As a story in the Courant made clear this week, the Board of Education managed to slice the $1.8 million from its proposed spending plan that town councilors demanded. But they could only do it by slicing away muscle and lean, not just fat.
According to the paper, “In a 4-3 vote, the board chose to eliminate one position in the middle school Quest program for gifted and talented students. Clare Kindall, Bruce Putterman and Terry Schmitt voted against the cut. The other 4-3 vote eliminated plans to rollout $19,500 worth of new software at Aiken, Bugbee and Norfeldt schools.”
So the budget is whacking just one existing employee, a middle school Quest teacher. I’m told the teacher who will probably lose her job is among the best we have, energetic, idealistic and talented. It breaks my heart that we’re rejecting her and the kids who love the program so much. I appreciate the three board members who refused to vote for the cut.
I wish those who are so hellbent on slashing school funding would try to explain to the kids who are losing a teacher they love why this is happening. It’s despicable.
At the hearing last night, the Board of Education heard lots of ideas for paring the proposed budget, according to today’s story in The Hartford Courant.
“Hall junior Alex Porter suggested reducing the school year by four days to trim costs,” reporter Fulvio Cativo wrote in his story. He added that school board members said that’s an idea that’s being explored.
Board members “said they would consider eliminating curriculum specialists, cutting the funds for conferences and meetings and discontinuing Norfeldt School’s magnet program,” the story reported.
Bruce Putterman, one of the school board members, said cutting all-day kindergarten is not on the table unless the referendum leads to a defeat for the budget.
Theresa McGrath, of the West Hartford Taxpayers Association, warned, “This is not the year to play politics or scare tactics,” according to the paper. That’s almost funny.
But I especially liked this: “People don’t move to West Hartford for the tax breaks, they move to West Hartford for the education,” said Kiernan Majerus-Collins, one of two Bristow Middle School sixth-grade students, who asked the board to save the Quest gifted and talented program.
That’s right on the money, kid.
Filed under Alex Porter, Board of Education, Bruce Putterman, budget, education, Fulvio Cativo, Hartford Courant, Kiernan Majerus-Collins, News, Norfeldt, Quest, referendum, Schools, Theresa McGrath, West Hartford, West Hartford Taxpayers Assocation
The superintendent is offering the Board of Education lots of ways to slice Quest from the budget. It could whack a teacher or two, or it could ax Middle School Quest, or it could lop off Elementary School Quest. I guess we should be grateful he didn’t urge tossing the Quest kids out on the street to save a few more bucks.
Really, this is perhaps the most important test of all for our town leaders. If we don’t provide the gifted and talented students with the opportunity to shine that Quest provides, then what are we? As a town, we have a special responsibility to our best and brightest. What kind of message do we send to our rising stars — and to househunting families — if we pare or eliminate the showcase program for our highest achieving students?
In the wake of the town council’s awful decision to slice $1.8 million from the proposed school budget, something has to give. Now we know what it might be, and it’s terrible.
The Board of Education has posted a list of potential cuts to reach the new budget goal that it never wanted. You can see the list in PDF form here.
Just scroll through the list and it will make your heart sink. Extending world language education down to kindergarten? Gone. Quest? Gone. Extra help for our most troubled schools? Gone.
They’re even eyeing a return to half-day kindergarten at Aiken, Bugbee, Duffy, Morley and Norfeldt — a policy reversal that flies in the face of every expert’s recommendation. Those same schools might also see class sizes rise by FOUR students apiece. That’s terrible, too, since smaller classes are key for getting results.
Go through the hit list yourself. Everyone will find different things that make them queasy. If this happens, it would be a giant step backward and a slap in the face of our hard-working students, who deserve better.
And what’s really worrisome is that even with all these cuts already looming, the West Hartford Taxpayers Association is pushing for a referendum because it wants MORE cuts. This is so ludicrous that I don’t know where to begin. What kind of town are we creating here? Our leaders need to do better, all of them.
Filed under Aiken, Board of Education, Bugbee, Duffy, education, Morley, News, Norfeldt, Quest, Schools, town council, Town government, West Hartford