Changes to Edgewood Schools draw ire of some parents during board meeting

Grade reconfiguration plan will result in longer bus rides for some, was given little input from public or teachers, they say.

Changes coming to schools in the Edgewood district have some school parents upset not only about a grade reconfiguration plan but also how it was developed.

Monday evening’s Edgewood Board of Education meeting saw some parents complain during a public meeting to the district’s governing board and Superintendent Russ Fussnecker.

Under the plan, the five-school district, which enrolls about 4,000 students, will reconfigure the grade levels offered at three schools starting next school year.

The plan was unveiled to Edgewood teachers at the end of March, surprising some along with some school parents and at least one school board member.

School building grade reconfigurations are among the biggest changes a school district can perform on school families.

Fussnecker has contended the plan, which would alter grades at Babeck Early Childhood Center, Edgewood Elementary and Seven Mile Elementary, was discussed publicly for a year.

He maintains reassigning grade levels to specific buildings enables Edgewood to better use resources and facilities while adding to the largely rural district’s sense of community

But school parent Molly Yeager said after the board meeting “I left tonight upset.”

“I think it became apparent tonight that these decisions are being made by the (school district) administration without input from the public or teachers,” said Yeager.

“They offered no timeline on when this was vetted by the public or by teachers- instead they had each member of the superintendent’s cabinet present their findings on why they think it will be a beneficial change.”

“It seems the district is choosing to ignore sections of their strategic plan about open and honest communication and working together with the community,” she said.

Some other school parents complained about the coming changes forcing their elementary age children into longer bus rides to farther away school buildings.

Edgewood resident Michael Pressler posted on a Trenton Facebook page he was upset the board meeting was not live-streamed and district officials said those in the audience who had not sought prior permission were not allowed to film the meeting.

“It’s despicable and I’m completely flabbergasted by the superintendent. Talking about needing transparency (and) here we are in the middle of a pandemic and the meeting isn’t streamed and not allowed to be broadcast. They need a reminder that they work for us,” said Pressler.

School district resident Daniela Heston said, “even if this move can be shown to be beneficial to the community, the way it was done was completely unprofessional and should be placed on hold until the board has a clear plan on all the included logistics.”

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