Stick to Montessori plan

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, June 02, 2004

In 1992 some parents in Juneau got together and hired an elementary Montessori teacher. These parents were enthusiastic about the benefits their children experienced in a Montessori preschool/kindergarten and wanted to make Montessori available for children entering elementary school. In 1994, the first public elementary program opened at Harborview School, serving 28 children in grades 1-4.

Montessori at Harborview now serves 48 children in grades 1-6. Montessori is also available to children from 15 months through kindergarten at the Juneau Montessori School, and to children in grades 7-8 at the Montessori Adolescent Program, a cyberschool program available through the Juneau School District. About 125 children are enjoying a Montessori education in Juneau, 63 of them enrolled in the Juneau School District.

Due to increased demand, and following a three-year plan developed in 2000 at the School District's request, this popular and successful program is ready to expand. Montessori wants to add a second elementary class next year at Harborview. There are approximately 38 children waiting to enroll in this class; there are 28 openings. In fact, each of Juneau's six Montessori classrooms (from toddler through 8th grade) has a list of children waiting to enroll as soon as space becomes available.

Unfortunately, the School District is not honoring the three-year plan developed in 2000 at its own request. Montessori has been told that the district cannot honor promises made by personnel no longer employed by the district; they've been told to develop another three-year plan; at different times, they've been told there's a space issue, a money issue, a teacher issue.

Whatever the issue, there are 38 children who were invited to apply for an anticipated 28 openings in a new Harborview Montessori class. They are now being told that this class may not exist next year.

My son is one of those 38 children. My husband and I are very upset to learn that our choice of an educational alternative, a choice made at the district's invitation, may not now be available to us.

Juneau's Montessori community has worked for 12 years and has independently raised roughly $275,000 to make Montessori an option for Juneau's children - all of Juneau's children, district-wide. We want the School District to honor this dedication and commitment by providing Juneau with an additional elementary classroom at Harborview and an additional Montessori teacher in 2004/2005.

Alison Talley


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