Whittemore planning meeting
I attended the Whittemore planning meeting on Wednesday night, along with about 75 other people. It was an informative meeting, and it was nice to see our elected representatives (including Mayor McCarthy) and school officials present.
But it's also clear that a lot of work needs to be done in two areas: traffic and temporary relocation while Whittemore is rebuilt. The superintendent basically admitted he had no idea what would happen when the main entrance anbd dropoff area is switched around to Hovey, apparently because of requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Here's some advice: bring in the traffic experts.
The other issue is where the kids will go to school while Whittemore is under construction. The city originally wanted to send them all to South Middle School, but a group of parents were adamant that South was the wrong place to send the kids, basically because there is no
outside play area. They prefered Fitch or Banks, but the problem with that is Fitch is not big enough, and Banks has a terrible parking problem already, without the addition of dozens of Whittemore parents picking up and dropping off their children. The city pointed out that changing to either school would require bussing, which would cost money, naturally -- although I had a tough time believing the $200,000 cited in the News Tribune. The suggestion by some parents to break up the kids into two groups -- older kids to South, younger kids to somewhere else -- was shot down by the Whittemore principal, who
insists that all the kids must remain together, and she doesn't want her special ed and art teachers running back and forth between two schools.
Well, clearly something has to give. I also hope that the city doesn't
assume the most shrill complainers at the meeting are representative of the other Whittemore parents and neighbors. As usual, everyone wants what's best for their own kids or own situation, but everyone should consider what other people think, too.
Also, one very important constituency was completely absent from the meeting -- the Hispanic parents, whose kids form a large proportion of the Whittemore student body. I would like to suggest that the city
councillors invite them next time, and make arrangements for someone to interpret for them. Not all of them can drive, and I am sure they would have issues with kids being sent to an alternate location across the city.