Parents, Students Still Question Decision To Close Star Lane
Parents and students said Monday they still have questions about the reasons for closing the alternative Star Lane Center with its problem-based learning programs.
Some of the trustees on the board of the Natrona County School District acknowledged their concerns and said they still have questions of their own.
Last month, the board of trustees asked high school principals to phase out the Star Lane Centers at Kelly Walsh and Natrona County high schools that operate at the year-old Pathways Innovation Center.
The trustees heard a report that test scores from 2015-2017 showed students for the most part in these programs were not meeting the academic performance levels based on ACT standardized high school achievement tests results for mathematics, reading, science, and English and writing.
That decision occurred the same day the board voted to close three elementary schools -- University Park, Willard and Mountain View -- and Frontier Middle School.
Students, parents and teachers defended the problem-based learning program three weeks ago and again Monday night at the trustees regular meeting.
Kendsey Huffer asked how closing Star Lane would save money, and what other options existed for her children. The trustees have said problem-based learning courses still will be made available, and it seemed to her that the district was just shifting services from one place to another.
Huffer also challenged the trustees for leaving the decision to the high school principals about closing Star Lane, because that should be the trustees' responsibility.
"Principals, administrators and school officials are not chosen by parents or community members," she said. "Our voice in education comes directly from elected officials on the school board."
Star Lane graduate Abbie Schaible said she and other students would be willing to help the trustees solve some of the problems
And parent Nancy Wesnitzer said there seems to be more questions than answers about the fate of Star Lane, and whether problem-based learning would continue in the district.
School Board trustee Clark Jensen said he understands the questions and admitted he didn't have the answers they wanted.
"Understand that that's difficult to give answers in a short period of time," Jensen said.
"It will take months before we have answers to those questions, as well as how do we make an integrated learning opportunity available," he said. "We don't know. Understand at this point that we hear you."