Several months ago, I began meeting with the superintendent of Carbondale Elementary School District #95, Linda Meredith. We have been talking about ways we can provide support to the elementary district, not in the form of constructing new buildings, but in a manner to help get and keep the youngest of our school children on the right track. There is a disparity in test scores between some demographics within the district and there are a lot of issues that surround the success of some of the neediest of our grade school students. Getting a handle on all of that is outside the scope of what I can do as mayor, but I think now is the time for us to partner with District 95 and try to support their efforts.
Specifically, with the savings we will realize from not subsidizing community organizations at the Hayes Center, I would like to see us work together to fund a summer math and reading camp that will strategically target students who need focused and intense tutoring that will allow them to stay with their respective grade´s curriculum and bridge the gap that summer vacation often creates. If we can enlist these young students in a boot camp for school, with math and reading challenges instead of push-ups and marching drills, then I think we´ll see improvement in test scores and we´ll see less of a need to stigmatize young students with special education courses.I´ll be putting together a recommendation for our upcoming budget that will apply those saved dollars into a multi-year pilot program to be developed by teachers with the absolute goal of having defined and realistic outcomes for student success. The cost for this will be in the $150,000 per year range, but we have to see it as an investment in our future. If we can´t graduate students from grade school and middle school, and then from high school and college, we will have failed to do our part for more than just our generation, we will have failed the future. There is still much to be done to put this together, and it will cost us what we had originally planned to save, but I think it´s the right thing to do and I hope the City Council will support it
The mayor did get a standing ovation when he finished, but even that delayed several seconds after he finished as people stood up slowly as they saw others doing so, then they dropped back into their seats pretty quickly. Certainly a change from the reaction to last year's State of the City address and probably due to his announcement then that he would not seek a third term