Friday, April 15, 2016

Another Parent Speaks Out on Potential School Cuts

Catherine Roberts, a Moody School parent gave this address at Thursday's Common Council meeting.

Ok, so I’m here tonight instead of home reading with my kids helping them prepare for a successful day tomorrow to beg you to relook at the budget and figure out how you can get Dr. Charles the full requested budget for next year.

I have a second grader and kindergartner at Moody and another one a few years behind. We have had a wonderful experience so far but I can assure you there is nothing extra! I don’t walk around the school thinking look at all this waste and ways we could cut to save money. I don’t see anything you can cut!!! In fact my second grader is in a class with 23 kids. 23 kids of all different levels with ONE teacher working really hard to help them all succeed with focus obviously going to the children below grade level. For kindergarten she was in a class of 16, for first grade she had 23 but there was a full time interventionist assigned to the room along with the teacher but now in second grade we are down to one teacher for 23 kids. She is doing well but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you how disappointed my husband and I are at how much slower her pace of learning has gotten.

The fact that two great teachers at Moody were notified of non-renewal is just devastating and makes me sick thinking about what next year will look like. You see my kindergartner is in a class of 18 kids currently with 17 or 18 kids in the two other classes for kindergarten as well. Our hope is that when he moves to first grade there will be three classes but with two teachers already being told not to return there is a sinking feeling in my stomach knowing that this budget will likely only support two first grade teachers leaving easily 26 kids in each class.

Other residents who are not in the schools are indicating they don’t think this is a problem and that they were in classes with 30 kids and turned out fine. I assure you that today, in 2016, in Middletown, 26 kids in a first grade class is completely unacceptable. The range of abilities and challenges the kids coming into our schools face are not the same as in the past. The classroom will include kids needing special education and behavioral issues along with kids at or above grade level. How is one teacher supposed to be successful with that?

From the redistricting information I found that approximately 50% of the children in our elementary schools qualify for free and reduced lunch. The way I understand it is that at best case that is a family of 4 trying to make it here in Middletown on $44,000 a year. And for many in the free and reduced program the situation is much worse. Unfortunately, the needs of the children here in Middletown are only getting greater and any slight decline in the population is completely offset by this fact.

I’m reaching out to you and everyone else in the community begging you to help us. Help us with the money we need to educate our children but also asking you to come in and volunteer and help with the large classes in the classroom or at lunch or on the playground. The kids need one on one attention even if it’s just to help open a snack or make sure they don’t get hurt on the playground and as you can see the budget doesn’t even come close to supporting that. If you have a green thumb we are looking for someone to coordinate the moody school courtyard garden. The father who was doing it left this year for a magnet school.

Middletown, please don’t let us down. We are the families trying to stay and raise our kids here and want to know we have your support.

Thank you, Catherine Roberts


Anonymous said...

Very well said Catherine!

Anonymous said...

Catherine could you explain the extra 12 to 16 million the boe get we are spending about 20000 per student in Middletown

Sarah said...

It's actually 16,500 and Greenwich spends 20k. If you factor in that 50% of our elementary school children are free and reduced lunch vs what the Greenwich demographics looks like I think we are doing pretty well. Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to educate the children in Middletown but I think the investment is worth it. Do you live in town? Which school are your kids in? If you let me know who you are maybe we can chat more?

Michael said...

This statement is well written and echoes my own sentiments as a K-6 public school music teacher in another district. I'm not sure I've heard any dissenting arguments of why we shouldn't provide what is being requested. If the problem is more money, why not ask us (the taxpayers of Middletown) what we think? I, for one, am not opposed to paying a little more for what is needed. Why are assumptions being made that we (the people of Middletown) can't have what we need both for the town and for the schools? Why is anyone cutting anything? This is the 21st century. It's not like before. Education is more diverse and more complex. Standards have changed, and so has the level of accountability and efficiency. There are increased expectations in every area. We're preparing our community's youth for both the current day and the future, not the past. This effects everyone - not just those who have children in public school.

In short, please fund the requested budget (and then some)!