Meeting set on controversial plan to divide Stuttgart middle school
Stars and Stripes March 22, 2006
STUTTGART, Germany — A public meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday to discuss a controversial plan to split up Stuttgart’s middle school.
The Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe’s plan calls for next year’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders to be divided into two groups based on where they live.
Some would attend an existing school at Panzer Casern south of Stuttgart; others would go to school at Robinson Barracks on the north side. Seventh- and eighth-graders currently attend Patch High School at Patch Barracks.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Patch Community Club on Patch Barracks.
Some parents and teachers of middle school pupils are upset that the plan would require long bus commutes and could limit the children’s access to advanced classes and extracurricular activities available at Patch High School.
Critics also contend that the middle schoolers would simply be lumped together with the elementary pupils at the existing elementary schools at Panzer and Robinson.
But Duane Werner, vice principal of Stuttgart schools and coordinator of the middle school plan, said the middle and elementary schools, though under the same roofs, would be separate.
“There are going to be two schools,” Werner said. “The two principals have experience with middle schools. I’m confident they will carry through with the middle school model.”
Werner said the plan was installed due to the poor academic results of many middle school pupils. He said that during the 2004-2005 school year, between 32 percent and 43 percent of the pupils were bringing home D’s or F’s on their report cards. At that rate, Werner said, between 13 percent and 15 percent of the seventh- and eighth-graders would not graduate from high school on time.
Werner also said plans are being made for the middle school pupils to have the same access they currently have to clubs, bands, sports teams and advanced classes in foreign languages and math.
Cindy Tannenbaum, a parent of a son who will be going into the seventh grade, said the plan was never discussed with parents.
“Parents were never given the opportunity to have a voice in this,” Tannenbaum said. “They hit us with it on the last day of school last year. It caught so many of us off guard.”
A number of teachers, who asked that their names not be used for fear of reprisals from school administrators, said they were not consulted as well.
“There was no discussion,” said one teacher.
“It was already a done deal,” said another. “It’s a travesty. It’s just very discouraging.
“Here (at the high school), it’s a matter of pulling the (middle school) students up. At the elementary schools, they’ll get pulled down.”
Werner said that it would be the responsibility of administrators of the new middle schools, like with any school, to provide for the classroom and extracurricular needs of their pupils.
“I’m convinced we are going to see academic success,” Werner said.
Meeting details ...
What: Public meeting to discuss a plan to establish middle schools at Panzer Casern and Robinson Barracks in Stuttgart.
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Patch Community Club, Patch Barracks
Hosts: Officials from Stuttgart schools and Army Garrison Stuttgart