My youngest child was a first grader the year we consolidated both elementary schools onto the Quincy Elementary campus. He had spent his kindergarten year on the Pioneer campus as a K-2 school. The difference between a K-2 campus and a K-6 was eye-opening.
That year, he was injured almost daily on the playground. Footballs to the face, skinned knees, broken glasses. Not because he was especially clumsy or because he wasn’t being supervised. There were simply too many kids to comfortably play on the much smaller playground at the Alder Street campus.
My older son, who as a fourth grader was finally able to join band, discovered that the school consolidation meant that there was no longer a band room available. They had to practice on the stage, competing over the ambient noise of the cafeteria, and with the distractions that accompany too many kids in a small space.
Gone, too, was the computer lab. Instead, we had COWs (Computers on Wheels) that required the teachers to set up and take down the computers, eating into class time and making using the computers a hassle.
Then came the mold and asbestos issues with the middle wing of the school and the emergency relocation of our kindergarten classes to the Pioneer campus. We were told it was a temporary move, but they are still there. Although my kids weren’t affected, I know many parents were frustrated that only the kindergarten was there, separate from the Charter school, but not quite a part of Quincy Elementary either. It’s isolating for both parents and staff.
Currently, we have two more classrooms that are completely unusable at Quincy Elementary due to mold. One was designated to be the band room, which means that six years after consolidation, the band is still on the stage. The other was a special education classroom, which now has to share space with another teacher’s room.
My children’s best experiences with Quincy Elementary were before consolidation. There were no big kids to bump into the little ones, and there was plenty of room to run and play. We had room for band, room for computers, room for intervention. We just, quite simply, don’t fit on one campus and probably never will again thanks to steadying enrollment and the addition of transitional kindergarten.
Although it is incredibly frustrating for those of us who went through the original consolidation process, the right thing to do is to go back to two campuses. We have the Special Day Preschool and kindergarten at Pioneer now. I’d love to see Head Start and first grade there as well. It would relieve the overcrowding at the Quincy Elementary campus, and it would make our littlest students safer by giving them room to run, play and learn.