Friday, June 29, 2012

Governing Board Meeting June 28th Public Comment

The following are the remarks I, Christina Bartholomew, prepared and delivered at last night's Governing Board meeting.  While I have tried to be as accurate and as detailed as possible in preparing my remarks, it is possible that I have made a few errors.  If so, I appreciate respectful, polite and private correction.  These are my own views based on my understanding of events and do not necessarily reflect the views of others who have posted on this blog.

Since it is unlikely I will be able to present my full prepared remarks in the time given tonight, I have brought copies for each Board member and would like to ask that a copy of them be entered into the public record and included with tonight’s minutes.  Thank you.

I have always felt that Freedom Academy is my school.  We’ve been at the school for six years and have spent many, many hours volunteering and working to help the school.  I imagine that many other parents and teachers would say the same thing.  Freedom Academy is not just a school for many of our parents and teachers; it is a second home.  In fact, the main appeal of Freedom Academy and other charter schools is that they are supposed to be run by and accountable to the parents whose children attend.

Parents and teachers at this school need to have a voice that is respected in its decisions.  I am concerned that in recent years, we have lost the important voices that are needed in order to make our school great.  We are losing many good parents, students, and teachers because they no longer feel they have a respected voice in the direction of this school. 

At the last Governing Board meeting, the PTO president spoke of one family leaving because they couldn’t handle the homework levels at this school.  She then spoke of how wonderful it is that we have such high standards.  I agree it is important for us to have high standards, but I have also spoken to this same family who is leaving, and while homework is one factor in their decision, there are many, many more factors involved in the decision, including the loss of many of Freedom Academy’s Specialties and the feeling that the high school is taking resources and focus away from the lower grades.  This is a family who has wonderful students and that has consistently and unceasingly donated hundreds of volunteer hours each year.  Our school’s charter requires us to have “family retention” as one of our long-term goals.  I am concerned that because of recent events and practices, we are failing at that goal.  I would like to suggest that in the future, we do anonymous polling of those who are leaving to find out how we can better serve and retain our good families.

There are multiple reasons the parents at this school feel that they have lost their voice.  I wish to outline a few of them in the remainder of my remarks. 

First, I want to go on record as stating that I am not opposed to a Freedom Academy High School.  I personally feel that my children will have more opportunities if they attend the larger area high schools because of their excellent academic and extracurricular programs, but I do understand the appeal of a small, focused high school.  If the vast majority of parents are informed about the real costs of a high school, the impact on the lower grades, and the curriculum and still support a high school, then I would suggest that a Freedom Academy high school has a good chance of being successful.  

I do, however, have grave concerns about the school moving forward with a high school because of the following unresolved issues:

1.       Board meetings occur with very little notice and concern for parents’ busy schedules.  For example, I heard two weeks ago from my neighborhood representative that this meeting was going to be held tonight.  I was going to be out of town today, but because I knew two weeks in advance, I was able to rearrange things so that I could be here tonight.  The majority of parents at the school, however, were given notice only yesterday via email.  The school’s website calendar didn’t show a Board meeting until yesterday.  This might not matter as much if it was easy to find out information about what occurs at Board meetings.  However, that is not the case.

2.       Accurate and unbiased information is difficult to obtain and not shared with the parent body.  It is extremely difficult for parents to be informed of how and why decisions are made at the school.  By law, minutes from Board meetings are required to be posted and information about finances, past Board meeting agendas and other important studies, surveys and documents are supposed to be a matter of public record.  Parents are supposed to have a way of knowing what occurs at Board meetings without having to attend them.
a.       Minutes from Board meetings are not available.  There are multiple instances of minutes not being posted online and this situation is on-going.  For example, there have been three important Board meetings held this spring with significant discussion and decisions made, yet none of those minutes have been posted.  At the last Board meeting, Ken Parkinson stated that all of these minutes were available to anyone who wanted them, but in actuality, it isn’t that simple.  I was required to pay for copies of the minutes I asked for in May, costing me about $30.  More recently, I asked two and a half weeks ago to be given copies of the last Board meeting minutes, and the financial documents handed out and have yet to receive them. 
b.       The Proposal to add the 9-12 grades that was taken to the State two years ago was not approved, posted, or circulated to the parents.  This, despite the requirement that any movement that changes Freedom Academy’s charter requires not just a 6-1 vote of the Board (which was not done) but also a vote of ratification by a majority of the parents.
c.       Questions are not being answered.  Many individuals have asked objective and important questions about on-site and off-site expansion and most especially about its financial impact.  Most questions have been ignored.  For example:
                                                  i.      Traffic Studies.  Many neighbors and parents are concerned about the safety of children in the neighborhood.  The school has stated that they’ve done “extensive study on this issue” and Chris Helvey stated at the last meeting that all of the safety and traffic concerns had been resolved with on-site expansion and that the only reason it wasn’t going forward was because of builder financing.  However, multiple people have asked to see copies of the traffic studies and the safety plans and have received no response. 
                                                ii.      Financial documents.  At the last governing board meeting, a budget was passed out to Board members.  This should be a matter of public record, yet no copies were made available to the audience or to the public during or after the meeting.  I sent an email on May 23rd asking to be given a copy and received no response.  I followed up with a phone call to the school on June 11th asking for copies of this budget and received no response.  Other individuals have also tried to follow up and ask about the financial implications of a high school and have also been ignored.
Because of the lack of clear and open communication at the school, most parents have to rely on rumors and discussions with other parents or employees to make their decisions, rather than on actual and published facts.

3.       Board members are not given adequate time to consider important decisions and peruse important documents before votes are taken.  There have been too many “urgent” decisions made in recent months that have made it difficult for Board members to really consider all the information needed and, most especially, to gather the voice of the parents and others involved before voting.  To name just one example, it is my understanding that a budget for next school year will be presented tonight and a vote of approval will be expected to go forward without the Board members having the time to adequately read the budget, consider the implications and changes proposed, or ask other parents for their input and ideas.

