Bergosh Pens Handwritten Letter To Student On Carver/Century Closing

June 5, 2008

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Escambia County School Board Member Jeff Bergosh received a handwritten letter from a Carver/Century K-8 School student opposed to closing the school, and he responded with a handwritten letter of his own.

In the letter to Bergosh, who has repeatedly advocated closing Carver/Century to save about $680,000 this year, the student expressed their concerns about an 18 mile trip from Century to Ernest Ward Middle School or 25 miles to Ransom Middle School.

“That would be a really long bus ride. Plus if I were hurt or got sick at school my mom would not be able to pick me up and take me home. I like to participate in sports and other after school activities. If I go to another school, I probably would not get to do those things,” the student wrote.

“These concerns are valid and they are real. But, I can assure you that if the decision is made to close Carver/Century, the district will bend over backwards to help you and your classmates adjust to the change. I guarantee you that,” Bergosh wrote in his response.

In his letter, Bergosh did not deny that he was the driving force on the school board for closing the school.

“I will not attempt to assign blame to others as I have been the one member of the board who has continued to advocate the closure of underutilized facilities to save money. Unfortunately this includes Carver/Century,” he wrote.

But he said he believes the closure and consolidation of the school would be a positive move for the students.

“In my heart I believe that the closure of Carver/Century, if this occurs, will lead to a positive outcome for the students who currently attend your school,” Bergosh wrote.

Below is the complete text of the student’s letter, followed by the complete text of Bergosh’s handwritten response.

Mr. Bergosh,

I am a 7th grade student at Carver/Century K-8 School. I’ve read articles in the newspapers or on the television that my school may be closing. I am proud to be a Carver/Century blackcat. I want to know where I will be going to middle school if this school is closed. Ernest Ward Middle School is 18 miles from here. I would have to wake up earlier than I do now to get to school on the bus. My mom would not be able to drive me there if I were late getting ready. Another school might be Ransom Middle School. It is about 25 miles from Century. That would be a really long bus ride. Plus if I were hurt or got sick at school my mom would not be able to pick me up and take me home. I like to participate in sports and other after school activities. If I go to another school, I probably would not get to do those things. Thanks for taking time to read my letter.

Sincerely,
A Student at Carver/Century.

June 3, 2008

Student at Carver/Century,

Thank you for taking the time to write. I understand your concerns regarding the potential closure of your school. I do not take lightly any decisions that affect students, and I understand that if Carver/Century school is closed, this will be difficult for you and your classmates. I will not attempt to assign blame to others as I have been the one member of the board who has continued to advocate the closure of underutilized facilities to save money. Unfortunately this includes Carver/Century.

If the decision to close Carver/Century is made, the district will save roughly $600,000.00. This is a large amount of money, and will help us out of our current financial crisis. At the heart of the reasoning for the closure and consolidation of schools is the necessity operate more efficiently to save money while at the same time allowing every student the opportunity to attend a safe and effective public school. In my heart I believe that the closure of Carver/Century, if this occurs, will lead to a positive outcome for the students who currently attend your school. The plan for the middle school students would be to have them attend Ernest Ward Middle School. Ernest Ward is a fantastic school with excellent students and faculty. Ernest Ward Middle is also ranked as an “A” School by the state and has been an “A” school for a number of years.

Your classmates at the elementary level would most likely attend Molino Park Elementary or Bratt Elementary. Both of which are “A” rated schools by the state.

As far as your concerns about participation in extracurricular activities, I understand that this will be a challenge. I also understand your other concern about an earlier bus departure and also the fear that if you are sick at school this will make it difficult on your parents. These concerns are valid and they are real. But, I can assure you that if the decision is made to close Carver/Century, the district will bend over backwards to help you and your classmates adjust to the change. I guarantee you that.

Most importantly, I want to make sure that I re-iterate to you that no decisions have been finalized on closing Carver/Century. I cannot tell you with 100% certainty what will happen. I can only say that decisons on this budget have been very difficult, and I appreciate your input. I will take your concerns into account as I wrestle with the idea of closing this school.

Regardless of what happens, I feel confident that you will continue your education, you will do well in school, and you will end up being a valuable member of your community. You will also learn a lot about yourself and your classmates if the decision to close your school is made. The important point to note is that you have distinguished yourself by taking the time to write me a hand written letter and express your concerns. Thanks for being a part of this process!

Sincerely,

Jeff Bergosh
Escambia County School Board, Dist. 1

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