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Large WCES 5th grade still concern for parents

January 01, 2020
Saying things haven't improved since they asked in October that a fifth-grade class with 33 students at West Crawford County Elementary School be split, a pair of parents were back in front of the Crawford County Community School Corp. Board of Trustees on Dec. 23.

The parents — Michelle Crecelius and Toni Eastridge — told the board, meeting in regular session at the administration building near Marengo, that students aren't being prepared academically to move up to the middle school next year.

"I feel like we are completely failing that class," Crecelius said, noting her twin daughters have received only two grades since Oct. 25.

"How is that preparing them for sixth grade?" she asked.

Superintendent Mike Key said the administration believed it had resolved the situation by having two aides, including one who was a former veteran teacher in the school system, support a new teacher who was going to be placed in the classroom. The plan for those aides, as explained by WCES Principal Amanda Wright at the October meeting, was for them to take groups of students for math and reading throughout the day.

"We felt like that was a good situation," Key said.

Crecelius said students haven't been split into groups as much as she understood they would be and that the math instruction her daughters have been receiving hasn't been up to par.

Eastridge said she, too, is concerned that it appears the plan that was outlined in October changed almost immediately.

"The only reason why I didn't come back the next school board meeting wasn't because I'm still not concerned about this topic; it's just that we keep trying the next thing, (and) I want to give it a try before I come back here and voice my concerns," she said.

Eastridge, who believes a lot of the issues in the classroom stem from behavioral problems, said she is disappointed that the teacher who was brought in just a few weeks ago was abruptly let go following an incident in the classroom.

"I challenge you, I would beg you guys, somebody go to that school, go to that classroom and spend some time in there and see what these individuals are having to deal with," she said.

Key didn't go into particulars, but said, from talking with Wright and others, the teacher's removal was warranted. Asked about the situation after the meeting, he added that the teacher had been working as a substitute and the plan had been to hire him on a permanent basis at that night's meeting.

"Unfortunately, we've had to make a change, and we have discussed moving forward with a newer person who has some experience, and we hope in that direction many of these things that you have brought out," Key told Eastridge and Crecelius.

Key didn't name the teacher since the position wasn't on the evening's agenda but said the person is a former Crawford County educator "who illustrated academic success."

School trustee Wayne Carothers asked if it would be fair to have Wright, after that person has been in the classroom for a week or two, make a recommendation to the board what, if anything, needs to be done moving forward.

"I would be comfortable with that," Key said.

Several board members said they wanted to make sure the problems that have plagued the class don't persist.

"Every week we put this off is another week these kids are not going to be prepared for (middle school)," school trustee Larry Bye said.

Asked by the board's president, Dennis Talley, if Crecelius and Eastridge were comfortable with seeing how the new teacher does, Crecelius said she wasn't.

"I've kind of lost my patience because, at this point, I'm thinking, where can I take my two daughters to where they're going to get an education? Where are they going to go in the county to get what they're actually sent to school for?" she said.

Eastridge said she also isn't satisfied but understands that the matter is in the board's hands.

Talley said he understands their concerns as parents.

"I've been in the same seat you're in right now, so I know what you're going through," he said.

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