I believe the best way forward for the long-term health of our school system is for KCMS to be replaced at the Chestertown Site and to accommodate grades 5-8 (Option 1).
Many of the problems that plague our schools are due to a lack of resources: not enough manpower (teachers, social workers, support staff, tutors, volunteers, fundraisers, organizers, coaches, etc) and not enough money (it’s difficult to fill these positions without adequate funding). Both are long-term problems that can’t be solved without our community getting involved, without us all recognizing that we share the responsibility of educating our kids—if for nothing else, then for our own best interests. These kids are going to be the ones who decide to make their lives here, become our family doctors, run our local shops, become our EMTs and firefighters, supply our farmer’s market and maintain and expand on all of the systems that make our lives what they are here in Chestertown.
Our schools currently suffer from a lack of community involvement and support. In the short term, this means the school budget keeps shrinking and no one notices or cares. In the short term it means we don’t have money for enough counselors to deal with the many traumatic effects of having a school population with such high levels of poverty (88% for Garnet and 60% for Kent County Middle). (For the record, Galena stands at 58% and Rock Hall at 94%). It also means we don’t have enough money for robust after-school programming to keep kids involved and excited about learning. It means our teachers are buying school supplies out of their own pockets and often working second jobs to help pay for them. It means our kids aren’t getting the best opportunities to thrive in school and beyond school.
Creating a new dynamic physical space for our middle school is a great first step. A great second step would be for the remarkable people of our community is to step up, get involved, and start creating new dynamic opportunities for our students to expand on that physical space. If the Middle School moves out to Worton, it will be even further out of sight and out of mind.
There is value in seeing kids walk the sidewalks on their way to school. There is value in knowing that just down the street are young minds that might benefit from an extra spark of some kind to really light up their potential. There is value in seeing the seeds of our future in the heart of our community. My dream is that Chestertown will become known for collaborative education, respected for creatively fostering its most important resource, and seen as a place to build an exciting future.
Please go to https://www.kent.k12.md.us/KCMSProject.aspx and vote for Option 1 before Sept 10 to keep our middle school in Chestertown. And please email your comments to the Board of Education at [email protected] .The long term effects could be profound, not just for our kids, but for all of us.