4.       Objective Surveys of Parental Opinions in regards to the high school have not been performed.  There were several surveys done in 2009 and 2010, but though the school has stated these showed a “93% support for expansion,” there is no way to verify how accurate that information is, what questions were asked, or how many responded to those surveys, since no copies of this survey have been produced.  In the past several years, as more decisions have been made about the high school, and especially in the last two months, multiple individuals have encouraged the school to survey the current parent body.  Still, no surveys have been done.  One individual was told that once the decision was made to move forward with the high school, “parental comment was closed at that point.”  Another individual was told that it wouldn’t be fair to survey the parents since not everyone at the school speaks English.  A third individual was told that surveys weren’t needed because the school already knew how the parents felt about expansion and it wouldn’t be fair to the ninth-graders.  I have several concerns with these responses.  The biggest, however, is that this is a charter school.  At a charter school, parental comment should never be closed.  The input and involvement of all the parents need to be considered and acted upon, particularly when it concerns something so fundamental as changes in our charter and our school name.  At the last Board meeting, Mrs. Herring stated that in recent weeks, two surveys had been done by parents.  She then gave the results of these surveys.  Since I wasn’t surveyed and no one I’ve talked to was surveyed, I wondered what these surveys were that Mrs. Herring referred to.  Who was surveyed?  What questions were asked?  How valid is the information?  I asked the front desk these questions and the employee there did not know anything about these surveys.  I asked her to find out and get me copies of the responses, but have received no response.  It seems deceptive on the one hand to refuse to do an accurate and unbiased school-wide survey and then on the other hand to quote the results of two independent surveys that certainly don’t represent the views of the entire student body.

5.       Rather than answering questions, providing information, and encouraging the input of teachers and parents at the school, and then leaving it up to the Board to make the final decision, the administration and some Board members have actively campaigned for their point of view.  Students were not treated equally in regards to their high school choice and peer pressure was used inappropriately for the benefit of those who wanted to advocate for a Freedom Academy high school.  These actions have involved students inappropriately, distracting from the learning environment.  Some students took license from the administration’s strong stance to bully those who were attending other high schools or whose parents had opposing viewpoints.   I sent an email outlining some of my concerns about this to Mrs. Herring on May 10.  I received no response to my email and in the ensuing weeks, events of this nature continued to occur:
a.       Students wishing to attend other schools were not treated equally.  Some individuals wishing to register for Provo High missed ideal registration times because Provo High counselors were not allowed to come to Freedom Academy’s campus.  This is a change from prior years.
b.       Eighth-graders who went to the front office asking how to register for Provo High were told “That’s not our problem.”
c.       On several occasions, students signed up for Freedom’s high school were given privileges not extended to other students at the school.  For example, they were taken to a private residence owned by the school for a high school pep rally and pizza party. 
d.       Petitions in favor of on-site expansion were placed prominently at the front office and circulated three different times.  At the same time, those students whose parents signed a petition opposed to on-site expansion were singled out.  Several eighth-grade students in this situation were confronted multiple times by their peers, asking them why their parents signed it, questioning their parents’ intelligence, and saying things like, “I can’t believe they signed it.”
e.       One student planning on another high school had been given a Freedom Academy High School T-shirt for doing volunteer work.  When she wore this shirt on T-shirt and jeans day, she was approached by several students who told her that she didn’t deserve to wear this T-shirt.
f.        Class time was devoted to a debate about whether the high school should be placed on site, with the result that students opposed to a high school were further singled out and targeted.  One student made the comment in class, “If you don’t want the high school here, you should just move away.”  Nothing was done to stop the debate and students who tried to give opposing opinions felt they weren’t given equal time.  The debate continued into recess.
g.       The Board CAO worked diligently just before the last Board meeting to spread the word through the neighborhood that their concerns about traffic and safety had been heard and that the administration was no longer going to recommend on-site expansion.  The result was that many neighbors, feeling their concerns had been addressed, stayed home from this meeting.
h.       At the same time, certain Board members and the administration worked hard to make sure the May Board meeting was packed with those whose opinions matched their own.  Parents with students signed up for the high school were called and personally invited to attend the meeting as well as asked if they were still committed to the high school.  At the same time, peer pressure was effectively used to get the eighth-graders to come to the meeting.  The students were attending Lagoon that day and the word was spread among them that they should come to the Board meeting that night because “Mrs. Parkinson is bribing us with pizza to show up and say good things about the high school.” (a direct quote from a student who was in a friend’s car).
i.        After the public comment period, pizza was served to eighth-graders who came to the Board meeting held in May.
j.        While some of these things perhaps just show poor judgment and not ill intent, the cumulative effect of these events was that many students had a very difficult experience their last few months at their beloved K-8 school. 
k.       These events also cast doubt on what might happen in the future if a high school is added.  Will eighth-graders every year be seen as recruits to boost numbers at Freedom Academy high school?  Will there be division and acrimony and peer pressure every year?  Will students who want to attend other high schools be respected and encouraged in their school choice?  Is this an issue we want to deal with every year?  Freedom Academy is a school of choice, and all choices need to be respected.

6.       Valuable resources – in time, talent, and finances -- are being taken from the K-8 school in order to support the high school and parents are not being informed of these issues.  Specifically:
a.       Despite our charter’s limiting class sizes to 25 students per class and 75 per grade, for a total of 675, budgets are being written that show a total student body next fall of 800 students.  The high school currently has less than 55 committed students.  Unless the school is planning on somehow finding an additional 70 high school students before fall, it is clear that the only way to have 800 students in the fall would be to add students to the younger grades, thus overcrowding the K-8 school and violating our charter.  
b.       The vast majority of time in Board meetings in recent years has been spent discussing, debating, and considering issues relating to the addition of a high school, leaving little time for the important and vital needs of the current K-8 students.  For example, issues of specialties, safety, goals, achievement,  have been put aside on multiple occasions because of lack of time.
c.       Administration and staff members at the current school have spent “countless hours” working on high school-related issues:  hiring, scheduling, dealing with petitions and concerns from neighbors and political leaders, drafting and encouraging the signing of their own petition, finding locations, etc.  This is all time that takes away from the current students.
d.       Electives and curriculum in the seventh and eighth grade this fall are suffering because of decisions about the high school.  French is no longer being offered nor is any language other than Latin.  I asked the reason and was told that Mrs. Flewellen would only have time to teach one French class in the fall and that would be offered only to the high school students.  Latin is now required of both seventh and eighth grade students, with no way to opt out.  Orchestra was cut two years ago and is still not being offered.  In fact, the only choices my eighth-grader was offered for next year was a choice between two PE options for one semester and a choice between art and choir for the other semester.  Our valuable seventh and eighth graders deserve better.  Parental voices need to be heard and their concerns addressed.

Though there are many issues that Freedom Academy needs to address, I do want to say that there are also many wonderful things at this school.  The parents are very involved.  The teachers and administrators are kind and loving towards our children.  Our school’s wellness policy is a model for other schools in the state.  We’ve had some amazing Spanish and music programs in the past that I’d love to see re-instated.  We’ve had some great drama, track, and other programs I’d like to see continue. 

