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The Student News Website of Francis Howell North High School.
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Feb. 8 Board of Education Meeting Looks to Intensify or Calm Nerves Among the Francis Howell Community

Members+of+the+Francis+Howell+community+hold+up+signs+to+show+their+disapproval+with+the+Board+of+Educations+removal+of+the+Black+Lit.+and+Black+History+classes+at+the+Jan.+18+board+meeting.
Credit to Laney Quandt
Members of the Francis Howell community hold up signs to show their disapproval with the Board of Educations removal of the Black Lit. and Black History classes at the Jan. 18 board meeting.

On Feb. 8 the Francis Howell Board of Education will hold their monthly meeting two weeks before it’s typical time of the third Thursday of the month. In recent months, each meeting has had one outlying subject take center stage- the removal of the Black History and Black Lit. courses in the Howell high schools. The removal garnered mainstream attention from the media and the board has been under extreme scrutiny ever since. After the events of last months meeting where many students and adults alike showed up and were very vocal about their stance on the subject, a reading of the new proposed curriculum will be read a loud. Even though an updated curriculum for the classes seems to be returning in some form during the 2024-2025 school year, many members of the community will be upset, if in their words, “unnecessary changes” are made to the curriculum.

“At this point I’m trying to keep a positive outlook on this situation and I hope that our board makes the right decision to make all of our students feel included,”  8th grader Sophia Johnson who spoke at the Jan. 18 meeting said. “If they reinstate this class I will still take it when I go into high school next year. However, if they decide to whitewash it by reworking the curriculum to leave parts out, I will be voicing my criticisms. I believe history should be taught the way it really went.”

The new curriculum reading for those two classes will be read along side 15 others such as elementary school math courses, fitness courses and math courses for the high schools. These curriculums will not be finalized at the board meeting as it’s a first reading of the new/updated curriculums that are still subject to change by the board. Other topics that were posted in the board meeting agenda include a construction update for projects such as the new Francis Howell North school, discussions about purchases that would cost over $25,000 and a presentation highlighting girls in STEM throughout the district. Board member Janet Stiglich hopes to see many young faces within the district show up at the board meeting to express their thoughts or concerns about any decisions that’re made.

“Personally I’d like to see more kids and young adults show up and be vocal at our upcoming board meeting,” Stiglich said. “It’s so important to go to these types of things as a student so you can vocalize your opinions since I do my job for the students and I want to hear your thoughts so I can do what’s best for students.”

Board member Jane Puszkar has been under heavy scrutiny by parts of the community for a comment she made regarding the new curriculum for the Black Lit. and Black History courses at the Jan. 18 board meeting in which she implied that the board already had a new curriculum in mind before one was proposed to them. This comment has caused a divide amongst the Francis Howell community as some people are worried that any curriculum proposed will be vetoed as the board already knows what they want the course to look like. Others feel as if this comment was taken out of context and the backlash towards Puszkar is unfair.

Puszkar was reached out to for comment multiple times but no response was given. Members of the community plan on questioning the board about this at the upcoming board meeting. Father of a student in the district, and declared candidate for the upcoming board election Stephen Blair calls this comment a massive overreach on Puszkars behalf.

“Director Jane Puszkar slipped up and mentioned that they’re already aware of a curriculum that they will approve that makes it so there’s no delay or break in these classes being offered,” Blair said. “That means there’s a board member likely in conversation with the rest of the board who already have their mind set on what the curriculum will be. That means teachers, admin and students are virtually wasting their time sharing their thoughts with the board. A board member is not tasked with writing and creating a new curriculum and this is a huge overreach that needs to be called out.”

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Anyone interested in attending the board meeting can do so by going to 801 Corporate Centre Drive from 6:30-8:30 on Thursday, Feb.8. For those interested in speaking at the board meeting, a link to the sign up form can be found here. If you can’t attend the meeting in person a link to a livestream can be found here.

 

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