Parents, teachers raise concerns at BOE town hall
FAIRFIELD — With the school year nearing the halfway mark, parents and school officials are preparing for the upcoming semester and beyond.
And with that, there are some foreseeable bumps.
Some of the prevalent topics brought up at the Dec. 13 town hall included mold and air conditioning issues at several schools and the Early Childhood Center. Around 15 attendees were at the event that lasted over two hours.
Just last week, Superintendent Toni Jones and Executive Director of Special Education Robert Mancusi presented their short and long-term solutions for the ECC to the Board of Education.
The short-term solution recommended to take place next school year involves splitting up the ECC between its current location at Fairfield Warde High School and Stratfield Elementary School.
Long-term answers, the superintendent said at the Dec. 11 meeting, would require more input to reach an informed response. Some options that have been floated include building a new ECC facility or adding to the Mill Hill School project.
Jerriann Mitchell, a speech language pathologist at the ECC since 2004, expressed concern at the administrators’ recommendations.
“We have stressed the importance of staying together,” Mitchell said. “While I understand that the focus on the upcoming year is critical, it’s very hard to decide when only a short-term solution is posed.”
Board of Education Chairman Christine Vitale said that the board would have to explore all available options regarding the future of the ECC and that the long-term solution is yet to be discussed at length.
“I understand the frustration on the uncertainty,” Vitale said. “We want a long-term solution and also want to ensure stability for the students that are there now.” The education board will address the recommendation at its Jan. 8 meeting, and members of the public will be allowed to comment on the item.
Meanwhile, parent Melissa Travis inquired about how the board would resolve the issue of heating and air conditioning at schools where it’s currently absent.
“Unfortunately, one of my son’s first memories of kindergarten is coming home sick because it was so hot,” Travis said.
Board of Education Member Jennifer Leeper said acquiring the means for air conditioning at all schools was a long-term investment and that short-term solutions were also being looked into.
“The superintendent is working with the director of operations to put together a proposal for the town, and this is going to take a lot of resources and engineers to go to all schools to figure out the cost of installing means of fresh air and air conditioning at all of our 17 facilities,” Leeper said. “It would have to be presented to the town either to be bonded or up for a vote ... but it’s something we’re taking very seriously for our children and our staff.”
Board of Education members, while thanking parents and teachers for bringing up issues, also called on them to continue advocating to other town bodies that are crucial in making budget decisions.
The next Board of Education meeting is a budget presentation scheduled for Jan. 8.