Unveiled on Oct. 1, Supt. Stacy Scott says his Project LEAP initiative is the best solution to deal with Framingham's overcrowded elementary schools. The project calls for opening the town's ninth elementary school at the current King administration building and moving the fifth grade students from two of the town's eight elementary schools to Fuller Middle School.
In just one day, the parents collected more than 40 signatures. The petition calls for school administration to find "another solution to dealing with the increase in student population in Framingham."
In the petition, parents cite the following concerns:
- There will no longer be consistency amongst the schools in Framingham. Amongst the eight elementary schools, six of them will be K-5 and only two will be K-4. At the middle school level, Cameron Middle School and Walsh Middle School will remain 6-8 and Fuller Middle will be the only 5-8 school in the district.
- Fuller Middle School enrollment will increase by 150-200 students, an over 33 percent increase. This will necessitate the hiring of additional administrative, teaching and support staff. It will also require purchasing new equipment, library books and other potentially unforeseen resources. It is unclear as to where the funds for these will come from.
- According to a report on the Framingham Public School website, Fuller Middle School has “significant structural and systems issues which require major renovation initiatives if the school is to remain in use.”
- No McCarthy or Brophy teachers were involved in the planning process of this proposal. Parents were also not included. It is uncertain whether the current fifth teachers at McCarthy and Brophy will move, or be willing to move, to Fuller.
The group also plans to have parents speak out against the plan at every School Committee meeting, until other alternatives are considered.
At last week's School Committee meeting at the Memorial Building, parents packed the Blumer Community room and a handful spoke out against the plan.
Parent Mark McClennan told the School Committee he has "strong concerns" over the proposed Brophy-McCarthy proposed plan to move fifth graders to the middle school.
He said he had "financial, safety, security and emotional concerns."
(Editor's Note: Attached to this report is a video of his statement before the School Committee.)
As an elected Town Meeting member he said he "fully understands" there are overcrowding issues, but that this is not the right plan.
McClennan questioned the financial details of the plan. He also sits on the Town Meeting's Ways & Means committee which does review the school department's budget.
McClennan said the plan was "forced choice" and that even the author of the plan (Scott) realizes that fifth graders should not be in middle school, as he has said this is just a 5-year temporary solution.
Since Scott unveiled his LEAP project, he has attended meetings at both elementary schools for Q&A sessions and has begun hosting teas at Fuller Middle School. The next tea is Nov. 4.
Brophy parent Heidi McIndoo also spoke at the School Committee meeting. She said she spoke on behalf of a group of Brophy and McCarthy parents.
"As you know from your recent parent meetings, there are many concerns on a variety of issues regarding this proposal. Those concerns have led many of us to think of other possible solutions that may be far less disruptive to our school communities," said McIndoo. "We would like to briefly describe our suggestions of alternative short term solutions that could be implemented while the Fuller/Farley construction to create the K-8 school is happening. These potential solutions could be less disruptive now and also prevent the future disruption of returning the 5th grade to Brophy and McCarthy, as was stated in the presented plan."
After speaking, the parents stayed in the audience to listen to a STEAM presentation by Framingham Schools Director of Educational Operations Sonia Diaz. They left shortly after 9 p.m.
Just after 9:30 p.m. Scott gave his superintendent's report and started the report by saying he wished the parents in the audience had stayed longer as he wanted to address some of their concerns about the LEAP project.
For the next 20 minutes, he one by one said each of the ideas suggested by parents would not work and that this proposal is the only option the district really has unless it chose to redistrict the entire town.