Reader Questions Cutting After School Programs, POLL

Full day kindergarten or After School Programs, which do you think is more important?



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

Arthur Hill June 26, 2012 at 08:29 PM
NK - very interesting comment. I hope that isn't going on today. tired... - anyone who pays taxes should be allowed to vote. Renters pay taxes indirectly, so I have no problem with them voting. People who don't have a stake in the outcome, shouldn't be allowed to vote.
NewtownRocks June 26, 2012 at 08:58 PM
The position we are in has nothing to do with how we vote on the town and school budgets together. The problem is the cost of education increasing faster than people's incomes and after a while it reaches a tipping point. We are at the tipping point. The sky is not falling and Newtown will not be in crisis if this budget does not pass. Eventually a budget will pass or it will go to a town meeting where only reductions are allowed. Either way Newtown will move on. Now only 30% of voters keep showing up. No one has any idea what the people in the middle think. Most probalby do not care that much or they would show up. A lot of folks in the middle can absorb a 1%-5% increase without too much pain. So they skip out on their civic duty and decide not to vote. It they showed up it would probably pass easily. I think school services should be rolled back substantially and am willing to keep voting no. Schools have expanded so much in what they provide outside of education. It is not really necessary and ultimately creates runaway costs.
jms63 June 26, 2012 at 09:12 PM
You are absolutely right. Parents in town want a huge budget to work with for education - yet every time we can get some commercial business in town they whine --"We need open space for soccer fields - where will our children play their taxpayer funded sports??? Residents can't - and SHOULDN'T do it anymore. Parents should be responsible for their own kids.
Paul Ricard June 26, 2012 at 10:01 PM
And how about those who don't pay their fair share don't get to use anything we have paid for with our taxes, like roads, mail, police, fire, or clean air!
Alex Tytler June 26, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Looks like a low turnout today. The counter was 2520 at 4:20 pm.
milfseeker June 26, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Sorry folks, You lost my confidence when you dumped the owner operators under the cover of darkness. I still voted NO!
milfseeker June 26, 2012 at 10:33 PM
We have been down this road in the first three votes...they are not adding money back. This vote no add more stance is only going to hurt the children more. Wait till these children become adults and see how the real world works. Manage with what you have just like I am. No raises in my house for the last 3 years. oil goes up, food goes up, taxes go up. Maybe after these kids have to reuse a textbook or two and the every classroom cant have a jumbo sized smart board......perhaps they should use the Newtown budget as a basis for a class on economics?
Alex Tytler June 26, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Looks like a light turnout today, 2520 at 4:20 pm. That portends defeat!
Alex Tytler June 26, 2012 at 10:53 PM
This next No vote gets us to Zero % increase.
Les June 27, 2012 at 12:26 AM
The Budget failed by 19 votes.
Teacher June 27, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Agree with Robert wholeheartedly about the apathy thing. Not so much the zero increase, but definitely the apathy. VOTE!!!
sadielee June 27, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Nice Job Bruce/PO. You really showed them. You will now lose more money from your side
yoda June 27, 2012 at 01:14 AM
The dark side has come over to Newtown; the community future is uncertain, very sad day for Yoda!
dave T June 27, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Paul I live on a private dirt road, no recycling service, a po box and I pay for stamps and a dump pass... I have no children in the system and would love to know where the newtown air purification station is.... would be happy to get a refund on all the services i don't use...
Tullius June 27, 2012 at 01:36 AM
not a sad day, a happy day. The school side has been slashed enough, now it's time for the town side to share the burden. How about $500k cut from the selectmen's budget? That would get my yes vote.
milfseeker June 27, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Did you hear that?.....................................wait..........there it is again........yes indeed it was me and 18 of my friends raising our beer mugs and clinking to a toast! This is a very very good day indeed
Jacqueline Jensen June 27, 2012 at 01:39 AM
It looks like we need to educate the adults in town, not just the children. Let's start by learning the word COMPROMISE.
milfseeker June 27, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Give us back our bus drivers, and get rid of our superintendent and I will consider voting yes. That is a COMPROMISE
Bob Attanasio June 27, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Amazing that some of you will agree to pay out an extra $1.5mm for no added value, yet penalize the kids and ultimately take a poison pill on your property values for a few dollars more a month.
Michelle Ku June 27, 2012 at 02:23 AM
At first glance it appeared that perhaps that is what the last budget was - a compromise with both education and the town making cuts to their budgets. However, as Pat Llodra so rightly pointed out, simply making proportionate cuts to both budgets is neither logical nor necessarily the best practice. It is far more complicated than that. First, as a society, our priority should be to educate our children. We should not be “rolling the dice” with the education budget while putting hundreds of thousands in a savings account for a rainy day. Second, the money has not been evenly distributed through the town according to need. As an example, can you imagine if we asked the people at Town Hall, the library and police station to supply tissue, soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels for the public facilities? Yet that is what we already ask of teachers and parents at the beginning of every school year. And now we are considering cutting more from the school supply budgets among many other things. This is not compromise.
milfseeker June 27, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Sorry Bob, its not about the money, Its all about the way it was done. If you looked very very hard and followed the blood lines you would find the corruption. try to remember this post and I will email it back to you when Allstar sinks the financial knife in our back. its just a matter of time and we will be looking back at this and saying "I told you so"
jms63 June 27, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Let's start by learning the word NO!!!
jms63 June 27, 2012 at 02:29 AM
NO has to start somewhere...
Michelle Ku June 27, 2012 at 02:41 AM
How about a class in civics? Where everyone learns that a “no” vote means nothing more than “reject” - historically, legally, practically. And that taking away the voice of many "no" voters by threatening to cut more if they don't vote "yes" is wrong.
Erica Barber June 27, 2012 at 02:46 AM
When the IPN and the BOE promoted their transportation savings they forgot to offset it by the value of community solidarity and trust-
MILFHUNTER June 27, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Alex Tytler June 27, 2012 at 04:10 AM
OK jacky compomise. You are going to compromize .91%. I'm glad we got that straight.
Amo Probus June 27, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Dual income families are not entitled to use the schools to baby sit their children after regular school hours. Parents, not the community, should pay for after school activities. Use the funds to improve the curriculum, don't use it to simply pay more to tenured teachers.
Jessica June 27, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Parents DO pay for after school activities! Nothing in this town is free. It's understandable but we do pay for activities on top of our taxes that we get hardly anything for. I remember when my daughter started Reed Intermediate, the summer reading program was free. Now, If I want my son involved I have to pay! To read? Ridiculous.
jms63 June 27, 2012 at 05:05 PM
The Booth library summer reading program is free - it started today but you can still sign up. Reading is always free at the library along with many other activities in Newtown - you just have to do some research.


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