Dear Socrates Academy Parents:
In its January meeting, the Curriculum Committee (CC) discussed the merits of a possible addition to the existing K-8 classes. The impetus of this discussion came from a series of conversations across meetings about the challenges that the school and teachers face with the need to admit new students in Middle school. Further motivation came from the fact that, in spite of a long waiting list in elementary grades, the school has not been able to fill all the middle school classes to capacity, forgoing a significant amount of financial support from the state and counties.
Therefore, the stated goal for the proposed expansion is to have the middle school at full capacity; a middle school that would one day be filled entirely with students who have attended K-5 at Socrates Academy. This would keep consistent rigor in all subject areas and especially in the Greek language curriculum as students enter 6th-8th grades. Currently, many students take their very first year of Greek language in 6th or later grades, experiencing many difficulties and also challenging teachers as a result of the great variability in background with the language. The proposed expansion would allow a more systematic and consistent application of our curricula in order to achieve our academic goals. In addition to rigor in academics, having home-grown students throughout the K-8, would also strengthen the school culture and allow for consistent expectations in other areas that the school would like to emphasize, such as multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion, a bullying-free school, etc.
Upon the recommendation of the CC, the topic was brought up for discussion at the February meeting of the Board of Directors (BOD). The initial recommendation of the CC was for the BOD to investigate the addition of a Kindergarten and possibly a 1st Grade class in the 2019-2020 academic year, and to roll that increase through the elementary and middle school grades in subsequent years. The BOD did not make a decision at that meeting but asked the Administration to work together with members of the CC in order to gather information on costs, benefits, needs, logistics, and any other issues related to such an expansion and to present them at a special BOD meeting on Wednesday, February 27, 2019.
The CC and the Administration have investigated what it would take to implement the proposal. With input from the teachers, a variety of needs have been identified, including the need for additional support staff, associates, desks, chairs, technology licenses, teacher laptops, student technology devices, classrooms, potential movement of grade levels, stipends for adding additional students to grade books, parking spaces, cafeteria space, recess equipment, playground space, etc. Various ways to address these needs and the associated costs were identified. This analysis of benefits, costs, and concerns was presented at the Special BOD Meeting on February 27th. At the beginning of this meeting, several parents addressed the Board on the matter. In the end, the Board decided to proceed with the expansion.
Following that meeting, a small number of parents present at the meeting complained regarding the decision as well as about the failure of the school to publicize the meeting more broadly. We have been in contact with the Office of Charter Schools at the Department of Public Instruction and we would like to assure everyone that we are following their guidance and will ensure that all state laws regarding this matter are followed properly. Out of an abundance of caution, the matter of the expansion will be voted again at the next regular Board meeting.
Thank you and all the best.
For the Board of Directors
Larry Peroulas, President