Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sad Day...

(If you are reading this blog for the first time, I REALLY want you to read what MELISSA (Fort) wrote. This is STILL her blog. I try to post things that SHE might post. Please go to the archives and read some of HER writing. It was a journal of her journey with breast cancer, but it was ALSO a forum for issues that she was passionate about.
Today, I am posting a letter that I wrote the other morning (Thursday, 3 a.m. to be exact), because I KNOW she would have posted something about this. Melissa LOVED Moraine Meadows - she LOVED Fairmont High School...she loved that I LOVED my job.

On Wednesday of this week, we had a staff meeting after school. When the Superintendent, Board President and a Board Member walked into the meeting, we KNEW it wasn't good. But we had NO IDEA how bad it was going to be. Basically, it went like this... "We have bad news. We are closing this building at the end of this year.".....SEVEN DAYS NOTICE. That's it.

So, needless to say, I haven't slept well...not at all the first night, and up at 3 a.m. the next and 4 a.m. this morning. So MANY things are going through my mind right now, and I am TIRED of not speaking up for what I think. I KNOW Melissa would speak up, and it's time I did too. So I wrote this letter, which I am hoping to read at a School Board Meeting. I'm pretty sure that NOTHING is going to change,
but if we don't speak up for what we TRULY believe in, then why believe in ANYTHING?

so here goes:

Mr. Trent, Board Members, Dr. Schoenlein,

I have been part of the Moraine Meadows family since 1991. In the past 20 years, I have seen the impact Moraine Meadows has had on thousands of families in the Moraine community.

Moraine Meadows was ALWAYS a huge financial asset to Kettering City Schools. For almost 45 years, our TINY building brought in MILLIONS of dollars to the Kettering City Schools through the GM Plant.

I find it interesting that Kettering City Schools so easily accepted the "windfall" of having our school in such a profitable location, and now, in light of a recent levy failure, they found it so easy to close a building in a community that literally kept taxes at a low, affordable rate for the entire City of Kettering for almost 50 years. A community that has ALREADY been devastated by the blow of losing the GM Plant, the Delphi Plant, Splash Moraine, and now possibly the Moraine Civic Center (not to mention 100's of jobs.)

Moraine Meadows is not "JUST A BUILDING" to the families that live in Moraine. It was the ONE place left in the community that families could count on.

-Do you realize that many of our families do not have reliable transportation (to be able to participate and get involved in the "new" school(s)and that a move of even 4 miles is going to be a hardship?

-Do you REALLY know the make-up of the children that attend Moraine Meadows? I KNOW you know the numbers. But sometimes it's NOT ABOUT numbers. What exactly is the "BOTTOM LINE"? Is it money? Is it the kids? I think the answer is obvious. But the answer SHOULD be THE KIDS.

In a district that is top heavy with administration and teachers with 30+ years, ONE retirement in each building along with the elimination of a few administrative positions would have saved the district FAR MORE than the $500,000 that you are saving by closing an ENTIRE school. This affects not only 150 students, but their families, the staff and their families and the entire Moraine community.
I would also like for you to enumerate the $500,000 we are saving. All but four of our staff have enough seniority to move into other positions. The four that won't include two aides and two new teachers (who are paid through Title funds).

Did you know that several of the staff members of Moraine Meadows take an educational trip every summer? We take this trip so we can share the information with our students (kind of a Professional Development trip!). Most of our students NEVER have these experiences. For most of them, WE have to build their background knowledge!

Did you know that one of our staff members was diagnosed with cancer in October? Our entire staff participated in the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati in May to raise money for a charity of her choice. Do you know what her choice was? To purchase books for the library for ALL of the students of Moraine Meadows!

I speak not only as part of the staff and FAMILY of Moraine Meadows, but as a CITIZEN of Kettering also. As you all know, both of my children attended and graduated from Kettering Schools. They both went on to graduate from college and have successful careers. We had always believed that Kettering had the best interest of the children at heart. We have been active in Kettering City Schools for over 25 years. Donny coaches football for Kettering, and I am the Librarian, Literacy Lab Coordinator, Intramurals Director and Volunteer Coordinator at Moraine Meadows.

Did you know that we have a Business Partnership with a Moraine business? The company is Lastar. Our son Nick was instrumental in bringing Moraine Meadows and Lastar together. In fact, the CEO is a Fairmont graduate, so he was very interested in forming this partnership and getting involved with the Moraine community! This year alone we had almost 20 volunteers from Lastar tutoring and mentoring our students (Nick was also one of the tutors). They also had a clothing drive for our families, and were in the planning stages of helping us financially in the future. Did you know THAT? I know Julie knew - and we appreciate Julie for all the years she tutored at Moraine Meadows.

Our family commitment to the Kettering Schools includes a scholarship in our daughter Melissa's honor for a graduating senior from Fairmont.

I know that closing Moraine Meadows has been "on the table" ever since the closing of the GM Plant. Which again, I find interesting. I reiterate that the money that came from the MORAINE GM PLANT supported the KETTERING COMMUNITY for almost 50 years, and now Moraine is in a crisis and Kettering isn't supporting THEIR community!

My issue today is the way all this happened. It would have been considerate to talk to our staff, maybe a month or so (even better, at the beginning of the year) and forewarned us. It would have been nice to have some input into making this transition as smooth as possible for our students AND families.

What you did was DROP A BOMBSHELL. ONE WEEK before school was out and DEVASTATED not only our students and staff, but the families and the entire Moraine community as well.

When my daughter was sick, I would have done (and DID) anything to save her. I feel the same way about these 150 students. But you never gave us a voice.

I have been grieving the loss of my daughter for a little over a year. BUT I have gotten out of bed EVERY SINGLE DAY and gone to work because I LOVE THESE KIDS.

Now I am grieving the loss of 150 kids.

Pam Fortener (and Jackie Geary, Josh Stucky, Rodney Carver, Sharon Tangeman, Bobbie Middleton)

So there it is. I am debating as to whether I should send it to the Dayton Daily News, but there could be some repercussions from administration I'm afraid. As a staff member, we are not supposed to speak out. But I am also a CITIZEN of Kettering and I feel that I am entitled to my opinion. And it is obviously a passionate opinion.

(all of these pictures were posted on the blog a couple of years ago - I just thought it was appropriate to RE-post them now...)

My second home for 20 years....

Her favorite book in elementary school (she was SO excited to find it in my library!)

Pictures from her favorite book

Fort on a visit to the Moraine Meadows library...resting before a treatment!


Anonymous said...

Very well stated Pam. Thank you for being our spokesperson. We love Moraine Meadows School...full of wonderful children, wonderful families, and a staff who truly cares.


Anonymous said...

America the Story of Us would never have been a series if Passion wasn't expressed and acted upon. Keeep building on your Passion Pam. Hugs, Sue

Anonymous said...

PHENOMENAL letter, Pam! I truly think you should share whatever way you are comfortable with. If nothing else, you at least get your powerful and truthful opinions out in the open...and maybe, just maybe, someone important will really hear you. I love you!

Anonymous said...

As a former resident of Kettering, and a graduate of FHS, AND a daughter of a retired KCS teacher, I say share that letter every place possible. I couldn't agree with you more. I think you hit the nail on the head when you questioned the money and GM Plant, etc. They have to think everyone is a bunch of idiots if they thought we wouldn't see through that.

Your family has always been a huge supporter of the KCS system and I think it would mean something to hear what you think!

Kara (Yagley) Baker

Susie Q said...

This is absolutely beautiful Pam and YES! I think this must be sent to the paper!
I have had all of you in prayers and thought and heart. This is such a painful thing...