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Sugar Valley Rural Charter School

LACEY MILLER

Jersey Shore

I am writing this letter to showcase my undoubted support for the Sugar Valley Rural Charter School. Please bear with me as this is rather lengthy, but I have so much to express to you readers in regards to why I wholeheartedly love SVRCS.

First, we have amazing, passionate teachers and staff who go above and beyond every day for their students. I am aware that some teachers take money from their own pockets to provide for things needed in their classrooms, and for their students. The teachers are underpaid, but they do not let that take away from their passion to educate our children. They are innovative and exciting and that can only come from the heart!

Second, I want to say a little bit about our test scores. We have a large population of students with IEPs (Individualized Education Program.) Their parents have chosen to send them to SVRCS because they receive individualized attention. At SVRCS great care is taken to ensure each child is given the best opportunity to learn to the fullest extent of their ability. That said, these children still have to take PSSAs and Keystones just like regular education students. For the language arts part of these tests the only thing that can be read to the children is the directions. This means the kiddos who have accommodations in reading because of their needs are tested the same as those children being tested on their grade level. So a child who is in 4th grade but has an IEP and pulls out for some classes will still take the same PSSA or Keystones as their peers who aren’t pulled out for IEPs. Yes, the IEP students will be in a smaller test setting, but if they have issues reading they are more or less taking an exam that is equivalent to an exam in a foreign language for regular education kids.

If a child is in a 4th-grade math class but are in 6th grade, they are tested on the 6th grade curriculum-standards. Being that SVRCS has a large population (33% to be exact) of children with these accommodations on a daily basis I fail to see the fairness in having them take these tests. Thus, is it fair to calculate their scores in with the scores of regular education students?

I am an advocate for students with special needs. I do not want this next statement to be misconstrued: To me it is obvious why our school’s test scores are lower. It’s because 33% of SVRCS’s student population have IEPs.

Third, to denounce the myth that SVRCS is not up to standards I will give a few examples. I have a daughter who attended the charter from K-9th grade. In kindergarten it was discovered that she was bored. She was bumped up to 1st-grade classes for reading and math. Then in 1st grade she was tested and her teacher and the school psychologist spoke to me about her skipping 1st grade. She skipped to 2nd grade and she flourished. In 4th grade they began a reading enrichment class for her and a few peers. In 5th grade they realized she was bored again and they asked permission to skip her to 6th grade. The school psychologist did IQ testing with her to ensure she was ready for that.

She told me she was told by kids attending public school that her school was easy, that she wasn’t being taught and that’s why she skipped grades.

My daughter transferred to Jersey Shore ARea in 10th grade and she was ahead of what they were learning. I’m sure Jersey Shore educators had their doubts when she took all honors and AP courses. The guidance counselors assured us she could switch to different classes if things got too tough for her. She showed them! This girl who got her rock solid start at SVRCS graduated with four honors cords and at the age of 16! She is now a sophomore at Penn State main campus majoring in bio-chemistry molecular biology!

Now tell me SVRCS isn’t up to par.

Lastly, my two sons are at SVRCS and they are flourishing. My sophomore is doing amazing. He is president of the FBLA chapter. He is an amazing public speaker who brought home 4th place in the state for public speaking of the FFA Creed. Let me tell you, he went against a lot of kids in that competition.

SVRCS has embedded in him integrity, loyalty and a get-it-done work ethic. He has also learned how to respect himself and others. He is on high honor roll and is in honors classes. He tested out of the Keystones in 7th grade and was always either proficient or advanced in those fancy PSSAs. Tell me that he is not getting a good education. My youngest is in 5th grade and is always bringing home amazing scores. His report card is full of As and a few Bs. His PSSA scores were proficient and advanced. He cares about school and he loves it! He came home last week very upset about this charter renewal and what will happen if his school closes. He looked at me and told me he will not attend any other school. He told me he loves SVRCS. He became a little anxious and frantic. I assured him we would not stop fighting for his school and our right to choose. I also assured him we will seek other options if the renewal ends badly. I have spoken to many families that feel the same.

They will seek other options if we aren’t renewed. So tell me what Keystone Central School District is going to gain denying SVRCS its charter renewal?

I pay taxes to Jersey Shore Area School District. I am very appreciative they are not withholding money meant to go to my children at their school of choice.

To KC Superintendent Ms. Martin and to the Keystone school board, you will hear my son voice his opinion at the Nov. 6 meeting. You all will then see the respectful young man that SVRCS is helping mold him into. I also just want to add that this same polished young man also drives his John Deere tractor to school and helps make apple cider and sauerkraut. He participates in the plays, and he plays trumpet in the band. He also plays baseball. Oh, and he has decided that he is joining the United States Coast Guard! Now, tell me that SVRCS isn’t doing their job!

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