Because what fun would back to school be without a little drama?
Drama-free part first... two boys, ready and raring to go! (Complete with jackets because it is back to cold here... if we ever had summer - not so sure we did - it is apparently officially over.)
And we had a rainy drive to school.
A rainy, rural drive, even more rural-looking than usual since our village is still closed due to the work on the bridge in the middle of it, so we have to take the back way through the forest and the fields.
Noah sat right down to do a puzzle, he had no problem feeling at home. This is what he has been waiting for, and we had no doubts he would do well.
Benjamin found his spot, too, and is very proud of being a "big" first grader this year.
However... (drama-filled part here):
I'm afraid that yesterday was NOT the day we hoped and longed for over the past three and a half years. Granted, we did get silence at home which was blissful. But the bliss pretty much ended there.
We've had a bit of a population explosion in the villages. As many of you know, the boys attend a one-room schoolhouse which goes from 3-year-old preschool through first grade. There are about 14 kids in the 4-year-old preschool class, which last year was an adjustment when they were in the 3-year-old class, since normal class size here is about 5 or 6. This year, there are also about 13 kids in the 3-year-old class. Add one kindergartener and about 9 first-graders, and we are up to a whopping 37 kids, for one teacher, and one aide.
Entirely too many kids in one room, in other words - and several times worse once you count in the age range.
There are 26 kids in 2nd through 5th grades.
The upper grades' teacher's husband called over the weekend to inform us of the situation and explain that we, the parents, needed to complain to the Inspection Académique and ask them to open a third class - something that is entirely possible from our point of view because we have a renovated schoolhouse in our village (which the Inspection changed from "closed for renovation" to "closed forever" without informing ANYONE, even the mayor of the village), and because there are 20-some jobless teachers in the department.
The inspection refused the request when it came from the teachers, and the teachers consulted their union, who said they are powerless to change anything, only with parental involvement *might* things get changed.
Accordingly, I worked long and hard on my letter... only for my printer to decide it was finally, utterly, and undebatably out of black toner just before I printed the letter. And it refused to print the letter even if I changed it to blue. So I had to hand-write the whole thing out instead.
Imagine my disappointment when I saw that other parents hadn't even bothered to write a letter at all, but signed the photocopied form letters someone else had prepared. Sigh.
Due to the overcrowding, the teacher requested that parents of 3-year-olds pick them up after only an hour if possible. Another great dilemma for us, because I *do* work, but I work from *home*... what to do.
This type of situation is all too common in the villages in France. To look on the "bright" side, we're lucky to be on the side of a refusal to open a new class rather than the Inspection telling us they are closing an entire class.
We hope for a response from the Inspection today, though we have no idea what form the response will take.
Had we known earlier that this would be an issue, we could have just kept Noah home this year (although that would just put the problem off for a year) - but he has his heart set on going to school now...