NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk.DailyVoice.com accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the Editor,
A school district budget is not an arithmetic problem. A budget should be the district's long range student education plan. The current reconciliation plan is simply an arithmetic problem to arrive at the magic number. It is not a plan for student success.
All principals were called to the central office on Friday, June 1, to meet with Dr. Marks; we were not provided the list of cuts. Eventually, the list was released later that afternoon by email as part of the BOE packet and in preparation for the June 5 BOE meeting.
The elementary principals received an email on Thursday, June 7, at 10:03 p.m. In other words, they went to school on Friday, June 8, and learned the school specific elementary teacher cuts via the email.
At middle school, the top administration, without input, cut middle school team leaders, security staff, the only intervention teacher assistant who is not program specific, assistant principals to 11 months, library teacher assistants, after-school sports, and an assistant principal at West Rocks and Ponus. In addition, four teachers were cut.
Middle schools are not high schools. At high school, courses are created based on enrollment. At middle level, all academic classes are required and are delivered through grade level teams. There are a few related arts courses such as foreign language, computers, and music from which students can choose. Due to the enrollment at Roton and Nathan Hale, split academic grade teams are in operation, meaning that some teachers teach outside of their grade level team but within their certification (which is required by state law). Middle school principals have made recommendations for other reductions in lieu of four teachers. Those recommendations have not been responded to at this time. School leaders know what is best to meet the needs of students.
When Dr. Marks did not produce a reconciliation document, Steve Colarossi, BOE Finance Chair, did so and received criticism. Someone had to get the reconciliation process moving. Steve's plan called for fewer teacher reductions and was more supportive of the schools. That plan was never discussed by the BOE at any time. Instead, on June 21, the reconciliation was blindly passed (7-1) with less than 30 minutes of discussion. Obviously, budget discussion did not take place publicly, but it did take place over the BOE email. Perhaps that email should be a part of a Freedom of Information process. The public is entitled to know the board's discussion leading to their rationale to support the superintendent's reconciliation and without debate.