RACINE — Racine Unified will stop offering regular education at Goodland Elementary at the end of this school year.
The district began implementing its Montessori program at Goodland in 2016, starting with 3- and 4-year-olds, with plans to phase out regular education at the school year by year, as it phased in Montessori. This would allow existing regular-education students at Goodland, 4800 Graceland Blvd., to attend through fifth grade.
When the district initially planned the phase-out, it anticipated an enrollment of 200 students in grades 2-5 in the 2019-20 school year. There are currently 156 students enrolled at the school. So far this spring, about 90 students had enrolled for next year.
“Those numbers are too low to provide an effective learning environment,” said district spokeswoman Stacy Tapp.
Although numbers too low to maintain an ideal learning environment were the main reason for the change, Tapp said the district will see some cost savings as well.
Unified began notifying parents of the change on March 25. Tapp said the district attempted to call each parent directly, but also sent letters home with students. Goodland parents were given the option of sending their children next year to Janes Elementary, 1425 N. Wisconsin St., or Giese Elementary, 5120 Byrd Ave.
Linda Wilson, who has a grandson in second grade at Goodland, said parents are upset because the district promised in 2017 that current students would be allowed to attend the school through fifth grade.
Former Superintendent Lolli Haws made that promise during a November 2017 School Board meeting.
“I just want to remind everyone, the students who are at Goodland will be able to stay at Goodland their entire school career; no child will be asked to leave their school,” she said.
Wilson said the staff and principal at Goodland are great, and she wants her grandson and his classmate to be able to continue there.
“They need to do the right thing,” Wilson said, referring to the district.
District will assist parents
Tapp said Unified is working with parents to help them choose the right school for their child and to iron out transportation issues.
“We absolutely understand that parents are concerned and disappointed,” Tapp said.
Regular Goodland teachers who will be out of a job at the end of the school year are welcome to apply for any open positions within the district, Tapp said. Teaching in the Montessori program requires special credentials.
The Montessori program is to continue to be phased in as planned at Goodland. The parent-child-oriented classroom program for 3-year-old students will remain at the school as well.
According to the Racine Unified website, the Montessori method of education is based on self-directed learning activities that emphasize learning through five senses and with multi-age classrooms. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities.
“We absolutely understand that parents are concerned and disappointed.” Stacy Tapp, Racine Unified’s chief of communication and community engagement