Let’s not kid ourselves, Pine View has a serious communication problem. Rather than referring to parents as “crazy,” teachers as “disgruntled,” and students as “not truly gifted,” let’s get in front of this problem and find a solution.
The severity of the communication issues is noted in the 2014-2015 climate survey, the 2015-2016 climate survey (hot off the press, see links below), Shelby Webb’s Sarasota Herald Tribune article, Mr. Cantees’ speech at May 3, 2016 School Board meeting where he notes the change of Pine View to a magnet school (literally overnight with no public input on December 14, 2015, the construction of a 2-3 story building on campus that as of May 6, Dr. Covert, “is not aware that a decision has been made regarding the size or use of that instructional space as of this time” and a vague mention of Pine View adopting a new technical program, Project Lead the Way (PLTW), which also according to Dr. Covert, “does not have a fully developed timeline yet.”
Where is the stakeholder input in these planning strategies?
It’s clear the teachers feel they are not heard. The same can be said of students and parents.
When did it become okay for Pine View to dismiss student’s and parent’s concerns with “We are a school of choice, if you don’t agree with our policies, you can go to your district school?”
Does anyone in administration understand how truly offensive that is?
Master teachers are retiring early, rather than staying to get their full retirement. It is not an overstatement to say that trust is at its weakest point and possibly cannot be fixed. However, we all should try. The legacy of this school is bigger than all of us and we owe it to the possibilities this school brings to gifted children, to make it strong again.
How can this happen?
We recommend a series of conversations between teachers, students, parents and administration where no one is fearful of reprisal. The first round should just be the administration listening. The discussions should be organized to allow for everyone to have their say. The conversations should not be controlled with strict time frames, agendas and planted commenters.
Once the conversations have been completed, administration should take the time to review and process all the input. Then we should do it again until we feel our voices are heard. United, the Pine View community (students, administration, teachers, and parents) can finish the conversation with the school board.
Dr. Covert succeeded a popular principal who had been at Pine View for 25 years. It is always very difficult to transition in those circumstances. Our hope is that Dr. Covert will listen to the voices of students, teachers, and parents rather than making decisions that appear to be unilateral.
We need to have these conversations, because quite frankly, Pine View is bigger than any one administration. It was founded to serve gifted children and we must ensure it continues as it was intended, to serve gifted children so they can be successful. It is a myth to think gifted children without support and the right resources will succeed.
2016 Pine View Climate Survey Links: