News and Tribune

February 26, 2009

LETTERS: Feb. 27, 2009

Help preserve Scribner House

I had driven by the little house on the Ohio many times and wondered about it — when was it built and by whom? During this past Christmas holiday, my questions were answered as I discovered a “treasure in our midst!”

Built by Joel Scribner in 1814, the oldest building in New Albany was open to the public for the annual Christmas tour. Joel and two brothers founded New Albany and named it after Albany, N.Y., their native state. This new settlement was so attractive that it became the largest city in the new (1816) state of Indiana.

From the moment we were welcomed outside by the ladies in period dress to the end of the tour, when Anne Caudill served us spicy cider and goodies, the experience was such a treat! Almost 200 years old, this beautifully restored and maintained family home is living history. With original pieces of furniture and displays of clothing worn by the family members, the house is the best example of life in the early 1800s that I have ever experienced.

A member of the Scribner family sold the home to the Piankeshaw Chapter of the NSDAR in 1917, and the organization has struggled to preserve it ever since. To walk through those rooms — so authentically restored — is a much more exciting history lesson than reading about 1814 or seeing a video. We all need to help ensure that this home continues to teach us about the past for another 200 years.

— Nancy Spradling, Louisville

Regarding Silver Street’s enrollment

In August, after the first week of school, Silver Street Elementary School parents were notified low enrollment in the third grade would require sending a third-grade teacher to Mount Tabor Elementary, resulting in a split third-, fourth-grade class. In addition, a special education aid would be moved to another school. Ironically, New Albany-Floyd County School Corp. cannot provide answers regarding minimum classroom sizes.

Mount Tabor and Slate Run are overcrowded as they are recipient schools for students coming from “choice” schools, i.e. schools that failed to make adequate yearly progress.

In September, I discovered the list of recipient schools does not include Silver Street Elementary. Last spring, Silver Street Elementary had too many students at 277 to be included in the list.

The Resources for Results committee was established to improve efficiency throughout the corporation. The committee’s data indicates that Silver Street Elementary is under-enrolled. Enrollment is a main criteria for making recommendations regarding school closure. Yet, the corporation stated that Silver Street Elementary was too over-enrolled in the spring to be a recipient school for children attending choice schools last spring.

Confused? Join the club!

1) By not listing Silver Street as a recipient school, Silver Street’s numbers remain low, falsely indicating the area is in decline and that school resources are being underutilized.

2) Both the third- and split third-, fourth-grade classes are overcrowded in this Title I school, which means the teachers are unable to spend time with students most in need of assistance. Students take the ISTEP test for the first time in the third grade. Overcrowding their classrooms has had a negative impact on their ISTEP test performance.

3) At the end of the 2008 school year, parents were denied the choice to send their children to the only “exemplary status” school in town. At that time, Mount Tabor and Slate Run were on “academic watch.” Students could have been sent to Silver Street, so they could benefit from an exemplary school.

4) Additional transportation costs result from sending children from Pine View Elementary (a choice school) to Mount Tabor or Slate Run, instead of sending them to Silver Street, which is closer to Pine View than the other two schools.

Information is being manipulated here! For the school-closure scenario, Silver Street’s enrollment is too low, but for moving students from choice to nonchoice schools, Silver Street is too full. Logic tells us it can’t be both!

If Silver Street is too full, the committee cannot argue that Silver Street is under-enrolled. If under-enrolled, the split-class fiasco should have been avoided and more students should have been sent to Silver Street Elementary. Contradictions and misrepresentation are rampant regarding this school-closure issue. New Albany — wake up and pay attention!

— Norma Condra, New Albany