Strong leadership and staff work hard at a challenging middle school : Sutherland for Schools blog
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Strong leadership and staff work hard at a challenging middle school

by Ann Sutherland on 12/01/18

It isn't easy managing a 1000-student middle school with a 96% minority enrollment, especially when the district mandates an 8-period day, which means kids are in the halls 9 times, and "grades" the administration based on keeping office referrals and suspensions as low as possible.

Wedgwood Middle School staff member Robert Burrell managed a major attempt to provide special help to the 90 most challenging students in 2016-17.  The regular teachers loved their more manageable classrooms even though they were larger, but having even 15 challenging students in a classrooms was too hard on their teachers and a new plan was needed.

Burrell's promotion to principal for the 17-18 year was supported by Wedgwood people as well as the central office.  His support of the student body is unassailable, but he is not afraid to suspend students.  Staffing changes have also produced stronger classroom management and fewer referrals.

But it's hard to avoid the problems caused by the switch to an 8-period day and the proposed loss of 6.5 teachers (while racking up a surplus of $23 million.

I taught thirty years ago at C. M. Goethe, Sacramento, California's toughest middle school.  But its 450-student enrollment posed challenges which were child's play compared to Wedgwood MS's thirty years later with 1000 students.


Comments (3)

1. CJMMGS said on 12/1/18 - 06:36PM
Ann, can you get and post here the underlying metrics used to allocate Teacher FTEs for core classes. For non-core classes if they exist. Both by site. Or is the reductions of teachers solely political in nature. Political defined as the reductions are minimal by those who complain the loudest...or who has the less poverty in the schools. If FWISD is really transparent, they should be able to provide the logic for calculating FTEs.
2. CJMMGS said on 12/2/18 - 07:28AM
I will provide a list of questions in a "scenario to solve". This method will expose the board members to be who cannot link the academics with Finance. Those who cannot solve a realistic scenario from an achievement/academic perspective linked to the underlying cost should not be school board members. The problem now Ann is you are the only one on the school board who can link the underlying finance/cost to the academics. The CFO who is an attorney can't even do it. I could provide the questions and under the current culture it will be political so as to avoid exposing ignorance. I find it funny that FWISD calls itself a transparent district. They don't get to make that decision...the community does.
3. Curiouser said on 12/17/18 - 09:55PM
This wouldn’t be such an issue if the district didn’t minimize class time to 45 minutes per day. Why would the planners think that even less time in core classes wouldn’t be detrimental? Do middle schoolers really need four electives?

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