Stuttgart parents upset over plan to move middle-school pupils out of Patch H.S.
June 18, 2005
STUTTGART, Germany — News that school officials would move sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders out of Patch High School before the 2006-2007 school year elicited an angry response from a group of 100 parents and teachers who gathered at the Patch High School gymnasium Thursday afternoon.
Many parents and teachers said they were upset that they were not consulted about the plan. Others said they were concerned about longer bus rides for their children and the prospect that pupils could have less access to certain courses and sports.
Under a plan completed last week, pupils in sixth through eighth grades, who mostly go to class in the high school on Patch Barracks, will move to two renovated elementary schools on Robinson Barracks and Panzer Casern. Two-thirds of the pupils will move to one end of Robinson Barracks Elementary School and one-third would move to the third floor of Boeblingen Elementary School.
In both cases, middle school children and teachers would be separated from the elementary school pupils. The agreement depends on securing about $1 million for renovations to elementary schools, said Ronald McIntire, district superintendent, who presented the plan to parents Thursday.
“We’re hearing an attitude of, ‘We really don’t care. We’ve decided this much. We thought of this plan, and now we’ll let you help with a little input,’” said Julie Lovett, whose two children will attend Patch High School next year.
Col. Steven Townsend, who has four children in base schools, followed Lovett’s remarks by questioning why parents had not received any news of the plan before this meeting.
McIntire responded: “I find it rather interesting that the military challenges their generals,” pointing out that Lt. Gen. Colby Broadwater, chief of staff for European Command headquarters, helped shape the plan.
McIntire told parents that alarmingly low grades and test scores among seventh- and eighth-graders also convinced school officials that they needed their own middle school. He said half the pupils in seventh through 12th grades had at least one D or F, and that more than one-fourth of this year’s sophomore class held a grade-point average below 2.0.
Joe Moscone, chief of staff for the 6th Area Support Group, said overcrowding in the high school also spurned the decision to put middle school children somewhere else. He said European Command officials wanted to ensure that children of contractors would have guaranteed spots in the high school after a waiting list for the school this year alarmed parents.
He also assured parents that more shuttle bus routes would be added to get pupils home and to after-school activities at Patch Barracks.
Tina Stevens, who has two children in base schools, said she did not think McIntire presented the motivation for the plan honestly.
“They want to guarantee contractors’ kids [spots],” Stevens said after the meeting. “I think parents would just prefer that they come out and say that instead of saying, ‘We’re worried about test scores.’”
Parent Larry Tannenbaum said he was concerned that the new school would not be able to offer specialized programs such as the video-production class.
“These are classes that my kids enjoy, and you don’t find a lot that they enjoy,” he said after the meeting.
Jan Lowry, a second-grade teacher whose daughter is in the eighth grade, said she understood the parents’ backlash.
“If these people had had the opportunity to know about [the plan] before, they would not have been so upset about it,” Lowry said. “[School officials] could have saved themselves a lot of headaches.”