Martin Jansky
Resident, Bremerton Road in Rock Hill

Same Street, Same School, Better Community, Safer Kids

The Petition to adjust the Brentwood – Webster school district (“WSD”) line that divides the Bremerton Road neighborhood was the end of our efforts to get the districts to talk to each other, not the beginning. I am only one of hundreds of the Rock Hill, Webster and Brentwood citizens who endorsed the Petition. Months ago all of the approximately 60 families on both sides of Bremerton Road were invited to discuss the proposal by personal invitation, hand delivered to their homes, to a Sunday evening neighborhood meeting, complete with refreshments and cupcakes.

Every one present at the meeting from both sides of the street were enthusiastically in favor of the district adjustment. With invitations to every one and dissent from no one, only then did we neighbors begin the only option available to us as private citizens, a Petition. We again canvassed both sides of our Bremerton neighborhood. Only one family that I encountered was opposed to the initiative. The vast majority of the residents we spoke to in Brentwood, Rock Hill and Webster were in favor of the district line adjustment, more than enough for the 500+ signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

Members of the WSD and the few dissenting private citizens on Bremerton had ample opportunity and even direct invitations to discuss this issue proactively; some, unlike the affable family I encountered, chose the forum of the media rather than neighborly discussion. It is a sad distraction to pillory those who volunteered to be the spokespeople of this neighborhood effort and the hundreds who signed the Petition, the Stange family, in particular.

Even worse are WSD’s scare tactics against Nita Weiskopf’s two kids, such as WSD’s lacking “the authority to grandfather” her two Bremerton children who study in the WSD, without first clarifying that WSD, like every other school district in the state, could easily and should definitely ask for an appropriate reprieve from those with authority, the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. WSD could also have assured Ms. Weiskopf that such a modest request for two children could be added to Webster’s suggested ballot language, as it is on other ballot measures, to safeguard her children from “severe emotional distress and educational disruptions” no matter the outcome. Apparently, WSD chose another tactic.

We respect the academic acumen and even some of the dissenting opinions of both districts. However, we differ with the opinion that it is best for a child to leave her neighborhood of watchful parents who know her, travel past the local school on her block where her friends attend, cross three municipalities and the busiest railroad line, bus depot, and streets in the area, including Manchester, Brentwood, McKnight, Lockwood, Big Bend, and Interstate 44, to go to a school several miles away (not 1 mile as reported), all without bus service. We, however, still hope the districts will work together to end this senseless division of our neighborhood, something we have attempted earnestly to do for months. When our leaders fail to act, we, and many of us who signed the Petition, believe in our democratic process and its ability to open conversations to better solutions for our communities and our children – all of our children. We also believe in a good cupcake.

martin@janskylaw.com
Martin Jansky