To the Editor:
The Bessemer Education Association took great offense to Kim Wright’s swipe at the reputation of Bessemer Area Schools and the community of Bessemer as a whole. The Bessemer school community excels at educating students and supporting its school. This is proven by Bessemer students’ consistent high scores on state standardized tests, national recognition and reputation as top school of choice in the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District.
Wright has spread misinformation and ignored facts. The BEA is questioning his comments referring to special needs students being asked to leave the Bessemer Area School District. To clarify his misinformation, roughly 15 percent (67 students) qualify as special needs students, and three full-time special needs instructors do a stellar job educating and supporting these students.
Secondly, all special needs students require an individualized education plan. Each IEP is created by trained staff in the student’s home district and members of the GOISD. Some students qualify for programs offered through the ISD, which are a perfect example of the pairing and sharing programs encouraged by the state.
This particular ISD program has 3.5 students from Bessemer, as well as students from Wakefield-Marenisco and Ironwood. Without the combined efforts of the GOISD and three local schools these students would miss out on excellent educational programs.
As a school board member, Wright should be aware that state law sets a very taxing and full curriculum which the Bessemer Area School District exceeds within its offerings. This curriculum prepares students to achieve at high levels. Wright should know all school taxes are collected by the state education fund and are redistributed unevenly to school districts as a foundation grant.
Gone are the days of operating millages. Schools receive a set dollar amount per child (some schools receive much more per student than others) and Bessemer is on the low end of the spectrum. Wright should be proud of Bessemer students and the school. He should not fabricate stories which undermine Bessemer students’ many successes.
In closing, the BEA would like to state its disappointment in Wright selling the district, administration, staff and especially the students of the Bessemer school system short. It is unfortunate that a school board member would not only air his misguided complaints in a letter to the editor, but also belittle our children’s numerous high achievements.
Richard L. Matrella