If you have a child that needs an IEP or other accomidations do not send your child to Blacklake! I have yet to talk to a parent that has a professional experience with them. Not only was I flat out lied to on several occasions, they also by their own admission did IEPs wrong and incorrectly gathered data for evaluations. If you need to deal with the school or the district always bring witnesses. On several occasions I needed my witnesses to stand up and say what really happened. Protect yourself and your special child and find another district if you can. My experience has been devastating.
I attended BLE for the full seven years. It's a great school; the teachers (well, most of them) are so kind, and so are the students. I had no bullying issues in my whole seven years. The teachers, principle, office staff ect. listen and help. BLE has wonderful band and orchastra programs. Students will most likely attend library and writing class once a week, and P.E. and music twice a week, with amazing and caring teachers. Two things this school should improve on are lunch and the physical structure of the school. They serve a lot of the same meals over and over again, and it just gets boring! Some lunches are bad quality, too. And, the walls of this school are rocky and tough. One of my classmates fell and the wall pierced right through their knee! They definelitely need to fix that. Other than that, this school is amazing! I recommend this school 100%!
I have three boys at BLE ranging from Kindergarten to 6th Grade and have been very pleased. My eldest moved here in the middle of third grade reading well below grade level (was NOT as thrilled with his old school!) and with their excellent reading program got the extra help he needed and was at grade level and beyond in a few months. Also really impressed with the writing program. Not as thrilled with the typical problem of elementary schools being geared more towards girls (how they learn...sitting still for long periods...not as much hands on learning...non-boy friendly books chosen, etc) but think that is a national problem, not a BLE problem. Have been pleased with all the teachers my children have had and think the principal is very approachable and willing to work with parents. The PTA is active and offers many fine programs. Wish the school offered ART in the curriculum (although they do offer an after school program for a fee, at least). Class sizes seem very reasonable (27 in 6th, 22 in 2nd and 17 in the K classes my kids are in). We love BLE!
I wrote the 2008 review below but a lot has changed. Since 2008, there has been a huge turnover in special ed staff. We have a new principal, school psych & director of special services. Since '08, were on our 3rd OT. 2 special ed teachers have left and they are reducing from 1.5 special ed teachers down to one special ed teacher. The speech therapist and a reading specialist are leaving this year. Some of the new staff are great, but the overall change has been horrible. My son went through a whole year of getting no work done due to his disability. The IEP team was not cooperative and it took us going higher and higher in the district before we got results. Meanwhile, a year passed with virtually no instruction. You have to fight for what your child needs. Hard.
I have had several children in this school for the past 8 years. BLE got a new principal last year. Several teachers make a good attempt at tayloring their teaching to the individuals in their classroom. The special ed staff is genuinely caring, but individual programs tend to be cookie cutter based upon diagnosis and what resources the school has available. There has been a shortage of speech pathologists for several years (they only work certain days of the week at this school, so no child will ever 'need' 5 days a week therapy), and this drives how often your child will receive services. Shop carefully and consider whether or not your special needs child will be just one of the kids, or whether a lot of time will be spent separated (physically, socially or academically) from his/her peers. Play nice, the administration can get unpleasant.
Black Lake is a great school! The administration is always willing to work with you. I have enjoyed working with Mr. Sawatzky. He brings a fresh approach to our school and is very willing to try new things. I also respect that when things don't go as planned, he is right there to back you up and try something else. It's been a pleasure having him as our principal.
They provide a good academic and social setting. Every grade has music, art, PE and library as part of their weekly activities. There is also a strong presence of parents and their involment in this school.
I have a similar view of the principal! He treated me poorly when I talked to him about a concern I had. He made it very clear to me he was in charge and not me. WOW....never been treated so poorly by an educator in my life. I would also, like to address the counseling. It is pretty much non existent!!! Students are supposed to feel comfortable going to a counselor when there is a problem! Hard to do when the counselor labels kids, makes no effort to address problems a child might be having and makes them feel unwelcome! All of this is too bad since most of the teachers are great. In order for a school to be successful though it has to have balance in all areas! Sorry, to see the last principal Mr. Smith go!!! Mr. Smith had a very open mind and cared about ALL STUDENTS!!!