Parental involvement seems to be a major part of the school's success. The administration and staff are very supportive of parent engagement in and out of the classroom. The PTSA supports the school with aides in addition to programs and social events. The curriculum is 'one size' per the district's instruction but teachers we've had were all flexible to provide a challenging level appropriate for each child.
This school is inconsistent, to say at least. There are both great and terrible teachers. The math program in Bellevue is horrible, and both school and district is deaf to parent's concerns. The school resists to any parent's objections and concerns because it goes against their 'feel good' policy. 'Substance' is sacrificed, so everybody can 'feel good' about the school and curriculum. The PTSA seems to subscribe to this 'feel good' policy as well. I went to meetings where the principal asked parents not to tell their opinion directly, just through notes, etc... Indirect participation is much easier to control.
School has a great environment for learning but lacking in substance. The school is definitely divided when it comes to the community. The school is very diverse and yet there is a division among Asians and Whites.
Unsafe playground: the ptsa, the administration and the teachers are begging to get more parents to volunteer on the playground, but there has been little response. The principal needs to fix this problem, but hasn't. The school district needs to insure the safety and well being of our children on the playground.
Our son, now 19, went to Somerset. Now we have a 5th grader there. The school has consistently provided an outstanding learning environment with the highest caliber of teachers, and huge parent involvement. Only two comments. This may be a district issue as well: 5th grade students should not be forced to play an instrument. They should be given the choice to play one or not play one. Band & Orchestra should be separate classes made up of only those students, as they are in middle and high school. DARE: Canceling this program was a huge loss for Somerset. This program should have been salvaged at all costs.
With 4-5 classes of each grade, getting a great teacher is a 'hit or miss' experience. We have a new principal and the building is new and very impressive. However, Somerset is very crowded and congested; the parking lot at the begining and end of the day is a safety nightmare. Their 'new' math program seems like an experiment with no proof that it will educate the children any better. Somersets stark racial demographics divide the school socially. This is extremely disgouraging as no one seems comfortable to speak up to address the situation or to suggest ways to mend the divide. It's is only spoken of in hushed tones among the parents and accepted as just 'the way things are' ... which is very sad indeed.
Somerset Elementary has an exemplary reputation in the community as a place for excellent learning complemented by extraordinary parent support. Test scores on the WASL and Iowa tests continue to rank extremely high. Membership in the PTSA is higher than any other elementary school in the state. Because of its demographics, Somerset Elementary does not receive the additional state and federal funding for which other schools qualify. The principal, therefore, must manage funds very closely with the meager budget dollars allotted. PTSA funding has helped and will continue to help to provide funds for field trip transportation, classroom supplies, instructional aides, assemblies, and many more. The school building will be demolished at the end of June 2003. A new state-of-the-art building will be built in its place and ready for occupancy in the fall 2004. Students will attend Somerset at a temporary location for the 2003-2004 school year at Bellewood.