Opinion: District proposal counterproductive

I have belonged to the Elk River community for my entire life. I attended elementary, middle school and high school here, and I am proud to remain an Elk River resident for many reasons.

One of the main reasons why I remain an active part of this community is because this is where I was raised. Elk River has always felt like home to me, and it’s where I want my children to grow up, too. It’s a community where people come together and treat you like family. It’s a place that still has that small hometown feel even though we are a growing and thriving community. It’s also a place of great schools and those great schools are primarily because of the great teachers, principals, assistants, secretaries, health clerks, custodians, media specialists and the list goes on.

Growing up, I was one of those kids who didn’t excel in math and science; in fact my parents pushed me very hard in both of those subjects, fearful of my failure. I would go into school early to work with my teachers, I’d stay late and study with friends. But I still flunked out of geometry in 10th grade. Math and science were not my strong subjects, and they never will be.

What got me through those two subjects in school? It was the other subjects that I excelled at, including art, music, physical education and health. Those subjects were what made me who I am today.  Those particular classes were my strengths, they were my confidence, and they were what made me feel whole, being that I wasn’t strong in other areas.  These teachers, including Mr. Jerry Goettsch, Mr. Chad Jerzak, and Mr. Jim Loso, impacted and inspired me to choose a career path as a small business owner of my own photography studio and graphic design business.

Today, as I watch my own children grow up, I am facing the same concerns with my own daughter that I dealt with as a child. She’s very strong in certain areas, including art, music and phy ed; however, she struggles greatly with math. She has also recently been diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability. I am concerned taking away or lessening any of the proposed delimiters for fear that my daughter will be one of those children left behind to feel like a failure.

As a parent, I will hold her up and I will do everything in my power to encourage her to do well in school; however, I am fearful that without these subjects, or with less of these subjects, that she will begin to hate school. As many of you know, it’s important for any child to exercise, and I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is for a child with ADHD. Let’s not forget about the other children with disabilities who are only really able to participate in art and music because that is all they are capable of.

I ask the School Board to reconsider these proposed changes and to table this for additional discussion and include the parents and other District 728 members. I am open-minded to change, but it’s not right that the people and taxpayers were not involved or informed of these proposed delimiters. I’d like to respectfully remind the School Board whom you are working for. My question to you is: Are you working for the administrators or are you working for the schools, teachers, parents and students of District 728?

The newspapers and media may tell you that the only concerned parties are the teachers who are directly affected; however, that’s not true. Last Monday, Jan. 6, someone created a Facebook page called Parents of Elk River School District to help create discussion and conversation regarding this very topic and to spread awareness. As of last night, there were 2,914 members engaged in conversation. On Tuesday, Jan. 7, I created an online petition asking anyone against the proposed delimiters to sign the petition asking the School Board to table this discussion. There are 679 signatures and 54 comments from parents and other concerned citizens in District 728. I feel that it’s important to show you that through 21st century technology, communication is possible and it does work. It may not be a café discussion or a vague article in the newspaper, but people will tell you how they feel and to me, allowing that should have been considered, not assumed.

I know one of the main focuses of this change was to attract new people into our city and school systems, but my question to you is this: How will you retain the current residents, parents and students who disagree with these changes? And secondly, if it is your intention to entice more students with the proposed changes, you might consider the current over-capacity classrooms across our district first. — Katie Shatusky, Elk River

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