Bruin Point parents question school board, show concern over 6th grade moving to Price
Bruin Point Elementary parents showed varied reactions during a Nov. 26 public meeting in which Carbon District officials discussed their plans to shuffle three grades of children in Carbon County.
For some time, board members have been mulling over the idea of moving ninth grade students to Carbon High and in turn creating middle schools which would house six, seventh and eighth graders.
For Bruin Point parents, this means adding two hours worth of travel for a day to 12 year-old sixth graders. As the meeting got started, it became clear that Sunnyside and East Carbon parents still harbor a grudge over the closing of East Carbon High School during the millennium's first decade. After promising that the elementary wouldn't close despite a number of scenarios..The conversation turned to teachers and students.
The district was represented by board members Jeff Richens and Lee McCourt. Carbon School District Superintendent Steve Carlsen was also in attendance and provided the lion's share of information to area parents. He grabbed their attention be explaining the difficult situation the district faces concerning funding.
Carlsen explained the concept of a "weighted pupil unit," or WPU; the means by which Utah legislators provide money to public schools.
"There are other monies that come, but the WPU is basically how the money is dispensed. So if you have 20 kids in a class, we get $60,000. For us $57,000 of that money goes directly to maintenance and salaries," he explained.
When asked about what Colorado gets, Carlsen shared that Utah ranks 51st or dead last, considering the other 49 states and the District of Columbia. He then used this point to demonstrate that the changes the board is reviewing are necessary to provide a quality education for Carbon County students.
"Our math scores are low," he said. "Utah's scores are bad, but our scores are even lower than that."
According to the Superintendent, the seven period A and B class schedule is also being scrutinized. The board is considering going to a five period schedule that would provide more student-teacher time and also ensure that math is a priority. The problem with this is that right now the district's language arts scores are very high and the board doesn't want to make a change which will effect that.
When the parents asked if this decision had already been made and the meetings were only for show, Carlsen ensured them that discussion over the topic is being hotly debated.
"I recommended this change, he said, talking about moving from a junior high to a middle school arrangement. "One thing I've learned is to not bet on what a school board will do however."
His reasonings focused around the idea that the benefits of providing younger children with better education, outweighed the issue of longer bus times. Carlsen reported that math instructors in the new middle school system would be exponentially more prepared to teach Bruin Point's sixth grade students.
The school district will be voting on the matter during their December session, which will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 11.