Parents, educators support Treasure Island Elementary, despite its D grade

07/21/2014 6:21 PM

07/21/2014 6:23 PM

Parents and educators from Treasure Island Elementary School asked North Bay Village officials to keep funding the school’s International Baccalaureate program despite a drop in the school’s rating from C to D.

After the county released school grades last week, Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps said rumors began to circulate that funding for the IB program would be taken away from the school. Last year, the village commission approved a three-year agreement to create an IB program at Treasure Island, allocating $130,000 a year.

“A lot of talk, a lot of rumors were floating around, negative and positive, about the IB program because of the situation the school is having,” Leon-Kreps said at a budget workshop last Thursday, where roughly a dozen educators, parents and their children attended to support IB funding.

The discussion of the IB funding was not on the agenda for the workshop. Instead, the workshop was supposed to be about the village manager’s recommendations for next year’s budget.

When the parents, students and educators showed up, however, the commission gave them time to speak. Rosa Neely, who is president of the school’s Parent Teacher Association and has children who either attend or attended the school, told commissioners the scoring method “is very unfair,” and that the school is making progress.

“For anyone to expect that you are going to turn around this Titanic in a matter of months is ridiculous. It’s not going to be from a C to an A overnight,” Neely said.

The school is also under new leadership. Sherry Krubitch became its principal last year.

“We must recognize the 2013-14 was a year of change at Treasure Island Elementary. The school had a new principal, while at the same time implementing IB for the first year,” said Iraida Mendez-Cartaya, an associate superintendent with the school district, who supports funding the IB program.

Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco also spoke. He has an autistic son who attends the school.

“We chose Treasure Island because of that woman right there,” Grieco said pointing to Krubitch. “I’ve seen the IB program working in Miami Beach ... To pull funding for the IB program would be a huge mistake.”

The schools in Treasure Island Elementary’s feeder pattern, Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor Elementary and North Beach Elementary, both have A grades, although Neely said it is an unfair comparison because of differences in community support and income levels.

At Treasure Island, 85 percent of students receive lunch assistance. At Ruth K, 41 percent of its students receive free or reduced lunch, while at North Beach Elementary, only 30 percent do.

Treasure Island’s ratings have gone from A in 2011, to B in 2012, to C in 2013 to D this year.

In an open Facebook group called “North Bay Village Residents Speak,” Village commissioner Richard Chervony pointed out the school’s grade history, adding, this “gives the Commission a lot to discuss at the [Thursday’s] Budget Session Workshop.”

“What I was trying to do is get more parents involved in the process. I wanted to know why this school dropped from an A to D. What is the solution?” Chervony said in an interview. “When we created the funding, we knew it was a three-year plan. I did not put that into question.”

IB, or International Baccalaureate, is a program designed by the Swiss-based non-profit International Baccalaureate Organization. It provides a pre-college curriculum and credentials valid in the U.S. and in other countries.

According to village staff, Treasure Island Elementary school officials are expected to present a report on the school’s performance at a special commission meeting at 7:30 p.m. July 29 at Village Hall.

At that meeting, the commission will vote on whether to allocate $130,000 from the upcoming budget year to Treasure Island for the upcoming school year.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @MelhorL

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