At the same time, many of our most committed parents and teachers are leaving the school because of issues like the ones I’ve described.  Others want to voice their opinion but fear that their children will be targeted and treated differently if they say anything.  I understand these concerns because I’ve felt the same way.  Because of the lack of clear and open communication from the Board and the administration and a lack of tolerance for opposing viewpoints, many of our best and brightest teachers and families are feeling silenced and are leaving the school.  For the good of the school, this can’t be allowed to continue.

It’s time for the parents and teachers at this school to be given a voice.  It’s time for emails to be responded to, questions to be answered, and parents to feel included in decisions.  It’s time for more information to be shared openly so that there is clear communication to rely on, not just rumor.  It’s time for better communication, more openness, and more transparency.  I give my voice as one who wants to work together to see Freedom Academy improve and work through these issues and emerge on the other side as a stronger school.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Expansion News

Neighbors and Friends of Freedom Academy,

You are probably aware that Freedom has a board meeting set for Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm at the school. After extensive review of options and searching for solutions, the Freedom Academy administration will not recommend adding a high school on our current property. The administration will provide the board with options for a temporary location for next years 9th grade. They will also present the board off-site options for a permanent location for Freedom Preparatory Academy High School.

On behalf of the Governing Board, I would like to thank our Director, Lynne Herring, our Financial Director, Chirs Helvey and their staff and coworkers for their untiring effort to find workable solutions. The end of the school year is always busy. Lynne and Chris have worked with neighbors, the Mayor, city officials, local politicians, contractors, real estate agents and spent untold hours in this process.

To our neighbors, we thank you for your input, your concern for our student’s safety, and for your efforts to protect the neighborhood.   We have not always agreed but we have heard you; we understand your concerns and look for opportunities to work together in the future.


Ken Parkinson
CAO Freedom Prepatory Academy

Friday, May 18, 2012

Freedom Academy Board Meeting Announced

There will be a Governing Board Meeting Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm in the school gym.

Please plan to be there and make your voice heard.

The agenda will be posted on the school website calendar no later than 
Monday at 6:00 pm. Visit

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Freedom Academy Community Outreach -- Sign up to get notification of important Freedom Academy updates

Freedom Academy is currently using a software service called Parentlink to contact parents of the school regarding school activities, news, and attendance. ParentLink has now made available to the school a community outreach extension. This allows community members to create accounts on the Freedom Preparatory Academy Parentlink system and sign up to receive messages from the school. We believe that this will allow us the best avenue for communicating with our neighbors regarding important events, meetings and news. The system allows you to create an account and personalize your contact information. You can be contacted by email, phone call, and SMS messages. Once you have created an account it is your responsibility to keep your contact information up to date or unsubscribe altogether. This should help us remain in contact with individuals in the neighborhood who want to be informed. To sign up for an account simply go to, click on News / Upcoming Events, then Sign Up, and fill out the form. You will have to provide an email address initially to confirm your account.

The school and ParentLink will only use the information provided to contact you about school and community information. You data will never be sold or distributed to another party.

If you are a parent at Freedom Preparatory Academy you do not have to sign up for a ParentLink account, one has already been provided for you based on the contact information provided to the school.

If you have any questions about this service please contact the Freedom Academy administration.

Thank You.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Parent Surveys on Expansion

Here is a summary of the results we have gathered from the parents' online survey.

  1. Are you aware that Freedom Academy is looking for a new location for the 9th grade expansion (other than the previously announced off site building on 820 North)?
    • (86.40%) Yes
    • (13.60%) No
  2. I am in favor of Freedom Academy expanding..
    • (36.4%) on site.
    • (31.8%) off site.
    • (4.50%) I don't care.
    • (27.3%) I am not in favor of expansion.
  3. Do you plan to send your children to Freedom Preparatory Academy for grades 9-12?
    • 42.90% Yes
    • 57.10% No
  4. Do you have any specific concerns about building a high school on the current site?
    • Many. Most specifically the traffic issues and the loss of the grass for the current students at Freedom Academy.
    • Safety of my children. Freedom can't even give my kids locking bathroom stalls at the current school (for the younger grades, and my son looks forward to being older, so he can have a locking stall. Sad.), and if they can't keep them safe at their current site, how on earth can they do it with a high school and the added concerns it brings.
    • Space!
    • Safety and traffic concerns need to be mitigated. The school needs to make a financially viable decision.
    • glad they finally tried to make it happen ... it is about time ... don't give up your dream ... like a good neighbor Freedom is here :)
    • NOT AT ALL - There are hundreds if not thousands of high schools and elementary schools together. Teach you children correct principles.
    • Yes there is not enough land to accomidate another facility or additional parking. Not to mention the additional physical risks of having high school students next to young children.
    • Safety of my children walking to and from school, Safety of my children around older students, safety of my children around teenage drivers, influence of high schoolers on the young children, traffic for the neighborhood, rushing the whole project. I also feel that the neighborhood has not been considered.
    • The traffic is my biggest concern. The second being that it will take away from the elementary kids. That's where the focus needs to remain if the school is going to continue to be good.
    • Do not want my young girls going to the same school as high school students! 
    • My only real concern is if the playground/baseball field is removed. The the elementary school children specifically need to have the running around space. 
    • The current site is clearly inadequate for a high school (even a small one). There is insufficient space for student parking, driving range for driver's education classes, or athletic facilities (to get students the all important extra-curricular activities so necessary for college admission these days). I have seen no indication in any of the discussion of precisely how the Board plans to mitigate the current problems with traffic, much less the additional problems that will arise if the school is enlarged. In addition, there is inadequate time to complete a major construction project--even if plans are complete and construction begins the day after the elementary students dismiss in 3.5 weeks (which is doubtful, given the bureaucracy that remains to be navigated, as indicated in the mayor's recent letter), there would be less than 90 days to complete the construction before school starts in August. This seems like a very short time to construct a building that will (at a minimum) have to house science labs (with their specialized needs), computer labs, a reasonably well stocked high school library, musical facilities, art studios, etc., in addition to simple classrooms for math, english, history, and other classes. (Unless the plan is to eliminate lab science, computer science, music and art from the ninth grade curriculum). Any unplanned overrun in construction time would result in an incomplete building for the ninth grade students in August, as well as causing the elementary school students to begin attending school with a construction zone in their playground. The board should consider institutional negotiations with local high schools to obtain favorable placement of the 65 committed ninth graders, in order to properly provide for the needs of the students. This would allow them to carefully plan their expansion over the next year (or two), rather than hastily reacting to the loss of the off-site building with an ill-considered plan for building on the current site. If begun early enough, such negotiation would have a high probability of success, and would go far in retaining the credibility of Freedom Academy. In addition, the extra planning time would allow careful consultation with the neighborhood and the city, in order to come to a mutually agreeable solution to the problems inherent in expansion, thereby improving the standing of Freedom Academy in the eyes of its neighbors. 
    • Traffic, being good neighbors, physical safety of my children, overextending resources, protecting my children from teenage social issues and problems. 
    • Significant loss of green space; and the green space that is left will have to be shared with 400 more students. Are you kidding? Major safety and traffic concerns--the neighborhood is simply not set up to accommodate nearly 1100 students, plus faculty, staff and administration on a daily basis for most of the year. That's ridiculous. 
    • No 
    • The items the board is considering before making their decision. 
  5. Do you have any specific concerns about building a high school off site?
    • I worry that the class selection will be too small and limited and that extracurricular activities will be limited for the children. I think the language offerings at the school are too small.
    • No.
    • Distance, travel, prohibitive costs, more of our student drivers on the road for a longer period of time (dropping off siblings then driving to another location)
    • If they can pull it off, I fully support this idea too.
    • not convenient maybe.
    • No
    • I'm afraid the resources that have typically been used in the past for the elementary kids will be unavailable, and that financially the school will have lots of trouble.
    • Increased traffic in the area.
    • No 
    • Not really. I am in favor of a K-12 school no matter where the school is located. 
    • No. 
    • I think it is a waste of taxpayer money when the area high schools offer an astounding degree of choices, electives, and paths to graduation. 
    • A high school is going to be a high-traffic, intensive venture. Spend more time looking for the right location and opportunity for the high school. 
    • No
    • It will cost more money. 
It is interesting to read the varying opinions of Freedom Academy parents. We continue to urge the school to survey the parents regarding high school expansion. Gathering current parent viewpoints would help direct the school at this pivotal time.

