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Letter: Setting record straight on misquote in school newsletter 

letter to the editor

To the editor, 

– I was recently misquoted in Dr. Dubost’s Directly Speaking Newsletter summarizing the school board meeting held on Dec. 12, 2023. Dr. Dubost captured my public comment as, “Tracy Dauterman objected to my recent comments regarding Georgia Brown being the site with the most pressing facility needs.”

That is not what I said. What I said was, “Dr. Dubost was recently quoted in a New Times article saying the Georgia Brown Dual Immersion (DI) program has suffered the most during his tenure due to “political squabbles.” I beg to differ and I take great offense to being labeled “extremist” or “hateful” for asking for reasonable considerations to be made for our highest need students when evaluating a possible school closure.”

The condition of the Georgia Brown facility at 36th Street is run down and in desperate need of attention. I think everyone agrees on that.
To expand upon my statement, the students and staff of the Georgia Brown DI program are not in danger of being split up and never have been. The Winifred Pifer students are.

Winifred Pifer is the most walkable campus in our district. Some of the teachers and support staff live in the nearby neighborhood too. The loss of this neighborhood school will create hardships for many of the families it currently serves. As of the 2022-2023 school year, over 72% of the students enrolled at Winifred Pifer were considered socioeconomically disadvantaged and the number has only increased since.

Staff at Pifer have worked diligently to engage families and build trust, especially amongst the families needing the most support. That trust will be lost if this neighborhood school is taken away. The teachers and staff are extremely worried about the impacts losing this school would have on students, as evidenced by their comments at the Nov. 2, 2023, District Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting. Neighborhood schools are at least equally as important as magnet schools.

Dorian Baker accurately summarized the public sentiment expressed during the Special Meeting held on August 7, 2023, at the board meeting held the following day. Her perception was that there is great support for retaining a neighborhood school and little support for moving the DI program to Winifred Pifer.

Despite these facts, Winifred Pifer is the only elementary school still under consideration for takeover by Georgia Brown. Winifred Pifer looks large on paper, only because it has 23 stick-built classrooms + 9 portables installed on campus, of varying ages and usefulness. I’d argue that some portables are no longer suitable for use as classrooms but as I was told by another DAC member, “that isn’t your decision, is it.” Are we seriously considering moving students from one campus with dilapidated portables to another with similarly dilapidated portables? Is this really a good long-term solution?

The full recommendations from the district advisory committee will be presented at the school board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, but you can view the most recent and final DAC meeting on the school district’s YouTube account now if you wish.

The top two recommendations were to rebuild the 36th Street campus or to move the DI program to Lewis Middle School, however, Flamson Middle School and Pifer Elementary are included as alternative solutions should the first two not be possible. We’ve previously been told by the district that middle schools were not on the table, despite them actually having the capacity to grow the Dual Immersion program through 8th grade without reducing enrollment and to provide adequate facilities to the attending students. Fortunately, the board directed the DAC to look at ALL options. If this decision had been left up to the district, it appears to have already been made.

Note: The above comments represent my own personal views and do not represent the views of the district advisory committee as a whole.

-Tracy Dauterman, Paso Robles


Editor’s note: Opinion pieces and letters to the editor are the personal opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Paso Robles Daily News or its staff. We welcome letters from local residents regarding relevant local topics. To submit one, click here.

 

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