Jan. 28, 2019 – West Bend, WI – Despite the heavy snow and increasing sub-zero temperatures, the West Bend School Board of Education met tonight with one of the action items on the agenda being the possible elimination of Pathways Charter School.
According to documentation posted on the School District site a recommendation had been made for Pathways Charter School to be eliminated.
Tonight, the West Bend School Board approved that recommendation in a 5-1 vote with board member Ken Schmidt being the only no vote. Kurt Rebholz was not in attendance at tonight’s meeting.
Chelsea Doman Davis, a WBSD parent, spoke in support of Pathways Charter School at tonight’s meeting, “I am speaking to you again about Pathways. This is the third time you’ve heard from me on this subject, but as a child advocate, I am used to speaking up when others are uncomfortable to do so. I realize at this point I am unlikely to sway opinions but after last week’s work session, I felt a few more things needed to be more said. I’m a little more off the cuff than usual so forgive me if I ramble or stumble.
“First of all, as a parent I was a little disappointed that the information shared in last week’s work session wasn’t requested a year ago when the extension was granted. This work session was even a last-minute decision at the end of the meeting two weeks ago. You had a year to decide and were waiting until the last minute to try to understand what Pathways is about. With the weather last week, I’m not sure if any of you were able to go to Pathways or if you’ve taken the opportunity to do so before. I think only a few of you have. The best way to understand Pathways is to go to the Showcase Nights and talk to the students and see what they’re working on.
“The other point I wanted to make is that there was a lot of discussion about test results. In my education classes as a university undergrad, I took an entire semester-long course about validity and reliability of assessments. That would be 2 hours a week for 16 weeks discussing results and tests. Last week you spent an hour discussing test results that are inarguably NOT valid and NOT reliable based on too few data points. Again, there is so much more to a school than test scores.
“There are 60 families being immediately affected by your decision this evening, one way or another. These kids are out of the box thinkers. They are hands-on learners. They may have struggled for years before finding Pathways and they see this school as their ticket to graduation from high school and to go on to further education and careers. I’m completely serious when I say your decision this evening will change the lives of these 60 families, as well as many other families in the district.
“Last week, all of us wore yellow scarves to the work meeting. Those scarves are in honor of National School Choice Week. These kids need a choice. Fair does not mean the same for each kid and these kids need choices.”
Diana Swillinger, Pathways Charter School Governance Council, commented,”The board decision not to renew its partnership with Pathways is extremely disappointing. While many words from the administration offered promises for a similar education and environment at East and West High Schools, the examples given of how Pathways students would be transitioned and integrated showed a lack of understanding of the experience and autonomy students currently have. We can hope, for the students’ sakes that administrators will gain a significantly greater understanding in the coming weeks and months in order to not fail them.
“Pathways is a unique and intense educational opportunity that will not be duplicated within the current system. Students, parents and staff are grieving a great loss.”