If you are a parent and have yet to complete the online survey, please do and let your voice be heard. Encourage others as well. One survey per household please.

Another view of Freedom Academy's Presence in the Neighborhood

As a member of the Freedom Academy Governing Board I attended the Rivergrove community meeting on Monday.  My remarks represent my own opinion and are not to be construed as representing the Governing Board or Freedom Academy.  I spoke with Bevan afterwards about his remarks.  I was most concerned with this statement he made:

"Property damage and theft has increased sharply since Freedom Academy became a part of the neighborhood."

Frankly, this statement shocked me.  It seemed to be counter to the general sentiment that replacing the old GRA park had helped deter crime in the neighborhood.  It was probably not all that bad to begin with even with GRA park in the state that it was.  Coincidentally, I had done a quick search of crime in the neighborhood on the interactive map on just days before the meeting.  The data on that site only goes back to November 2011, but I didn't see any thing in Rivergrove that looked alarming.  This added to my concern regarding Bevan's statement.  Afterwards, I asked him if he had any statistics or research he could share with me about that claim.  Bevan told me that he did not, but that this was the general feeling in the neighborhood.  He told me it was no longer safe to leave your cars unlocked during the day because things would be stolen out of them.  It has bothered me since so I did a little more research.

The crime reports of the Provo police department seem to contradict Bevan's claim on crime increases. I hope that people in the neighborhood will try and use a little perspective and research when making statements that can draw a correlation between the school's existence in the neighborhood and serious issues like crime.

Provo releases a crime bulletin every month and a larger report each year.  It is located at here.  The latest yearly data is for 2010.  It contains statistical analysis of crimes across the city and includes a 5 year comparison of crime rates broken out by type.  Using the 2010 and 2007 data you can see that the types of crime Bevan refers to (theft, robbery, vehicular theft, and criminal mischief) were all on the rise and spiked or plateaued in 2007.  The rates of these crimes have all been dropping each year since 2007.  The report is a city wide analysis, not specific to the Rivergrove neighborhood, so Bevan's reference to the feeling of the neighborhood may be statistically accurate, but it is impossible to tell.

You can also look at monthly bulletins from March of 2012 - January 2009.  Looking over the monthly data over the last 2 years shows that the Rivergrove neighborhood has seen relatively low rates for these types of crimes compared with other neighborhoods in the city.  Personally, I find it hard to believe that these crimes have been dropping city wide since 2007, but rising in Rivergrove.  I don't mean for this to be a personal attack against Bevan.  I genuinely enjoyed speaking with him and I understand his larger points about quality of life and safety.  I am concerned about those things too.  But I also have a larger point.

I think Bevan's statements are an example of the unfortunate result of the strained relationship between the school and the neighborhood.  Unfortunately, there is no doubt that students at the school have contributed to property damage.  You could infer that some of the students at the school are involved in some of the more serious crimes in the neighborhood just based on juvenile crime rates (though as a parent of the school I hope that is not the case).  But the school has become an easy and convenient scape goat for many things in the neighborhood that affect quality of life.  It is easy to blame the distant organization full of strangers for other problems that exist.  In this specific case, the data doesn't back up the claim.  This claim is particularly damaging as it correlate rising crime rates (which are actually dropping) with the appearance of the school in the neighborhood.  This is not only false, but highly inflammatory.  The same can be said for recent claims that the school will use eminent domain to seize property, that the traffic problem somehow contributed to the tragic death of a construction worker, that the neighbors or anit-charter school, or that they have a"not in my backyard" attitude.  These kinds of statements greatly concern me, far more than the issue of the expansion.  From the mayor's remarks on Monday, and the incredible action that the neighborhood has taken on this issue it is obvious that Rivergrove is full of wonderful, committed, and passionate individuals.  I believe Christian Faulconer's words that the neighborhood would be an advocate for the school.  I hope that we will see this is an opportunity for the school and the neighborhood to foster a relationship that benefits both communities.  But these harsh sentiments are alarming and they exists on both sides of this issue.  If hard feelings, from either side of the argument, are simply vented without any thought as to their implication or veracity it can cause serious damage to any future working relationship.  I urge individuals on both sides to be careful in how they frame their discussion.  While I understand how serious this is to the school and the neighborhood, I would hate to see the potential for a wonderful relationship destroyed over this issue.  Let's all try and be a little more careful when making claims that are based on feelings, not fact.

