I am writing this letter in reaction to an article published in your paper on April 30. The title was “A Matter of Principals” by Linda Lutton. This article is with regard to Senate Bill 652, “Vallas versus the LSCs.”
In this article an LSC teacher representative at Stowe elementary school describes horrific conditions as reasons not to renew the former principal’s contract. There is documented evidence over the last eight years that contradicts her remarks.
The LSC teacher representative at Stowe elementary, Lidia Franco, interpreted that the Stowe LSC did not renew the formal principal’s contract for the following reasons: lack of progress of the school, closing of the school library, special-education classes were conducted in the boiler room, and the difficult time given to teachers who had to work at the school.
As the former principal of the school I feel that I need to clarify the inaccuracies given by Lidia Franco.
(1) The students had made continued progress in reading and math as per the published last eight years of ITBS scores.
(2) The school had a 94.5 percent attendance rate. The attendance rate was commendable given the large student enrollment, 1,500 elementary students.
(3) Stowe school was a level A school. Level A schools are schools that have shown improvement.
(4) State grant awarded for $30,000, for after-school social center and homework tutoring and intramural sports.
(5) Stowe had won a Region 2 CSI $10,000 grant for staff development. The CSI design team teacher members were congratulated for their commitment, dedication, and teamwork in writing the grant proposal.
(6) As a result of school and community efforts the school was awarded $1.2 million for the capital-improvement renovations. This was thanks to parents, students, and the community partner, Blocks Together. Special thanks to the Parent Patrol.
(7) Parent Patrol received an award from the Coalition for Streets Intervention. The Parent Patrol was also highlighted on Channel 66 on January 16, 1998, as an exemplary program other schools could duplicate.
(8) T1 lines were installed providing access to the Internet and global technology. Every student at Stowe school had access to a computer, including the preschool students.
(9) There was a technology plan within CPS and state Board of Education requirements.
(10) Education programs that served parents and community members, a bilingual parents’ resource library, and many more programs including the implementation of “Raising Children for an Inclusive Tomorrow” program sponsored by the National Organization of Christians and Jews.
(11) As per the enclosed annual report the school had over 25 school-community partnerships to support teaching and learning.
The school library was in need of repair and renovation. Therefore, it was temporarily closed. It was to be reopened using the American Association of School Librarians position statement using Flexible Scheduling. It would be an integrated media philosophy design and an open schedule would be maintained. Classes would not be scheduled in the library media center to provide teacher release or preparation time so that students and teachers would be able to visit the center throughout the day to review information sources, to read for pleasure, and to meet and work with other students and teachers.
No students and/or staff are allowed to walk through the boiler rooms in any schools. It is against board policy. There were large classrooms in the lower level of the schools as is the case in many old school buildings. The same classrooms are now used at the school to instruct students.
A plan for serving students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment was completed for the 1998-1999 school year and presented to the LSC.
Teachers left the school for many reasons. Some took advantage of retirement plans.
It is very gratifying to me to have had the experience of working as the Stowe school principal for eight years. I was evaluated by the LSC and the regional officer and on both evaluations received an Exceeds-Performance rating using the five education-based factors.
While I was principal at Stowe I was given the impression that I was working with committed, caring LSC members. For the most part they were honest, fair, and thorough and demonstrated that they truly cared about the students and the school’s progress. There was always mutual respect. The LSC never expressed concerns or complaints verbally or in writing.
However, Lidia Franco’s inaccurate statements a year later are offensive and seem to be personal attacks. The horrific inaccuracies presented by Mrs. Franco never existed. No one would tolerate that. No professional LSC and/or school system or citizen would tolerate such conditions in any school.
I am proud to be a public servant who has been and is very dedicated to the teaching profession and to students and the community. I would like to stress “fairness and accountability for principals.”
It would be prudent on your part to verify the veracity of allegations such as these leveled by Mrs. Franco prior to printing them.
Blanca A. Trevino