Michelle Vogel, proud Linwood E. Howe parent, stood at the podium of the school board meeting on Tuesday May 10 and said, “We are not going away. This is our chance to fight for what is important to us, and we will keep coming back.” The fact that she had a baby strapped to her chest and a small child by the hand made it clear how long-term her commitment would be.
Michelle was only one out 19 people who spoke to the school board about the possible loss of another kindergarten class at Lin Howe, and her ardor was reflected by all of them. Parents, teachers, and former students all spoke with passion about the family feeling of the school, the outstanding quality of the kindergarten program, and the need to keep it all in place for the sake of the district and the community.
While this high tide of enthusiasm and commitment for Lin Howe took up most of the meeting, the possible loss of the kindergarten was not an item on the agenda, and thus could not be resolved.
Stepping carefully around the Brown Act, several board members apologized for the legal snag, but explained that it simply could not be discussed.
Board member Patricia Seiver offered her hope that it could be done at the next meeting, saying, “We simply can’t discuss this until we have met with staff, and spoken with them. We appreciate everyone’s concerns, but it has not been decided. We can’t change our minds about a decision that we have not made.”
Board member Steve Gourley stated that he had received a number of emails in regard to the issue, and had of course, checked the voter rolls to see how many of those asking him to regard on the class issue. “Less than half of you voted. That is not how you get my attention when you are asking for my help.”
School Board President Scott Zeidman was graciously apologetic in tone, telling the crowd that “We have to agendize things, that’s how the law works. It may be three months, it may be two weeks, but we don’t know.”
Director of Pupil Services Drew Sitelo offered the current set of numbers for confirmed incoming students saying that there was an enrollment of 366 incoming kindergarteners for the district. “We have 47 siblings coming in as El Marino, “ he began, “and 97 new kindergarten students at El Rincon, 77 for La Ballona, 72 for Farragut, 66 for Lin Howe, and 34 inter-district permits.”
The current rate of enrollment would create 17.8 kindergarten classes. The expectation of more students getting enrolled before September could create as many as three more classes.
Lin Howe parent Linda Rosenberg spoke to the issue by offering that “Our best solution is to staff to current levels, and then fill immersion classes after that. This is an issue about the needs of the whole district. Cutting classes will decimate this approach. Fewer classes means fewer parents, and this affects fundraising in the worst way.”
The kindergarten decisions will not be final until classes begin again in September. In the meanwhile, there will be plenty of yellow shirts at the school board meetings.