~ Dan Stovall, Freedom Academy Governing Board Member

Petition in Favor of Expansion On-Site

The following petition has been at the front desk of the school.  I offer it here out of a sense of fairness:

Petition in favor of a Freedom Preparatory Academy High School

We express our support of the plan to expand Freedom Preparatory Academy on the current property.

We recognize that there has been extensive study on this issue.

We know the administration has the best interest of every student in mind with every decision and plan that is proposed.

We recognize that 8+ acres is adequate for the proposed structure.

We appreciate the extra emphasis on having a traffic and safety plan in place.

We are excited for the opportunity for our students to continue to receive an excellent education.

Name                                                                                       Date

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Safety Concerns for Children

Presentation at Neighborhood Meeting May 7th by Amy Frandsen

Congestion and Traffic Concerns by Aaron Skabelund

The following was presented at the Rivergrove Neighborhood Meeting May 8th, 2012:

My name is Aaron Skabelund and I am the vice-chair of the Rivergrove Neighborhood. Both of my sons, who are now at Provo High School, attended Freedom Academy for several years after Grandview Elementary was closed. We were happy to have what proved to be an excellent school close by but troubled by the traffic problems that the school was creating for the south end of our neighborhood.

I have been asked to say a few words about the vehicular traffic congestion created by Freedom Academy. I can offer a fairly objective view of the problem because I have not been personally impacted by the congestion caused by the school. I do not live in the immediate neighborhood most adversely affected by the congestion, my boys walked to school when they attended Freedom Academy, and I generally bicycle everywhere so vehicle traffic jams don’t bother me.

I focus on the problems created by the K-8 school up to this point, not on potential problems of an expansion. The congestion since Freedom Academy arrived in our neighborhood is extraordinary and well-documented. There are many, many examples I could mention. Residents have faced clogged roads each morning and afternoon, and cars idling their engines and blocking their driveways. One couple returning from a trip one afternoon found the street so crowded on both sides they could not make their way down it without taking off another vehicle’s mirror. I could mention other incidents but I think it is best to emphasize two points.

First, the length of the pick-up line in the afternoons is telling. Each afternoon, the line of parents in cars waiting to pick up their children extends down 900 North, around the corner on 1050 West, down 1020 North, around another corner and up 1000 West. (Then there is often a break in the line and additional cars wait in the south parking lot of Lions Park.) That is just the number of vehicles waiting for pick-up, but they are joined by many more cars.

Second, to understand why all these cars cause such problems, it is imperative to remember that Freedom Academy is located on a local or residential street with limited access points. All other schools in Provo, such as Westridge down the street, are located on collector or alterial roads, which have multiple access points. Plus many--though not enough--kids at such neighborhood schools walk or bike to school, and some may even be bussed in. And unlike 900 North, the roads these schools are on are wider and designed to handle much greater traffic volumes.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate that while my family was happy to have this school relocate nearby, a school this size should never have been allowed to be built on a residential street like 900 North.  But it was, and nothing can be done except to try to mitigate those problems.  Faced with this ongoing congestion, which still has not been entirely resolved, it is irresponsible to propose expanding the school, which will inevitably magnify the current congestion.

Neighborhood Quality of Life Issues by Bevan Wulfenstein

This is the presentation Bevan Wulfenstein gave at the Rivergrove Neighborhood Meeting May 9th, 2012:

Recently Freedom Academy announced its plans to extend its current campus to include a high school.

The Freedom Academy Governing Board and School Administration listed 5 supporting reasons for the decision to build a high school next to the existing grade school. In my experience the strongest arguments are often listed last. Item 5 in the list states “If we don’t expand this year, credibility of the school may be placed in jeopardy.” Following this line of reasoning then the real motivating factor for the decision was to not lose credibility. Making decisions to save face are usually made by managers who feel out of control. They don’t want others to think they are not in control or that they have made a mistake. As we see in this case, decisions made to “save face” often just add fuel to the fire. The emotional need to be right overtakes good business sense.

Freedom Academy director Lynne Herring recently said “Freedom is a member of this neighborhood. We have no desire to foul our own nest.” I understand the principle she articulates, but her actions are indeed fowling her nest.

There are a number of reasons it makes no sense to build a high school directly adjacent to a grade school. Most of these reasons have been very well articulated. For me however, safety and quality of life for both students and the neighborhood should take priority over convenience or saving face by Freedom Academy Governing Board members and the School Administration.

Safety: The existing infrastructure was never designed to handle the current high traffic load already imposed by Freedom Academy.  The road isn’t wide enough to handle peak demands resulting in long lines and frustrated residents and parents. There have been a number of close calls where children were nearly run over.

Sidewalks don’t exist in some areas forcing kids to either walk on lawns on in the street.

There are no marked cross walks forcing kids to take their chances crossing roads at peak demand times.

Grade school kids are at risk from bullying and worse from high school kids located on the same campus.

Quality of life: The neighborhood quality of life has suffered considerably since Freedom Academy was built. Building a high school will further diminish the quality of life in an already stressed neighborhood. As neighbors we have tried to endure and make do, but we can’t be silent any longer.

Long lines of cars along 900 north and adjacent streets twice a day are difficult to deal with. A high school and more students will make the lines considerably worse.

Many kids take shortcuts across neighborhood lawns wearing trails though grass.

Property damage and theft has increased sharply since Freedom Academy became a part of the neighborhood. We can only believe these problems will increase again with the addition of a high school.

Please don’t make decisions to save face. . .or that foul your own nest. Find another location for the high school.

Daily Herald Article about Neighborhood Meeting

PROVO -- Residents of the River Grove and Grandview neighborhoods held a town meeting Monday evening aimed at getting their voices heard about concerns over Freedom Academy's planned expansion. The charter school, which has been in the neighborhood for four years, wants to expand from a K-8 school to a K-12 school starting by adding ninth grade this fall.
The school is proposing a three-phase project that would bring an additional 400 students to the Freedom Academy campus, something residents say shouldn't happen because of traffic and safety concerns.
"The school shouldn't have been allowed on a residential street like 900 North in the first place," resident Aaron Skabelund said. "It would be irresponsible to propose to expand, which will only magnify the problems."
The neighbors' list of problems include traffic congestion before and after school, lack of sidewalks and crosswalks for students to walk to and from school and property damage sustained by neighbors.
Ken Parkinson, chief administrative officer for Freedom Academy, said the expansion has been in the works for more than two years and that the school has and still is looking at expanding at another site.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

5/5/12 Letter posted on Freedom Academy Governing Board website

The following letter has just been published on Freedom Academy's website:

May 5, 2012
Dear Parents, Neighbors and Interested Community:

In recent weeks,  some confusion has developed about the intentions and responsibilities between the Administration of the school and the Governing Board (the Board). It has been suggested that the Board is having meetings to plan the expansion of the school without public input. Also, some feel that emailing the Board without a quick response is evidence that the Board is not listening to parent/neighbor concerns.

