After following the schools of innovation competition I decided to send my then emerging 2nd grader and kindergartener to the newly incepted Catalpa school at Maupin. I could have left the 2nd grader at Lincoln and likely obtained a seat for the kindergartener, as I knew these spots (at Lincoln) were highly coveted, but I was greatly inspired by the Catalpa model and felt it would be even more beneficial for my children. I was mostly right. While the school faced inherent challenges through the transition, my children’s confidence and creativity was blossoming. Then without any warning, the media informed us over Thanksgiving break that first year, only three months in, that the the school was going to be held accountable for prior year’s test scores, which meant without a massive improvement Maupin would enter “priority status.” In response, administration decided to revert back to traditional curriculum for grades 3-5. This combined with the addition of several teachers, thus some students being moved to new classes, caused several magnet families to leave. Once test scores for the school year came out, to no surprise, the children who were already struggling and just underwent a major transition with new staff and new models, were incredibly low.
Somehow, despite former talk of an alternate time line and waived scores, this prompted an audit by KDE. Because of this, the SBDM (through the administration’s push) decided to remove Waldorf language from the school’s mission and vision statement. At that time, administration insisted that in practice, nothing would change. It was just an attempt to please the highly anticipated auditors.
When returning to the school for the 16-17 school year, things also felt different. While the hallways were more peaceful and several classes were able to loop with their teachers, there were also numerous classrooms that no longer had the homey Waldorf feel they did the prior year. It appeared that the encouragement and support for Waldorf methods had dropped off to some degree, despite increasing magnet enrollment and parent involvement. Even still, talks continued as if the magnet program was not under threat. I kept being told that they had preemptively done everything the auditors could ask for, such as new administration, new staff, removing the waldorf language along with the alternate timeline.
Then last week, SBDM apparently met to discuss the budget and discussions were had that JCPS had put the “add-on” budget for Maupin on hold which meant funding for many of the items that make Maupin unique, such as the magnet coordinator, a special area teacher (which is presumed to be handwork, an integral part of Waldorf), retired teachers, and extended day were not being included in budget talks at this time. Yesterday Mr. Leffert held a last minute Q&A which provided probably more questions than answers, but in short said that all of this is pending the audit results which will be released at an undetermined time.
Meanwhile, potential incoming families had a sticker applied to their acceptance letter, stating “We want to inform you that Maupin Elementary is currently designated as a priority school by the Kentucky Department of Education. Based on our priority status, changes may occur that impact the magnet program for the 2017-2018 school year,” but up until yesterday, currently enrolled families had no clue of the pending potentials. Here it is well past the enrollment period, and we remain in the dark about what this means for our children.
Jessica Deis, RN, BSN