Letter: School officials’ plans need to consider all students
Published 6:41 am, Saturday, June 27, 2015
Renovation of Holland Hill versus Mill Hill. General Education versus Special Education versus Enrichment spending/programs. Free and Reduced lunches (9.8 percent of the student population) versus the rest of the district.
The Fairfield public school district is becoming increasingly divisive at positioning groups against each other, rather than finding ways to equitably distribute resources to meet the needs of all Fairfield students. Pitting one group against another only serves to take focus away from the educational topics at hand.
Take for instance the elementary school additions, why is the administration rushing the Board of Education to make a decision as to whether Holland Hill or Mill Hill will receive funds for building expansions rather than looking at utilizing excess capacity in the other elementary schools? Why hasn't the administration and superintendent provided the BOE with an analysis or recommendation to support this decision? The school director of operations recently stated that Fairfield can still meet the budgetary constraints of the waterfall plan with two smaller-scale projects at Holland Hill and Mill Hill. That being stated, the core and space facilities at both schools can be addressed on an equal timeline and students at both schools can concurrently benefit from building improvements.
Given Fairfield elementary enrollment is down from last year, as stated by Chairman Dwyer at the June 9 BOE meeting, why is the district looking to increase building capacity at the elementary level? When the Riverfield Elementary expansion is complete next fall, elementary schools within the district will have at least 300 plus vacant seats.
The Fairfield public schools should look at redistricting to fill the 300 plus vacancies at the elementary level and to address Fairfield’s Racial Imbalance Plan which has not been effective to date. To comply with the Racial Imbalance Law, Fairfield’s plan offers pre-K programs at Burr and Dwight. Has the administration provided the BOE with an analysis evaluating the full cost associated with the current Racial Imbalance Plan, since the plan has proven not to stabilize racial balance within the district?
Before the Board of Education makes any decision on capital spending, Fairfield residents should be asking the administrators and superintendent to truly analyze the data (rather than talk about “data teams”) and provide impartial fact-based recommendations evaluating all options.
The district needs to provide the best plan for all Fairfield students, as well as be fiscally responsible with our tax dollars. Chairman Dwyer and the administration need to stop forcing decisions without providing proper districtwide analyses. Rather than choosing which elementary school should be expanded first and creating unnecessary debate and tension between two schools, the district should be utilizing the excess elementary school capacity, and renovating, not expanding, both schools. These recommendations have been made at the board table by a few board members, but have been ignored by the chairman and central office. The district does not need to choose one school over another when it can upgrade both, while saving the town money by forgoing unnecessary additions!