Friday, May 4, 2012

How should neighbors treat one another?

As a Freedom Academy neighbor and resident in the community, I have always been in favor of a school on the current lot.  However, I was disappointed that no one in the neighborhood was involved in the initial planning and development of the project and we have suffered because of the lack of preliminary planning. 

I am someone that had to change my entire work schedule because the traffic is unbearable. I am someone that has had to tell Freedom Academy students to get out of my yard. I am someone that has yelled at Freedom Academy students, waiting unsupervised for their parents in the local church parking lot, to stop throwing rocks at my house.  I am someone that has confronted kids for kicking holes in the fence my neighbor paid thousands of dollars for.  I am the victim of things being stolen from my yard by Freedom Academy kids.  I AM NOT BLAMING THE KIDS.  Kids are kids and will do childish things regardless of their age or the school they attend.

I am blaming the school that wasn’t held to the same standards that traditional city and commercial buildings are held to. I am blaming the school that told me I was lying about the problems in my backyard, because they had already told the parents not to pick up kids at the church. I am blaming the school that wasn’t considerate enough to conduct a proper traffic impact study before they built such an invasive (albeit beautiful) structure.  I'm blaming the school for not actively communicating their development plans with the community.  I am blaming the school because the primary plan to deal with the congestion seems to be allowing students to loiter on the neighbors' property until the traffic has sufficiently calmed down.  This is not how business should be conducted.

I own a house in northeast Provo. An apartment complex was proposed to be built directly across the street from my home. Before they went ahead with the building, a meeting was held with all the neighbors, building plans were presented and the congestion impact was discussed. After concerns were expressed, the builders adjusted the plans to better account for the increase in traffic and the decrease in parking.  Another neighborhood meeting was held and the adjusted plans were presented.  The altered proposal was not perfect, but still approved by the community.  Later, when funding was unavailable for the apartments, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the property, had similar meetings with the neighbors and made similar modifications to the design before they began construction.

When my company wanted to expand, community meetings were initiated by us to discuss the new building. Although we had every right to construct according to the plans we presented, we eliminated an entire floor of the proposed structure not because it was going to drastically alter the lives of the neighbors, but because they were concerned about how it might obstruct their view.

This is how business needs to be conducted. This is why our city and community is not a horrible place to live, because thought, consideration and planning go into its development. Freedom Academy has not conducted itself openly and our community is suffering because of it.

Additional drivers at all, teenager or parent, in an already overly congested area is a significant problem to me. A school that acts with limited regard and concern for anyone else, including the parents of its students, is a problem for me. The absolute abuse of power by people not affected by any of the negative consequences of their decisions is a problem for me. A complete and total neglect to keep neighbors informed is a problem to me.

Truly, it is silly to assume that the current location can sustain the student growth they are anticipating without having a devastating effect on our neighborhood. Trying to fit two schools, a play area, more parking and over 1100 students and faculty on a lot that is considerably smaller than all the nearby schools (even when you include a virtually unusable hill and exclude city parks near other schools) is ludicrous.  Most of these schools cater to significantly less people, are designed to manage the traffic, and still create mild congestion problems in their respective neighborhoods.

I urge Freedom Academy to consider other people as they make their decisions. Repercussions of construction should be appropriately analyzed before rash choices are made. If a suitable solution to the current and future traffic problem can be found, I will reconsider my position, but as currently organized, it would be selfish and inappropriate to go forward with construction. The destruction of a neighborhood is too high of a cost when so many more options are available.

~ Geoff Nielsen

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Neighborhood Meeting Monday

There will be a meeting Monday -- see information below. 
Please remember to be respectful and civil.

Neighborhood Meeting
For Grandview & Rivergrove Neighborhoods
  Agenda:  Discussion of the proposal by Freedom Academy to expand their K-8 school to include 3 more buildings for a high school on the same property
Date of meeting:  Monday, May 7
Time:  7:00 PM
Location:  Grandview School    
Please come and join in the conversation.  Many neighbors are concerned about the potential of increased congestion, traffic, and other safety issues.  Freedom Academy is projecting an addition of 400 more students with this expansion.  Many of these would be driving their own cars.  The school presently has around 675 students there, most of them are brought and picked up by their parents each day by cars.  If the school goes ahead with this expansion at this location, the school is projecting over 1000 students attending school in this location off 900 North.
When Freedom Academy was originally built, the neighbors thought they had an agreement with the school administration and board that any expansion would be in another location.  The location they chose was on 820 North, but the building didn’t meet building standards so the school is seriously considering quickly building on the present location to house their 9th grade students this fall. 
Mayor Curtis, our Provo City Council representative Kay Van Buren, Senator Curtis Bramble, Representative Keith Grover, and other city and state officials have indicated that they have concerns about the impact this expansion would have on the neighborhood and we expect they will be at the meeting to answer questions and hear your comments.  Representatives of Freedom Academy have been invited and they have indicated that they will also be there to represent their present thoughts and plans.
Please come Monday and make your voice heard.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Can We Afford This?

The following was written by Andrea Perri, a Freedom Academy founding member who wrote Freedom Academy's initial budget and has been very involved in budget decisions as a member of the Board for many years:

We need to be focusing our attention as well as our money on our K-8 students. Their safety and highest education should be goal #1. These are very hard times right now financially.  To add additional high payments when we have no idea what budgets are in store for us next year is not just financially unsound -- it's downright scary. The state gives schools money per student (WPU) and that is what they are to use to pay for a facility as well as teachers and administrators.

We have already undergone many state and federal budget cuts over the last few years, causing us to make the following decisions:

*  cutting specialties
*  cutting teacher prep time
*  moving Mr. Neilsen from a full-time administrator to a part-time one and then eliminating that position altogether
* cutting janitorial services
* cutting teachers' 401k benefits.

I feel like all these need to be put back in place before we look at adding additional expenses based on what the administration thinks they are going to have for the high school enrollment. If there are not enough students based on what they had budgeted for the money has to come from somewhere.  The only place to get money would be from the younger grades.  This could sink our successful K-8 school.  Why should the younger children pay for the expenses for the older grades? Another option they could look at would be to bring in more junior high kids or move junior high to the other building and add additional elementary students.  Anyway you look at that you are potentially messing with the magic we have had.  It is too soon with not enough enrolled students to move forward and it is not in the best interest of the students or the neighborhood to proceed on the current site.  There is not enough acreage to properly facilitate both. 

