Combining Seward Schools

Kyrsten Johnson-Gray, Staff Writer

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At the beginning of this semester, I decided to write an article on the schedule, and provide information about what might happen with it next school year. You guys took the poll, voted for the modified 8-block to stay, and Mr. Walker took that into consideration for next year’s schedule.

While it was decided the 8-block schedule will stay, the budget crisis put everyone in a scare. Over the past few months, there has been discussion about the plan for the middle school and the students.

With the talk of budget cuts and the middle school closing, there was a discussion of the 6th grade moving to the elementary school, and the 7th and 8th grade moving up to the high school. This is not going to happen, not this coming school year at least.

The only way for the middle school to close down would be if the budget was cut by 25%. The middle school will stay open, and all three grades will stay there.

A plan was proposed by the district that Mr. Walker would become regional principal of both the Seward High and Middle schools, with the position of a “Behavioral Specialist” opening up.

I attended the Site-based Council meeting on Thursday May 9th, where the members voted to accept the proposed plan. Now if the proposal goes through all the way, then the following would occur:
1. Mr. Walker would become principal of middle and high schools;
2. Al Plan would become behavioral specialist;
3. a counseling position would open;
4. non-tenured teachers would be given another contract; and
5. most importantly, it would potentially allow Seward students more opportunities for classes.

If Al Plan does become the behavioral specialist, then he would be the full-time body at the middle school, as well as, the activities director for both the middle and high schools. Mr. Walker would be principal of both schools, and would be the full time body at the high school, but the two would be accessible to both campuses when needed.

Two things a principal can do that the behavioral specialist cannot are suspend a student and evaluate teachers. For example, if a student were sent to his office, he could assess the situation, contact parents, assign detention or suggest the number of days for suspension.

After the meeting, I met with Mr. Walker who fully supports the regional principal proposal. Walker explained to me that over the past several years Seward High School has had the same budget, but each year there are expenses that increase: teachers’ annual salaries, fluctuating gas prices, health care costs, etc. Because of these, when on a flat line budget, it is almost like a $1.5 million cut to pay for these expenses.

With all things considered, what matters most to our principal? “I’m all about student empowerment” is one statement Walker has repeated to me. He has also emphasized that the “regional principal matters, and non-tenured teachers matter.”

Mr. Walker cares about the students and teachers in all three Seward schools, and he wants to hear the student input. The site-based council is also willing to hear the student input. Seward students have a voice, and there are community members who want to hear our ideas.