- Duveneck PTA Executive Board
- United States of America
The Duveneck PTA Executive Board is planning to purchase high-end desks and chairs for 8 classrooms (4th & 5th Gr classrooms) with the stated goals of 1) providing a more flexible and adaptive learning environment, and 2) providing ergonomic benefits around posture, comfort and health. The total cost to purchase 200 desks and 200 chairs is $74,000. This is six times more than the cost of our conventional desks and chairs.
We believe it is fiscally unwise to spend $74,000 on untested high-end furniture, the benefits of which are yet to be proven and which may not warrant the cost. Here are a few questions and concerns that show we need to take a more conservative approach:
1. How necessary is it to purchase high-end tables to make classroom environments flexible and adaptive for learning? Our current tables and desks still allow teachers to reconfigure their classrooms. With the new desks, will teachers rearrange their classrooms more frequently, even multiple times a day, as suggested? And will this materially affect our children’s learning outcomes?
2. We are piloting a custom-made chair that has no track record. We do not know what issues may arise with it over time. Already with the prototype sample we received, we have determined that 70% of the 4th graders in Rm 23 cannot lower the chair (they are not heavy enough), thus negating one of the key stated benefits of this height-adjustable chair. The vendor is currently working to fix this problem, but it seems reasonable to have this problem resolved before we purchase the chair.
3. One of the issues the chair is meant to address is a deterioration of upper body strength in students. How serious an issue is this in our community? The fact is that in the latest California Physical Fitness Testing (2013-2014), 93% of Duveneck fifth graders fell in the Healthy Fitness Zone (HFZ) for upper body strength. This compares to 66% statewide. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/pf/pftresults.asp
4. Have we considered other more cost-effective solutions? For example, educating kids on how to sit properly would benefit all Duveneck students, giving them the benefit of good posture habits any time they sit, wherever they sit. Adding appropriate activities and exercises into the PAUSD PE curriculum would also be a cost-effective way of building upper body/core strength for every PAUSD student.
5. Additionally, an eight-classroom pilot requires us to spend $30,000 of PAUSD funds. With the parcel tax coming up for renewal in May, we are concerned about the message this sends to Palo Alto taxpayers.
Therefore, we believe the PTA Executive Board needs to take a more measured approach. For example, a smaller pilot of four 5th Gr classrooms would still allow us to test the effectiveness of the furniture while reducing the financial and political risks and allow all 5th graders to use the new furniture. Alternatively, we could survey the Duveneck community and gather more input so we can really identify the issues we are trying to solve, in the most cost-effective manner, and benefiting as many Duveneck students as possible.
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We, the undersigned, do not support an 8-classroom pilot of "agile" furniture and call on the Duveneck PTA Executive Board to refrain from approving the purchase of 200 desks and 200 chairs.
We believe it is fiscally unwise to spend $74,000 on untested high-end furniture, the benefits of which are yet to be proven and which may not warrant the much higher cost. Additionally, with the Parcel Tax coming up for renewal in May, we are concerned about the message this sends to Palo Alto taxpayers.
Instead, we ask the Board to consider other alternatives such as 1) A smaller pilot of 1, 2 or 4 classrooms which still offers the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of the furniture, while reducing the financial and political risks or 2) allow for more community input so we can really identify the issues we are trying to solve, in the most cost-effective manner, and benefiting as many Duveneck students as possible.
The No to 8-Classroom "Agile" Furniture Pilot petition to Duveneck PTA Executive Board was written by Duv Parents for Fiscal Responsibility and is in the category Education at GoPetition.