Where is money from new buildings (housing)?” “Are there going to be additional programs at both schools from all the funds from the new homes?”

School Facility Impact Fees (commonly called Developer Fees) are accounted for in the Capital Facilities Fund, Fund 25 in the District's Financial Statements.  The fund is designed to help districts cover the impact of growth across the District in all grade levels.  Unfortunately, the fees raised do not typically cover the full cost of building onto a campus, or constructing a new campus

 

Current 5th graders are planning to attend Milani next year. RUMOR has been circulating that an application process will take place for these 5th graders to apply to attend the middle school in a special pilot program. If this is the plan WHY has this not been addressed? Parents would like to know (even if it’s an idea) in advance.

The School Board has directed staff to move forward with moving Grade 6 to the Junior High School to create a Middle School Grade 6 STEAM Academy. The current plan is to create a model STEAM classroom for parents and students to visit in the 16-17 school year, to pilot the STEAM program first with a cohort of grade 6 student, possibly 120, in the 17-18 school year, and then to fully implement the Grade 6 STEAM Academy for all Grade 6 students in the 18-19 school year. 

 

What are some things that cannot change?

Some critical things that cannot change are the number of school days, the required number of instructional minutes, and the academic calendar.

 

Will Milani have an updated website that is active so parents can get information and pertinent ideas to help my child academically?

Both the Milani and Bunker sites will provide ongoing, updated information on merger plans and progress.

 

What are the dates and time of the Cohesion Team meetings?

These are to be determined. If interested, please apply for participation on the team at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2KY7VK5.

 

Why was a track system never considered as an option for the overflow of students?

A year-round track system was considered briefly but was considered overly problematic for several reasons:  vacation times for elementary and secondary would not align creating issues for families, stress on staff who would not have permanent rooms and would need to maintain “mobile” means for all materials, and inability to align district assessment administrations with other sites in the district, among others.

 

Written comment recieved at the meeting

 

●Happy to help but these items seem really petty. I think the merger is a great idea and I’m all for it.

●This is a chance to make Bunker a developmentally appropriate campus for early childhood development.

●Keep working hard and stay focused on the kids! The parking, reading buddies and school name will ultimately not affect what happens in the classroom. Keep up the good work.

●Milani should have higher standards to ensure kids continue progressing with their education.

●We are against this merger.

●Flat out opposed to the whole idea of the split and merge. Bunker is close to home so the kids can walk home with a parent. Do not want my child crossing Central Ave. Families will be broken up. Little ones will not have their siblings there if needed. Parents would be torn between schools for helping out at the schools.

●Preferably all programs should be worked out before next school year starts.

●Single grade classes if we have more students/grade level at each site.

●School bus program.

●Continue with sports league (basketball)

●Field trips to other campus (which the child is going to attend)

●Please rebuild the Milani Child Care to state-of-the-art standards for 3rd-6th graders.

●Why not have 3-6 in current Bunker buildings and TK-2 in current Milani buildings? Pros: Bunker has 2 roundabouts for older kids- one in front and other in back.

●This is a chance to make Bunker a developmentally appropriate campus for early childhood development.

●Concerned that parents will just drop kids at Central Ave. and kids will have to walk unsupervised to school.

●Milani should be brought up the same level as Bunker; should be equipped better.

●Drop-off concern at light at Birch and Central.

●Keep special K-6 at Bunker! Please!

●Have a Special Ed specific meeting.

●Leave names the same- why spend money and lose James L. Bunker and Louis Milani?

●Limited ADA parking at Milani.

●Please share the data gathered to split the schools, share the students, publish all the questions/suggestions as official record.

●After school/Child Care

●Honors!

●Have positive opportunities for kids and parents to connect at park, or on both campuses in low-key, fun ways. Socials to mingle.

●Children and parents should get together for social events at Birch before the merge

 

Questions and Comments Received at Second Bunker/Milani Merger Planning Meetings

Are we going to get more money from the district/state to help with this merger?

Yes - the district has been and will continue to support the merger of the two school attendance areas.

 

I am concerned the teachers, particularly those at Bunker, are unprepared for the language challenges of communicating with parents.

The Bunker teachers may have fewer English learners but for many years have been serving them well. They will likely have a greater number of English learners after the merger, and they will also have a number of experienced new colleagues with whom to collaborate.

 

What will happen with PE? Hope for a minimum of two times a week.

Physical Education is required in all grades 1 to 6 for 200 minutes every 10 days. We will continue for all grades.

 

What will happen with science? Which teachers will go to which campus?

Each year, the Human Resources Department places science teachers at the elementary sites, considering number of classes, number of teacher prep periods needed, and number of students. Each year assignments are made to provide as much equity as possible. We do not anticipate any change to this process.

 

How can we make learning more engaging and cohesive so that various student learning styles are addressed and enhanced? STEAM is highly needed to help all students excel academically.

Our Merger Executive Planning Team and Extended Planning Team (School Site Councils) are working on precisely this issue. They are obtaining input from teachers and community members and will synthesize the input to make a recommendation to the Board of Education.