We need to focus on making what we have better before we look at starting something new.  I know there are a lot of people that have put in hundreds of hours on this, but sometimes you need to sacrifice for the greater good and that is what needs to happen now.  Put aside the personal agendas and pride and make the difficult but right decision.  We need to wait for the right time and the right site before proceeding with the high school at this time.


Andrea Perri

A Chance to Be Heard

Last year, two concerned parents went to a school administrator urging that the parents be surveyed about high school expansion specifics.  They offered to get a UVU class involved in designing a scientific and unbiased survey.  Their offer was rejected.

Recently I emailed Freedom Academy Administrators about putting together an objective survey.  This survey would help them know the opinions of all the parents regarding expansion options and traffic and safety issues.  No answer.

I met with administrators one week ago.  I asked if I could send a survey home to parents in the communication folders.  I gave them a copy of an objective survey.  I stressed the importance of all parents knowing and voicing their opinions and concerns about high school expansion.  I was told that a survey had already been done two years ago.  I asked to see the survey and results and have not received an answer.

I do not understand why the school resists gathering more information.  Much has changed in two years.  Parents like me are new to the school.  I truly wish administrators were more intrested in what parents desire for their childrens' education.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Why the Signs?

From Christian Faulconer:

Freedom Academy is a great school and those of us who live in the Rivergrove neighborhood where it is located consider the school one of our neighbors. Recently our neighborhood was made aware of plans to proceed toward building a high school on the Freedom Academy site. This is something that has been previously discussed and we believe it had been addressed with plans to build elsewhere. Because we feel like Freedom Academy is not being a good neighbor, we have organized to do what we can to make sure that we as affected neighbors are heard by the school administration. 

I think it is important that we are clear about the following points: 

1. As a neighborhood, we are supportive of Freedom Academy.
2. We have previously conceded that we would support the school and its high school expansion plans if Freedom Academy agreed to build OFF SITE. There have been several references to our need to compromise and we feel we have done so, not only in supporting Freedom Academy's off-site expansion, but in our patience with ongoing concerns about traffic, litter, and property damage.
3. We have kept our end of the agreement and have been good neighbors despite the fact that we feel that the school has shown little concern for its impact on us and our property.
4. We will do everything we can to ensure that Freedom Academy keeps its end of the agreement and expands elsewhere. This includes being supportive of the school as it builds a high school at another location. We want to be advocates for the school and we are willing to do that if Freedom Academy keeps its end of the agreement.
5. We want to resolve this the way good neighbors do -- through open communication and by working together. However, we are ready and willing to pursue every avenue legally available to us to ensure that Freedom Academy does not expand at the current site.
In an effort to make ourselves heard, we have written letters to the school governing board, school administrators, as well as city and state leaders. We also printed signs so that it is clear that we do not support on-site expansion. We have done what responsible, organized citizens do in a democratic republic to express themselves. Today we received a message expressing frustration and concern that our signs have scared some of the school's children. Scaring children was not our plan and we hope that our peaceful assertion of our right to free speech can be used as a teaching opportunity. We do not expect everyone to agree with us, but we do expect everyone to honor our right to express ourselves responsibly as we believe we have and we will honor the rights of others to do the same. 
We are in the process of organizing a meeting where we will invite stakeholders from the school (administration and parents) and the neighborhood as well as some of our city and state leaders. We will invite everyone to come and express their opinion respectfully. We believe that the system that we have in this country is a beautiful thing. It allows us to have these types of discussions, disagree strongly, and still leave as friends. If you find anything we have done offensive, we apologize for the offense and we will strive to do better. As I have stated above and in more than one message to the school administration, we want to resolve this the way good neighbors do -- through open communication and by working together. 


Paper Petition

Several people have expressed to us that they have had difficulties signing the online petition. We have created a paper petition you can use to express your concerns. It is below. Please email it to

Freedom Academy Board Members and Administrators:

Please refrain from building a high school on the same grounds as the K-8

These are our concerns:

* The issues involved in building on the current site have not been
explored fully nor is there adequate time to make such a long-lasting
decision before the 2012-2013 school year starts in just four months.
* The Governing Board has not adequately informed the parents or the
neighborhood about this plan and has not invited sufficient public input.
* The impacts on the current K-8 model and students of expanding to a K-
12 model on the same site have not been considered.
* The site is too small to accommodate 400 more students.
* There are already parking issues; these are sure to increase.
* The current site is in a residential neighborhood that cannot
accommodate the increased traffic that a high school would entail.
* Housing upwards of 200 teenage drivers at the same site where a large
group of elementary school students walk to school puts both children in
the neighborhood and those who walk to school in physical danger.
* Housing 400 teenagers on the same site as elementary school students
brings risks to those young children including: Possible Assaults or
Molestation, Bullying, Exposure to inappropriate language and behavior.


Additional Comments:

Letter outlining some concerns

from an email sent Friday, April 20, 2012; a few slight changes have been made for clarity and readability
Dear Governing Board Members,

As I'm sure you know, I started the petition that has inundated your email box the last two days.  My husband attended your meeting on Wednesday night and we felt it important that the neighborhood and parents at the school understand that a high school at the current location is under consideration. 

I understand that some of you might feel some frustration with the neighbors weighing in on a decision that hasn't been fully made yet.  It's worth pointing out, however, that none of us opposed the high school when it was to be located on 820 North. The neighborhood as a whole felt that 820 North has the infrastructure and existing traffic to accommodate a high school.  It's when you're talking about putting the high school on the current site that concerns us.  It's not "not in my backyard;" it's "not at THAT site in my backyard."

The following is a summary of some of my concerns:

Concern #1:  Lack of Communication with the neighborhood and the parents
*   The meeting that happened on Wednesday was only advertised two days in advance AND the email sent out didn't even list a time.  I checked my email and yes, it does appear that there was an email about the change of date on the governing board meeting sent out on the 14th, but that email didn't indicate what the agenda of the meeting was.  I understand that the Board is complying with law in giving the 24 hours notice, but you should also understand that the change you are talking about is not minor.  I'm not sure that the Board could have framed the decision and discussion in any way that would have caused the neighbors to feel this is a good idea, but because of the lack of communication from the school and the Board, you are placed in a position where the opposition is defining the debate. 

