Plan to change grade levels has Edgewood parents, 1 board member upset

A plan announced by Edgewood Schools Superintendent that would shuffle grade levels at three schools in August has left some parents - and at least one school board member - upset. Some parents claim they had no input into the plan. (File Photo\Journal-News)
A plan announced by Edgewood Schools Superintendent that would shuffle grade levels at three schools in August has left some parents - and at least one school board member - upset. Some parents claim they had no input into the plan. (File Photo\Journal-News)

A plan to switch school building grade levels in the Edgewood school system has some parents complaining – along with at least school board member – that they were left out of the decision-making process.

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.

But when district Superintendent Russ Fussnecker sent an email to school parents last Wednesday evening, some were surprised about the plan and its ramifications.

“They are trying to do this under the radar and I’m beyond angry,” said Edgewood parent Molly Yeager of the plan. “Never once was the idea of moving the students around in the existing school buildings presented to us. This has not been a transparent plan.”

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In an email sent to another disgruntled school parent and obtained by the Journal-News, Edgewood Board of Education Vice President Amy Ashcraft appears to share some parents’ befuddlement over the superintendent’s plan announcement.

School building grade reconfigurations are among the biggest changes a school district can perform on school families. Typically, the plans are discussed far in advance and the school board oversees the often-complicated process that impacts school families.

But Ashcraft, who did not respond to emails seeking her comments Monday, said in the email she learned of the district’s plan on March 31 when some teachers told her.

“As a board member I was not aware of this redistricting plan until the teachers received their email late Wednesday afternoon. I am terribly frustrated by all of this and have many questions myself. I understand all of your questions and frustrations and will be asking many questions in the coming days,” Ashcraft wrote.

But two days later, on April 2, Fussnecker released another email to Edgewood staffers and community members, in which he contends the plan, which would alter grades at Babeck Early Childhood Center, Edgewood Elementary and Seven Mile Elementary, was discussed publicly for a year.

“The District Strategic Planning Committee was made up of hundreds of people from the community, certified and classified staff, board members, business partners, etc. The committee met for an entire year, resulting in the adoption of the plan by the board,” wrote Fussnecker.

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“While I know that some in our community are disappointed to hear about these changes, our board firmly believes that the decision aligns with our mission statement and will enhance the educational program and experience for ALL of our Edgewood City School District students and community.”

Fussnecker said the grade reconfigurations will bring students from across the district together by grade level, adding to a “sense of community.”

Moreover, he said “reassigning grade levels to specific buildings enables us to utilize our resources and facilities more efficiently.”

“I know that change can be difficult for all of us. This change will certainly present challenges in the short term and result in a stronger district and community in the future,” he said.

But school parent Alisha Wilson said “taxpayers are the ones that pay for the schools, so the taxpayers should have input in these kinds of big decisions. And the fact that I found out about it from my 4th grader when I picked him up from school is even worse.”

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