This petition has been created in response to the Council Rock School District's Capital Planning Committee's proposal to close Wrightstown Elementary School. We realize that this is only a proposal but we the community members of Council Rock School District want to communicate our displeasure and concern regarding this suggestion from the start of the decision making process. The neighboring district of Neshaminy just voted to close three schools so we feel only further motivated to share our great displeasure with the board immediately. We understand that the district is in a pickle trying to match costs with revenue, but we implore you to consider other options. Closing up to two schools and redistricting students will inevitably make one or more of the remaining schools larger. It is well documented that small schools are best for children, teachers, and communities.
Council Rock School district attracts people to the area based on its reputation for academic excellence and its small town school appeal. Wrightstown Elementary is tied for the second best performing elementary school in the district and seems to be the only elementary school within the district to have received a Blue Ribbon distinction. On websites such as greatschools.org which allow for reviews, parents most often rate Wrightstown Elementary as five stars citing its small size as one of its many winning attributes.
The benefits of small schools have been widely studied and documented. Below are just a few of the many studies and papers that support the notion of small school size.
In 2004, Harvard University published a paper which found that a growing body of evidence points to the size of schools as a significant determining factor in academic achievement. Large schools are often far less successful at educating students than small schools.
In the summer of 2001, the Association for Childhood Education International published a study which concluded that student achievement, persistence, and performance were stronger in small schools, and standardized test scores improved markedly. The benefits of small schools also extended to adults. Parents appeared to be satisfied; teachers in small schools were more likely to report that they collaborated freely with colleagues, engaged more regularly in professional development activities, built coherent educational programs for students across grades and disciplines, created focused learning environments, and, in general, were more satisfied with their work.
The National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities published a booklet in 2007 which concluded that smaller schools on average can provide a safer place for students, a more challenging environment, higher achievement, higher graduation rates, fewer discipline problems, and much greater satisfaction for families, students and teachers.
In 2013, the University of Arkansas published a study which found significant negative effects of large schools on student math and reading achievement of -.043 and -.023 standard deviation respectively, compared to the average sized school.
The National Center for Educational Statistics' report, Violence and Discipline Problems in US Public Schools: 1996-97, concluded that while 38 percent of small schools reported any incidents, 60 percent of medium sized schools and 89 percent of large schools reported criminal incidents.
The National Education Association attributes raised student achievement, increased attendance, elevated teacher satisfaction and improved school climates to smaller school size on its website.
But small doesn't have to mean more costly. Northwest Educational Research Laboratory published a study in January of 2002 which found that while it may be true that in small schools some costs increase because they are spread out over fewer students, research suggests that large schools require added tiers of administration, more security people and additional maintenance and operations personnel. The required disciplinary and other administrative personnel of large schools are so costly that, past a certain point, per pupil cost goes up-and keeps going up as the school gets larger.
In addition, transportation costs including fuel, buses, bus drivers, and maintenance would also be higher if Council Rock School District consolidated.
In conclusion we want to emphasize that we know there is no easy solution but we ask you to take closing our school off the table.
Sources listed in the order mentioned above:
Hylden, Jordan. (May 2005) What's So Big About Small Schools? The Case for Small Schools: Nationwide and in North Dakota. The Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University.
Kieff, Judith. (Summer 2001) Small Schools: Great Strides. A study of new small schools in Chicago. Association for Childhood Education International.
Nathan, Joe & Febey, Karen. (2001) Smaller, Safer, Saner Successful Schools. National Clearninghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, D.C.
Egalite, Anna Jacob & Kisida, Brian. (March 2013) The Impact of School Size on Student Achievement: Evidence from Four States. Department of Education Reform. University of Arkansas.
Heaviside, Sheila et al. (March 1998) Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public Schools: 1996-97. National Center for Education Statistics.
Lawrence, Barbara Kent, et al. (2002) Dollars and Sense: The Cost Effectiveness of Small Schools. Knowledge Works Foundation.