I recently went to an Urbana School Board meeting in September because I had something I felt was a concern, not only to me, but to every taxpayer in our school district. I had asked for the numbers of students that live in our district but do not attend our “new” schools. I was given the information by the Urbana City School Treasurer and she even broke it out by grade level, as I had requested. The only ones not broken out were the home schooled students, as it is difficult to know what their actual grade level is unless they are tested. I was shocked by the number. This is our first year for our “new” schools to be open and this should be the highest enrollment ever for our students. Well, to my surprise, we have 256 open enrolled, 64 in community school, and 40 being homeschooled. This is a total of 360 students whose parents do not want to send their children to our “new” Urbana Schools. At the board meeting, when I was “allowed” to speak up to 6 minutes (normally you can only speak for 3 minutes unless it’s about more than just one topic), I brought this before the school board. I felt that the board should send out letters or emails to these families and ask them why they do not want their children to attend our “new” schools. I felt if the board did an online survey, like Survey Monkey, they can have those parents honestly answer questions and give comments anonymously and let the board know what the problems are so they can fix them. It was obvious that that our Urbana School Board doesn’t care what those problems are. They looked at me like I was from another planet. Mr. Engle, Board President, then proceeded to ask the Treasurer how many students transfer in. She said around 120. That was NOT my question. I want to know why we have 360 of our own students missing. These are our children, grandchildren, and neighbors. Mr. Engle then asked the board if there was anyone that wished to have a discussion about it. You could have heard a pin drop. It’s obvious that the school board doesn’t want to know about it, see it, deal with it, or fix it. There was not even a thank you for bringing it to their attention or a confirmation that they would be looking into it. Nothing!!
As taxpayers, I feel we have a right to know what/who the problems are and that something is going to be done about it. When we elect board members, we expect them to not only see the good things happening, but when there are problems right in front of them, to deal with them and not continuously shove them under the rug. Our grade levels have anywhere from 100 to 125 students. This means we have 3 whole grade levels of our own students missing. I don’t believe that everyone that homeschools their children do it because they truly want to. I believe there are problems that have occurred for their children, and they are tired of dealing with our administration. I know I have heard a lot about bullying going on at Urbana City Schools, and it is not being dealt with. If students want to transfer in, and there’s room, I’m all for that. We are paying real estate taxes for our kids that aren’t there. Even if our students go elsewhere, Urbana City Schools still get the real estate taxes from us. I have a nine year old granddaughter that decided she wanted to transfer out of Urbana Schools starting this school year. So I asked her, “Why do you want to go to West Liberty-Salem School?”. Her reply was, “because I’d feel safer there”. She had heard how our Superintendent, Charles Thiel, said in the Urbana newspaper, that if there is an active shooter, the kids can jump out the windows. Both “new” schools of ours are 2 stories high with NO ladders or slides to escape safely. I told her that she had a very valid point and I agreed that she should go elsewhere. That gives you the answer to 1 of the 360 missing kids, how about the other 359??????
For those of you that do not have children or grandchildren in the Urbana district, I have a suggestion for you. The next time you are at Walmart, a grocery store, or pharmacy in Urbana, just go up to people and ask them how they feel about our school district. Don’t ask just one person, ask many so that you can make a decision on your own. Remember, you still have the power to vote and make your voice heard.