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Letter: Don’t divide schools in Nuevas Fronteras’ interest

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School District 833 is facing many issues: recent resignations of three high-ranking employees; families upset about transportation changes; and the district facing deficit spending next year despite the 2013 passage of two tax levies. 

In “A tale of two schools in one district” (March 26 Bulletin), School Board member Jim Gelbmann fans the flames of discontent by asserting that the district is favoring Liberty Ridge Elementary over Crestview Elementary due to socio-economic differences. Using free/reduced lunch statistics, Gelbmann engaged the Democratic Party’s favorite divisive technique: class warfare.

Gelbmann failed to mention that Crestview Elementary (288 students) and Nuevas Fronteras Spanish Immersion (366 students) schools share a building, and that Nuevas Fronteras has similar free/reduced lunch stats to Liberty Ridge: only 11 percent of Nuevas Fronteras’ students receive free/reduced lunches. Additionally, according to District 833’s 2013 annual financial report, Liberty Ridge (952 students) is closer to capacity (1040) than Crestview (654/780). Gelbmann seems to have cherry-picked his statistics in an attempt to pit two community schools against each other.

Considering that Nuevas Fronteras has attempted a school grab twice since 2011, (most recently the 2013 Woodbury Elementary/Crosswinds controversy), Gelbmann’s argument of district discrimination against Crestview is weak. This new argument seems to be intended to benefit Nuevas Fronteras’ want: a new building for the choice program, since efforts to grab neighborhood schools have been thwarted by the neighborhood families.

Since Nuevas Fronteras is a choice program, the “overcrowding” issue could be solved by allowing fewer students to enroll in the choice program (or eliminating the program altogether). However, dressing the issue in a disguise meant to cause class warfare and division in a district that already faces multiple issues is disingenuous and wrong.  Shame on you, board member Gelbmann, for attempting to incite division and anger between school communities in order to pursue your real interest: giving Nuevas Fronteras its own school building.

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