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In Wynette Burchfield’s letter, “Election is not a popularity contest,” in the April 27 edition of The Lancaster News, some statements were made that might give people the wrong impression of Discovery School.
Class sizes are not 13 students per grade, but 18 students per grade; it’s been that way for the last three years that I’ve had children there. And though Discovery may get funding from additional sources as a charter school, until last summer the school’s building, the old Central Elementary on West Dunlap Street, was probably the most antiquated in the county. At least 50 years old, if not older, the school finally received a new roof, central air, new windows and new ceiling tiles last summer. We still don’t have a cafeteria or a gym, or even an indoor dining area, unless classrooms count, for the students to eat their home-made lunches.
But new buildings and the latest equipment only mean so much: it’s what happens in the classroom that counts for the most. As a Discovery parent, what I see as setting Discovery apart is the formal agreement between parents, teachers, and staff that education is the responsibility of all parties involved. When you apply through the lottery, you as a parent sign an agreement to be an active participant in the process.
All parents are required to log 30 hours per school year through volunteer time, attendance at parent, teachers, student conferences, parent workshops, classroom participation, etc. If you drove by the school on the morning of April 16, you would have seen the volunteer commitment in action: parents, teachers, administrators and students doing their part for spring cleanup: pulling weeds, planting flowers, cleaning windows, filing papers, organizing classrooms and storage rooms.
The comparison to a private school also suggests Discovery is exclusive. The lottery is a selective process and you have to have the luck of the draw to get in Discovery, but students from all backgrounds and abilities attend the school, not just high performers or kids from certain neighborhoods. The Eagle program, though sharing the same building, is entirely separate from Discovery School. Private schools typically require students to test in for admission, and if grades aren’t maintained or if the child is a discipline problem, the private school doesn’t have to keep them enrolled. Vouchers or not, private schools will probably retain the right of being selective.
I could go on, but if you want to learn more about Discovery and its charter principles, visit the Web site at lancasterscschools.org, arrange a visit with the school office, or ask a Discovery parent. We’re proud of our school and would be happy to tell you about it.