Feedback & Next Steps: Maplewood PTA’s 9/25 Community Meeting

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Dear Maplewood Community,

On the evening of September 25, the Maplewood PTA hosted a community building event for Maplewood families aligned with our vision and goals as it relates to AISD’s  Proposed School Changes. The event was facilitated by an outside consultant from CD&P and had three high level objectives: 

  1. Help members of the Maplewood community connect, share views, and clarify our shared values as a school in this district. 
  2. Discuss proposed school changes and how they might affect all social groups- gain different perspectives, discuss the advantages and challenges of consolidation, and so on. 
  3. Develop some recommended steps for the PTA to pursue based on the common values of the broader community. 

Below is a high level summary of the results.  If you would like to take a deeper dive, feel free to email president@maplewoodelementary.com to discuss.  One hundred and twenty-eight community members (parents, students, faculty and staff) joined us on that night, but there was a lack of significant representation of black and brown families and SPED families among participants.

Creating community connection and building trust with all families at Maplewood is a priority for us this year, and we will continue this effort no matter what the outcome is for the district’s proposed school changes.  

As you all know by now, we believe sharing information and giving authentic feedback is critical for active community participation.  We are living that value by sharing this information in the hopes it can be integrated into many other perspectives you all might have and want to organize around to support our kids.   

Summary: 

Community Connection: The timing of the district news was not ideal.  New families to our community were shaken by the possibility of change only two and a half weeks after school started.   Space was created where family members could hear perspectives other than their own from each other beyond their limited networks. From the consultant report:

We found participants at the meeting shared a wide array of feelings and perspectives about their beloved school.  As we delineated during the initial debrief at the meeting, we heard love of the school; confusion over its near and long-term future, fear of the unknown and of what may come next; distrust or skepticism about the District’s ability to deliver what’s best for Maplewood and its families; and a desire for equity and shared sacrifice or commitment across students and families in the entire District.

Post testimonials regarding the event leaned towards feeling more socially connected and a better acceptance of all perspectives.  In particular, some families expressed that it helped them with their personal grieving. We know building community is critical to whatever outcome the district imposes on the community.  The more connected we are the more likely we can ensure participation now and in the future.

Advantages and Challenges of Consolidation: The advantages and challenges of a consolidation also varied greatly among participants.  Below are common themes.

  • Advantages
    • Newer facility
    • Potential of future academic rigor and programming
    • Possible opportunity to integrate schools  
  • Challenges Themes 
    • Focus on educational needs and programming
      • “Need details of educational programming, curriculum, teachers, ratios, facilities, technology, resources, etc”
    • Concern about staff and teacher retention
      • “Teachers at Maplewood are a strong foundation”
    • Lack of district integrity 
      • “Secrecy and lack of inclusion to community’s response. News was traumatic.”
    • Lack of understanding “Why Maplewood”
      • “Thoughts on plan: Isn’t Maplewood a model of success?”
    • Question district wide equity
      • “More equity in programming- East vs West”
    • Concern about transition plan and timeline
      • “Transition Time-3 Years! On a sinking ship!”
    • Maplewood Advocacy
      • “Fight for Neighborhood School”
    • Concern about impact on Campbell
      • “What happens to Campbell kids’ pride? – Title 1 funding/Loss of rooms/Loss of personality”
    • Facilities use and future land use
      • “Charters, high rises – what happens to this real estate can impact all – business.”
    • More data and Information
      • “Distrust of the process. (Lack of data)”
    • Mobility
      • “Location – Ease of Access, Safe Neighborhood”
    • Questions if the district is open to other options
      • “Is AISD open to other ideas for MW/Campbell consolidation?” 

Recommended Steps: Our PTA operates based on shared power and leadership with all members of the school community (whether they be a part of thePTA or not). We are providing this Community Building summary to encourage you to organize and advocate for our school and for all students in our district. We support project leadership by whomever wants to take a stand. We have compiled some helpful data sets and contacts to help you move to action (email us at president@maplewoodelementary.com if you want to add more or would like to review the full data set). Notes from our meeting with trustees have been posted to the school website, and we have sent a letter to the district with a list of demands developed by the equity committee and other committee members. Some of These demands are aligned with some themes that came out of the community meeting.  If you are interested in advocating for Maplewood to stay open, a group of leaders have taken that view on and their website, Save Maplewood is active. 

In addition to continuing to work on these demands posted in the letter to the district, we are dedicated to staying focused on our three priorities:  

  • Academic enhancement–we will continue to support academic programming and tutoring through the Read Naturally program, supporting our librarian, paying for grade level grants, supplies for library and maker space, and programming associated with the Children Learning Initiatives.  How and what kids learn at school is a top priority that we don’t want disrupted during this process. 
  • Community building to ensure a foundation is in place whatever the outcome.  We are working diligently to reach and represent all communities at Maplewood and inform them about proposed school changes. This takes time and one on one effort to build trust and connections. If Campbell is open to building relationships now as well, we will work together to connect.
  • Communications– knowing what is happening and how to contribute at Maplewood is essential to parent participation.  We will continue to maintain the website, online directory, newsletter, social media and other channels throughout this year. If the proposal is adopted, we will communicate regarding the planned  school changes and support participation. Transparency and feedback loops will be put into place to support community members.  

Right now, our kids need to learn, play and feel safe TODAY. Our faculty and staff need to be nurtured and loved NOW.  If this plan moves forward we know we can rise up to a place where education for students now and in the future will remain our highest priority.   

Kindest regards,
Maplewood Elementary School PTA

Maplewood’s PTA Mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. We do this by supporting the students, families, and staff of Maplewood Elementary through academic enhancement initiatives, community building, increasing communication, and fundraising for the school.

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