At our last PTA meeting, the board and members in attendance discussed the request of Lum DAC to support their stance and write the BOE on their behalf. The possible closure of Lum that the district is proposing would have detrimental effects citywide, but especially is harmful for Wood and our neighborhood. We voted to support the Lum District Advisory Committee (DAC), and ask the Board of Education (BOE) to perform due diligence before making a decision. Please read the letter below.
Dear AUSD Board of Education Members and Superintendent McPhetridge,
At our PTA meeting May 11, we discussed the detrimental effects the closure of Lum would have on our middle school, and voted to support Lum in their efforts to seek more information and time to do that. Wood’s enrollment would be jeopardized by losing a feeder school. If Lum students are dispersed, they may choose to attend middle schools with others who are zoned for Lincoln, or opt to attend Junior Jets or charters with their new classmates who live closer to those schools. If children are forced to attend schools farther away, the increased car traffic in the neighborhood will also be a safety concern for our community.
Additionally, we would lose the special relationship that our schools share. So many of our students perform their community service hours at Lum events, and continue to build relationships with Lum staff by volunteering there. Lum has consistently produced a Robotics team since the program began at Wood and the close proximity of the schools makes it easy for students to attend.
We have also heard from the engineers and outside experts contacted by Lum DAC and feel their opinions hold merit. The rush to decision is raising suspicion, and producing negative feelings. With the promise of retaining neighborhood schools during the recent parcel tax, many are feeling betrayed and will not support the district in future asks. These families’ negative feelings of mistrust, powerlessness and declining willingness to participate and engage will move forward with them and overflow into other areas of their school experience. Some families do not make the distinction between the district, school sites, and PTA. The importance of family engagement in schools is increasingly recognized, and included in the new California Schools dashboard. An open and collaborative process benefits us all.
We support the Lum community in asking that the school board base their recommendation on the future of Lum School on a more complete package of evidence and the input of community members within and outside of Lum school. Also, in collaboration with the Lum’s District Advisory Committee, we request the addition of the following “3rd option” to vote on at the May 23rd meeting:
- Defer any vote to relocate students and close Lum for a period of 12 months (to May 2018);
- Officially establish a District Advisory Committee (DAC);
- Have that DAC gather further information, data, and analysis, including an assessment of the buildings at Lum in light of California Building Codes, standard Structural Performance Category (SPC) ratings, and other relative risk assessment standards, coordinating and consulting with applicable government agencies, local experts, members of the community, and other relevant sources;
- Have the DAC issue a report and recommendations to the Board by or before May 2018.
This is an important decision that can have profound community impacts. We urge the board to take the time necessary to make a fully informed decision that prioritizes student and staff safety.
(names omitted here for brevity)
Wood Middle PTA and community members