After reading the letter below, take the poll: Which programs are important to you?
June 24, 2012
To the Board of Education Members:
As a former educator, Youth Services’ professional, and long time community volunteer, Ihave, until this year, been supportive of Newtown’s budgets. Of my ten years tenure with a local youth serving agency, a majority of time was devoted to after school activities. It was my pleasure to work with both Middle and High School students and teachers.
The benefits of A/S programs have a long track record. Numerous times our agency had waiting lists. The need was great but personnel were few. The BOE has witnessed multiple presentations of the advantage of A/S programs. You’ve seen the data from CADCA. Our local police have weighed in on the issue. The often cited hours between 2 and 6 PM are critical ones for maintaining our youths’ attention and channeling them in a positive direction. All one needs is to be in the center of Newtown when the Middle School isdismissed!
I would like to reference a passage from Dr. Robinson’s budget presentation: “The potential ‘Instructional Program’ cuts include all elementary after school activities, allReed Intermediate School after school activities, all middle school after school activities & sports” I would also like to note two BOE members. In the June 8th edition of The NewtownBee, BOE member John Vouros stated, referring to the issue of full day kindergarten: "It's going to be very difficult to be cutting teachers… and instituting a new program."
Mr. Hart spoke at the special BOE meeting on June 19th regarding FDK and A/S activities. Iparaphrase his comment:”.…is it more important to the FDK group to have that programinstituted or is there a greater advantage to those partaking in A/S activities for that agegroup?”
As a musician and student of the arts, I respect and understand the need for such programs.Not every student is an athlete or scholar. Music, Art, or Theatre seem to be another scapegoat for the elimination of programs. Another proposed cut is for the Directorof Music teacher to become classroom teacher (elimination of music teacher at theelementary school, HS music teacher to move to the elementary and the Music Director willteach at the HS).
Didn’t we go through this earlier this year???? I thought it was decided at that point that the position was no longer in jeopardy. Do you recall how many parents and students spoke to the value Jane Matson has added at the High School? She has produced wonders with the Choral and Theatre programs at the High School. Why is there a need to alter a successful program? Why does it seem we take one step forward and two back?
We are all aware that once cut, it is next to impossible to reinstate. I respectufully request a breather. Step back. Assess the cuts that are proposed and the additions forecast. Do not eliminate existing programs for one that appears not fully vetted. It also appears to be a point of great vacillation on Board members’ part! Wait one year. Fully investigate anddiscuss advantages and disadvantages of various programs. Work to regain the faith andtrust of townspeople and educate tax payers on the subject. Despite a delay of one year,Newtown would still be well in time to comply with the Common Core State Standards.
Newtown was very good to our children. Both are products of the K-12 Newtown system. In fact, one is now a teacher. I believe it is important for us to return in kind. However, when the time comes that a long time supporter questions the integrity of a budget, it’sa sad time. In my opinion, the system being proposed now is broken; it is intrinsically flawed. Please do not compound the issue by acting with haste. Let’s get this right. We owe it to the children ~ and the taxpayers.
Roseanne G. Loring