A fairly routine meeting of the Fort Wayne Community Schools board took a critical turn during the time allotted for members of the public to speak.
Four parents took the opportunity to share their frustration and dissatisfaction over the impending transformation of Towles Intermediate School's seventh and eighth grades into a New Tech feeder into Wayne High School. The change will be for the next school year and was only announced in late March.
The school had been a Montessori program – which is a type of learning system for those who are more independent – through the eighth grade for years, and it will still be a Montessori program for grades 1 through 6.
The school, which has around 525 students enrolled this year, will no longer feed into South Side High School.
The parents, at times during their remarks, acknowledged that the district has the right to adjust its programming at its schools. However, each of the four were exasperated with what they described as FWCS' lack of communication prior to the change, the timing of the change after the school choice lottery for the district – which meant their children will likely have to attend Towles for the next year, unless they choose a charter, private or parochial option – and what they termed as a failure of the district to explain how the New Tech program works in the first place.
“We just would really like to know more,” said one parent.
What could, or should, be of concern to the district: Several of the parents said that the change and how it was handled had prompted them to reach out to private schools in order to assess a potential fit for their children.
“New Tech might be great, but I don't have enough information to say that,” one speaker said. “If it's (FWCS' decision-making) going to be a business, most businesses focus on taking care of their customers.”
While the parents did address the board, the board itself didn't ask further questions or respond to the remarks. Board president Mark GiaQuinta explained that the board's training is such that while they certainly pay attention to all that is going on with the district, concerns about the operation of the district are funneled to senior members of the administration.
That, GiaQuinta says, serves to not undermine the superintendent, Wendy Robinson.
It was announced that Monday, April 22nd, will feature a “getting to know New Tech” event at Wayne. The event will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.