‘Save Mission Valley’ group outlines reasons to reject school closing

The group of parents behind the “Save Mission Valley” campaign put out a press release yesterday laying out a few of the reasons they believe closing the school at the end of this year would be unjustified.

Among them:

  • the district just invested $3 million in facility improvements to Mission Valley two years ago
  • closing Mission Valley would negatively impact business at the Corinth Shops
  • moving Mission Valley’s students up Mission Road would create an overcrowded Indian Hills

The group said it has 800 signatures on a petition opposing the proposal to close Mission Valley. Read the full press release after the jump.

GRASS ROOTS CAMPAIGN TO SAVE MISSION VALLEY MIDDLE SCHOOL

The Shawnee Mission school district surprised the community on September 13th by announcing several school closings. Parents of students and potential students of the Mission Valley Middle School reacted strongly to the recommendations and have banded together to make their case as to why education quality will suffer if the board votes to act on the school closing.

Their grass roots campaign is called: “Don’t Compromise: Save Mission Valley”. A group of more than 75 parents, with expertise in a wide range of professions, have voluntarily mobilized to compile valid arguments against the proposal and publicize the issue in the community.

As of Tuesday, September 28th more than 800 people have signed the on-line petition. More than 100 people have signed in each of the last four days. The group intends to appear in force at the October 4th meeting of the school board (at Shawnee Mission East’s auditorium) to make their views heard. Their mission statement sums up their position:

Our mission is to ask the Board of Education to REJECT Proposal #10, which involves the closing of Mission Valley Middle School. We believe such a FINAL decision is unsupported and would compromise our standards of Education and Community.

A FEW OF THE MANY REASONS THAT PROPOSAL #10 SHOULD BE REJECTED INCLUDE:
1. Forecast enrollment figures for middle school students are underestimated. SMSD uses the cohort survival rate method to predict enrollment at all grade levels. Cohort estimating looks at enrollment trends from the prior three years and assumes that the trend of the last three years will continue for the long term. For predicting middle school enrollment, it would seem more logical and reliable to count the actual number of elementary school students in each grade and use those numbers to forecast future enrollment at the middle and high school level. Mission Valley enrollment has declined over the last three years. However, elementary school enrollment for schools which feed into Mission Valley is increasing.

A layman’s explanation of the cohort survival rate method: Basically it’s like trying to forecast weather based on what kind of weather we’ve had locally for the last 3 days: if it rained for the last 3 days, then surely it will rain for the next 6 days (more like 12 really, based on how far ahead in the future SMSD predictions reach). To accurately forecast weather, one has to take a bird’s eye view and look west to check out what kind of weather system is coming our way from Colorado, i.e. check out the actual cohort sizes of the students coming up in the elementary schools’ pipeline.

2. SMSD has overestimated the annual cost savings related to Proposal #10. For example, page 48 of the Superintendent’s report shows “Schedule of Savings – Mission Valley” (assuming proposal #10 is approved) it shows a savings of approximately $67,800 for a counselor. However, SMSD has confirmed in the last two weeks that they will ADD a counselor to Indian Hills. Westridge Middle School is the most comparable in size (890 student) to the projected enrollment of 825 (district projection) at Indian Hills. Westridge has one principal and two associate principals. To equalize staffing, Indian Hills will need one more associate principal and thus, SMSD cannot count $87,600 in savings for an associate principal if Mission Valley is closed. The same goes for office staff….there are 6 office staff (bookkeeper, secretary, etc.) at Westridge…but only three currently at Mission Valley and Indian Hills. Apparently, there is a need for more office staff at a larger middle school and SMSD can’t count this as savings.

3. $3 million in capital improvements, including a library expansion and renovation of the science and art facilities, were completed two years ago at Mission Valley. Why is SMSD wasting the bond money, voted on by the residents of this district, by proposing to close this school? This is only the third school year that the library has been open. One current Mission Valley student compared the new Mission Valley library to the new KCMO Plaza Library. It is state of the art, lots and lots of windows and very welcoming. The new library is a tremendous asset to the Mission Valley Middle School and its students.

4. SMSD’s capacity projections are flawed. Packing 825-850 students into Indian Hills Middle School will undermine the SMSD’s Standards of Excellence. SMSD officials state that the goal is to offer a “full complement of electives” at all middle schools. However, our research shows that the students would actually have fewer opportunities to take electives which require a custom room, such as art and industrial technology. You may be able to have an elective such as Spanish move from classroom to classroom, but you can’t put industrial technology “on a cart”. Additionally, research has shown that smaller middle schools (similar to the enrollment that Mission Valley and Indian Hills have right now) have higher academic achievement while larger middle schools, of the size proposed by SMSD, have lower academic achievement.

5. Closing a middle school and changing boundaries (move Brookwood to South High School District) will alienate patrons and families will “Choice Out” of the district. If Proposal #10, and related Proposals #1 (move Brookwood to SMS) and #3 (change Trailwood boundaries) are approved, there will be families who will chose other options for education for their children and they will leave SMSD….home schooling, private school, move to a different school district, on-line education, etc. Thus, SMSD will lose the people who have in the past been the SMSD recruiters…spreading the word to friends and co-workers to attract more students into the district from other areas.

Reference: https://www.seattlepi.com/local/340505_schools21.html

6. Closing Mission Valley would have a negative impact on area businesses, particularly the Corinth Square Shops. Lane 4 Properties, management company of the Corinth Square Shops, has approved distribution of flyers at the shopping center on the weekends of Sept. 25th and Oct. 2nd. Usually, Lane 4 prohibits flyer distribution. However, they recognize that closing a school (as well as changing boundaries for Brookwood) will result in their loyal patrons changing their daily traffic patterns and thus their shopping patterns for groceries, hardware stores, restaurants, etc. Many middle school students enjoy meeting for ice cream at Mely’s on Friday afternoons and closing Mission Valley will take away this business. Some Mission Valley students walk directly from school to Dancerz Unlimited (between Mely’s and Westlake Hardware) to attend 4:00 dance classes. How will Dancerz Unlimited be impacted if students cannot possibly make it to a 4:00 class if these students attend Indian Hills and must travel a further, time consuming distance to and from school?