As I have mentioned in some prior blogs, we have two students in the Rolla Public Schools. So, far we have been pleased with the education our sons have been receiving, and very pleased with the communications, via emails, that we receive Monday-Friday from the high school and the junior high. The emails help alert and inform the parents about school news, athletics information, band and choir information, scholarships to apply for, messages from teachers about specific classes, dates approaching for school functions, etc.
Recently, we received information that the Rolla Public Schools, beginning on April 26th, would be making phone calls throughout the district to ask citizens for their opinions about the Rolla Public Schools. Questions would be about the quality of education, communication between the district and citizens, possible technology updates, and possible building updates. Even if a household in Rolla doesn’t get the phone call, one’s opinions can be expressed by visiting Rolla Public Schools website and taking part in the Patron Survey. That is what I did and what I read on the survey gave me something to muse about pertaining to the Rolla Public Schools.
The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and the first few questions establish whether the person taking the survey has students in the Rolla Schools, or whether a citizen has no children enrolled. At no time did the survey ask for my name, age, address, etc. It is set-up to keep the survey’s responders anonymous.
After establishing that I have students enrolled, the next set of questions were about my opinion on the quality of education the Rolla Public Schools provide. Then there were a set of questions about how well the school district communicates with the citizens. The third set of questions began a bit of my musings. Technology…should the Rolla School District, in the future, raise a bond to update technologies at the schools? Then there was a list of three levels of bonds that could be raised, and how much each would affect property taxes. In this uncertain economy, I am not in favor of raising taxes for anything, so I said “not sure” about improving technologies, and “no” on bringing up a new bond. This question on “technologies” was very vague. Specific technology examples weren’t listed. Did it mean updating elevators in buildings(I am assuming there are elevators for the schools with 2 or 3 floors)? Updating the computers in the schools? Do they need updating? Smart boards for all the classrooms? Or even that radical idea of using ipads for all students in the classroom instead of textbooks? (I had heard of some private schools doing this 3 years ago in the St. Louis area.) New copier machines for the secretaries? New microwaves for the cafeteria and/or teacher lounges? Those last technologies might not be on the list of improvements, but since the category on the survey was so vague, I feel like I can list all of the technology ideas that came to my mind!
The fourth category is the one that really got my brain to musing. Should the Rolla Public Schools undertake building an auditorium for the high school? That might be a good idea. Currently the middle school’s auditorium is used for the high school’s plays. The gymnasium is used for the band’s Christmas concert and Leach Theatre on MS&T’s campus is used for the Spring concerts. So I can see an auditorium for the high school possibly happening in the future. However, the next idea got a “no” from me. Should the Rolla Public School’s undertake the running of a full-time preschool? If the district does this, a bond would need to be raised, and then the three different levels of bonds and how they would affect property taxes were listed. One option mentioned on the survey would be to build a brand new building to house this preschool. Another option was to make one of the three existing elementary schools the new preschool, and then make the other two elementary schools house only 2 grades each: elementary school A would have grades 1-2 only for the entire district, and elementary school B would have grades 3-4. Kindergarten wasn’t listed, so I assume it would be housed at the new preschool. I looked in the yellow pages of the Ft. Leonard Wood/Rolla/Lebanon phone book. For Rolla alone, there are 8 private preschools up and running and there is also HeadStart. Does the Rolla Public School district really need to get into the preschool business? If it does this, it will have a negative impact on these private preschools, many who have been up and running for quite a while and doing a great job of educating preschool aged children. The ages for this proposed preschool weren’t mentioned. Ages 2 up to kindergarten? Ages 3 up to kindergarten?
My hometown in Ohio is about the same size as Rolla and 5 years ago the school board and administration got the idea to sell off the 4 elementary schools, and build a new building near the high school that housed all of the elementary grades K-4. According to the administration, it was going to cost too much money to improve the 4 elementary buildings, so building one new building was the solution. From what I have heard, parents still don’t like having all of the elementary grades at one building because they miss having their kids at the old elementary schools that were much closer to their neighborhoods. I think that parents in Rolla won’t like a new rearranging of their elementary children by grades and schools, either. The existing elementary schools in Rolla all serve specific parts of town and to tell all of the parents who live near Wyman and Mark Twain elementary schools that in the future their first and second graders must go to Truman, which is farther away from their homes, I don’t think that is a hassle worth pursuing. I just don’t think that the Rolla Public Schools needs to get into the full-time preschool business. The phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to my mind.
Whether or not you have children enrolled in the Rolla Public Schools, and if you are a citizen of Rolla, please go to the Patron Survey on the district’s website and give them your opinions on the 4 categories on the survey. As a citizen and a voter, you need to let your opinion be heard.