*  Except for a survey sent out years ago when the idea was first explored, the parents at the school have never been asked their opinion on the high school.  We have not been consulted on whether we want a high school at all, much less our opinion on its location. 

*  As far as I know, the decision to change the school's charter to K-12 has never been ratified by a majority of parents. 

Concern #2:  Other options need to be considered.
*  The Governing Board has increasingly backed itself into a corner with a series of decisions and mistakes.  First, the charter people who went to the state were NOT authorized to change Freedom Academy's charter to K-12.  Because they did that instead of getting a separate charter for the 9-12 students as was authorized at the meetings my husband and I attended, we are now in this position where the location for the high school is so restricted.  Why can't we consider going back to the state and doing what was originally planned and getting a separate charter for the high school?  Doing so would open up the whole city for possible expansion.  I don't oppose a high school; but I do at that site.

*  What about some of the lots further west on 820 North?  Or going to the state to get a variance on where the location has to be? 

*  Frankly, I don't see a solution other than building at the current site that would get you a high school by the fall (and even building on-site is iffy).  But I don't think that's a compelling reason enough to build at the current site.  Don't make a hasty decision that will impact BOTH the K-8 and the 9-12 grades for decades because you feel an obligation to the 65 students signed up for the fall.  I know it's a huge blow to all the planning and to the parents who were so excited about the fall; but that cannot be the reason this decision is made.   

Concern #3:  Lack of Space on the current site
*  Frankly, the grounds of the school are really inadequate for the students already housed there.  Putting the high school building into the hillside does not make more room in that small field where the kids play.  A high school, to be successful, ought to have more space for outdoor recreation than is at the current site.

*  Extensive grounds are not essential to a college prep environment; however, if you want to appeal to parents, they would certainly be a part of the decision people make to attend.  Frankly, the former site on 820 North was pathetic in that regard; I can see how the current site would be better than that alternative.  However, given enough time to consider other sites, I'm sure there could be some found that would have room for an actual soccer field or track.  At one point, there was a site at Geneva and Center Street that was under consideration that would have had plenty of room.

Concern #4:  Parking and Traffic Problems
* I live in the neighborhood and know of the frustrations of the neighbors with the cars already here.  The only thing the school can do to restrict the drivers is not allow them to park there -- I don't think you can legally restrict a licensed driver from driving anywhere he pleases.  If you restrict the parking, the high schoolers will just park on the street or in the neighborhood like the students do around BYU and UVU.  Even IF it were possible to restrict high school students from driving, 400 additional students mean more families and more cars.  It means more after-school activities and more traffic.

*  There are current traffic problems.  It is difficult for me to get around the neighborhood at drop-off and pick-up; my kids are in danger every day because there is no sidewalk on 1250 West.  Yes, some of it is lingering frustration about "that one time" but if you try and get around the neighborhood at drop-off and pick-up time, you'd know that it is more than just occasional annoyances.  

Concern #5:  Inadequate Separation of Teenagers from Young Children
*  I don't see any way to adequately separate the teenagers from the young kids.  Even if we stagger the times the different groups use the grounds, there are plenty of after-school and before-school times where they will be together, especially during pick-up times.  And as I said to Mrs. Herring, all it takes is for one deviant teen to be alone in the bathroom or in the forest with a little kid. 

*  It's true that deviancy can happen anywhere.  However, my kids don't spend a lot of time away from my influence and oversight except at school.  So if we are talking about keeping MY kids safe (and next year, I'll have six of them at Freedom), then you can bet that I'm going to do everything possible to keep them away from what I consider dangers.  I saw the kind of kids who were attracted to Freedom Academy when it first opened up the seventh and eighth grades.  Parents saw this as a "second chance" for their wayward kids.  There were ten of them or so who were so disruptive that they were kicked out (correct me if I'm wrong).  While I would hope that the high school would only attract the best and brightest, the fact is, it's a charter school, not a private one. Anyone is welcome to apply for the lottery and when there's pressure to fill seats in order to get enough funding to pay off a building, as there will be at least for the next four or five years, it's not likely that the students will be of the best quality.  The fact is, there are only 65 students for the fall.  There's no waiting list and there's also no guarantee that all 65 students are even planning on attending Freedom.  Some of them could well be keeping their options open by keeping their spot there "just in case."

And we're not just talking about possible molestation, which I agree is not going to be happening every day.  We're talking about bad language, public displays of affection, bullying, etc.  I don't want my kindergartner to be around teenagers that aren't their siblings on a daily basis.  Every parent I've talked to so far feels the same way.

Concern #6:  No Guarantee that any Promises made to the neighborhood would kept
*  I understand that many in the Board think the problems inherent in a high school are solveable.  However, we have no guarantee that any solutions you bring forward and are accepted by the neighborhood will actually stay that way in the future.  For example, the current Board might set up separate times for the high school to start, but who's to say that a couple years down the road, another board is tired of hearing complaints from parents about having to drive to school four times a day for pick up and drop off?  At that point, they could go back to the same start times for the sake of convenience.  Unless there are legally binding decisions made, the neighborhood and parents are going to oppose this.  You know how varied the Board's opinions currently are and that the Board's make-up changes often enough that a thoughtful, wise solution made by the current board could be thrown out on the whims of another one.

*  There have already been promises or implied promises made that have not been kept.  For example, at one of the first meetings, I was told several times that there would never be any pressure to attend the Freedom Academy high school.  I've also been told more recently that "we understand this school won't be for everyone."  However, from what I understand, the school has not allowed the counselors from Provo High to come to the school and register the interested eighth-graders as has been done in the past.  Furthermore, I understand that at least two eighth-graders went to the front office and asked how to register for Provo High and were told that they were on their own to do so.  I was told today that all the students who were signed up for Freedom High School were invited to a meeting where they were served pizza, while the other eighth-graders were excluded.  I'm not sure what happened at that meeting and I'm hearing these things second-hand and they might not be completely accurate.  I would love to hear an explanation, if you have one.

Concern #7:  The impact on the current, successful K-8 model has not been thoroughly considered.
* I don't have access to the research on this computer, but at the original meeting where the separate charter was authorized for the 9-12 grade, we brought several studies that showed the benefits of a K-8 school.  Until I see research supporting a K-12 model, I stand behind that.

I love Freedom Academy and have been an enthusiastic supporter for many years.

I'm not against a high school, but I am against a high school at that location.  I hope there is a Freedom Academy high school built for interested students and I hope it's wildly successful, but as long as the current site is under consideration, I will do all that I can to oppose it.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my concerns,

Christina Bartholomew