On Wednesday, Nov. 18 the public was invited to attend a community meeting at Valley Forge Middle School with the District’s safety consultant from National School Safety and Security Services (consultation fee: $15,500).
Chesterbrook resident Doug Anestad attended the fencing meeting and provided the following update of the meeting for Community Matters:
The Valley Forge Middle School fence safety consultant meeting was quite an event with a very large turnout with over one hundred in attendance.
The meeting started at 7pm and the safety consultant said that he wanted to finish by 9pm. There was a line of people talking the whole two hours at the two microphones that were set up. Each person had a maximum of 5 minutes to speak with many not using their allotted time.
The message was consistent, loud, and clear: the audience did not think that the proposed fencing would increase student safety, are ugly, and the money would be better spent on the students.
The audience seemed to be much more worried about the daily traffic jams at Valley Forge Middle School during drop off and pick up than any supposed safety the fences would add.
It was not just parents of Valley Forge Middle School students that spoke out against the proposed fences. Valley Forge Elementary parents not only spoke out against the proposed fencing at Valley Forge Middle but also stated that they didn’t see the benefit of the fences that have already been installed at Valley Forge Elementary.
Valley Forge Middle School PTO members, including the PTO President Sarah Culbert, spoke out against the proposed fences.
Speaking of the PTO, a parent mentioned that he got a letter from the PTO trying to get raise money to purchase iPads for the students. He pointed out that the $80,000 budgeted for the fences would not only complete the fundraising, but go way beyond it. I just looked it up, and for $80,000 we could purchase 200 iPads for the students at retail cost. The school district gets an educational discount so they could get even more.
The point wasn’t really about buying iPads. The point was that the money could be better spent on the students. The audience wholeheartedly agreed.
In addition to the PTO president, there were presidents of quite a few homeowner associations including David Miller, president of the Chesterbrook Civic Association. They stated that in their communities, everyone they talked to was against the proposed fences and people didn’t see how they helped student safety and were a waste of money.
One of the most telling things that happened was when one person speaking at the end stated that she was uncomfortable publicly speaking and commented that many other people felt the same way and therefore wouldn’t speak. She asked if there could be a show of hands for people who were against the fence. It looked as if every hand in the audience went up. When the safety consultant asked who was in favor of the fences, only one hand from the Tredyffrin community went up.
The bottom line is that the community came out in force yet again to give their input. The input was loud and clear. The community knows fences will not increase student safety. Fences are an eyesore and a waste of money.
If the school board goes ahead with the fences, one has to ask what the point was of even asking the community for their input. The community wants the money spent on students – not useless fences.
As part of the District’s agreement with the safety consultant, a preliminary oral presentation is tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 20, 2 PM at the District’s Facilities Meeting. The safety consultant will provide written report with recommendations following the site visit.