Blacksburg Middle School Move

So, this spring, the Blacksburg High School gym collapsed. I went to a meeting at the middle school as we talked over the plans. The middle school kids are going to have to use the old Christiansburg Middle School.

My thoughts so far. Wow…just wow… the Montgomery County Public Schools (VA) web site is truly, truly terrible. I didn’t think it was possible to create something so unusable. Must be designed by committee.

That aside, I think the schedule they’ve created is a bit ridiculous. It’s compressed in order to align with the bus schedules. 4 minutes in between classes is probably an okay amount of time, but doesn’t allow for relaxing or socializing and it bothers me that the kids’ time is so regimented that they cannot allocate a logical amount of time like 5 minutes.

There’s virtually no time for lunch, and it sounds like that might be tricky to manage. I’m generally not very happy at how compressed their day is. It doesn’t seem like the learning of the children is the primary driver for the schedule. It’s about buses and giving teachers time to prepare for the next day.

The upgrades to the school sound good. They’re putting a lot of money into it. There will be A/C (except in the gym), which I was concerned about before the meeting. People were concerned about 8th graders having to go to the main building to use the bathroom–which could be an issue, particularly for girls. There was general concern about the safety of kids being outside, which felt overly fearful to me. They have two new safety officer positions to help cope with that though. Some were concerned about kids getting wet when it rains, but, really, it’s not like they’ll melt.

From the bussing perspective, the superintendent claimed that most kids will be traveling under an hour each way. It’s still a lot, but not as bad as I feared. One person asked about dropping kids off at the (current) BMS (aka new BHS) so they’d only have to ride from there, which seemed like a reasonable idea to me, but didn’t seem to go over well or just wasn’t understood. The logistics of bussing are tricky, mostly because HS and MS kids travel together and they cannot afford to bus them separately.

The meeting was interesting to my ears, because it generally felt like there were a number of assumptions which were unassailable because that was just how things are done/have always been done.

Overall I felt better afterwards than before though.