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Wrong side of the highway
Letter To The Editor

From Theresa Robertson


To the Editor:

Abe’s saga commenced with a 2019 recommendation to close, igniting community outcry. The subsequent announcement of its salvation ultimately led to a reduction to a single session per grade, without first soliciting community input. Thus, the damage was done — the community stigma that Abe wasn’t necessary had taken root, and still remains.

The decision created inequities and inflicts strain on both staff and families. The absence of in-building, grade-level support left Abe’s staff feeling isolated and uncertain about their future. With significantly fewer students, Abe’s pupils face social disadvantages, especially during the transition to middle school. While the private school boasts similar class sizes, those families intentionally choose that experience.

A study presented to the committee tasked at researching consolidation highlighted that “fewer classrooms per grade means fewer opportunities to match students to teachers based on learning and teaching styles, to place students with compatible peers, or to separate students who don’t get along. Opportunities for teacher collaboration or mentoring at a specific grade level are also reduced.” These issues have indeed manifested at Abe.

Initially touted as a benefit, the smaller staff-to-student ratio has now become a disadvantage, putting Abe first in line when district reductions are necessary. The elimination of a dedicated counselor and gym teacher have further strained the already-fragile school community. The loss of trusted personnel and the expectation for students to adjust to part-time replacements disproportionately affect Abe’s students, burdening them with challenges unique to the southside.

Families wishing to relocate face hurdles such as the lack of housing availability, inflation, and interest rates, preventing them from doing so. They risk financial and emotional hardships simply to provide their students an environment available to families across the highway.

We are Abe. We are strong. We are family. We do absolutely amazing things with amazing staff  and students. I have absolute faith in staff’s abilities to make the best of this. They. Are. Freaking. Phenomenal. They’ll continue to exceed, despite the inequities. But they deserve, and need, more stability and appreciation.

The acceleration of the reduction to end two years early next year won’t remove the stigma plaguing Abe. I support the board and administration. I acknowledge the difficult position the state has put them in and plan to write our state representatives. I don’t have answers. I do trust the board and admin will recognize the disparities in elementary environments and work to rectify them.