Letter: Parents need a public forum on redistricting

To the Editor, the Board of Education, Superintendent Gary Cialfi and the First Selectman:

Thank you for presenting the findings of the redistricting study at the BOE meeting. As you can see, there are many concerns among Trumbull parents regarding the two remaining proposed redistricting plans, “A” and “D.” One of the biggest concerns is that we have not been provided the opportunity to ask questions and discuss this very serious decision collectively. We, as parents and citizens, are requesting this to be scheduled immediately as a Town Hall meeting between the Board of Education, the superintendent and the population of Trumbull at large. Further, we request that this Town Hall event be held prior to any BOE redistricting votes and prior to the Town Council budget vote, which is currently scheduled for Tuesday, April 22. We all understand that time is of the essence in this and the correlated budget process.

PLEASE, do NOT ignore the concerns that voters of Trumbull have with the quality of education in our town.

While there were many good points made by parents with varying perspectives from different schools, I am confident that we all come to you with concern and a common goal that appears to have escaped this redistricting process. That is, to provide every child in Trumbull with a complete and equitable educational experience.

The proposed plans A and D appear to take the path of least resistance to alleviate the current overcrowding at Frenchtown and they rely on predictions of declining enrollment in subsequent years to return the schools to a more “comfortable” level. What is not factored into this equation is whether or not there is parity among schools, classrooms or the student experience across Trumbull. While the Middlebrook community stands ready to welcome any additional students through redistricting, isn't it more of a question about utilizing our collective resources properly?

It does not seem fair that a child in any one school would sit in a portable wearing a winter coat in their classroom, or have minimized art programs on a cart (whether for one year or more) while students in another school have classrooms and resources to spare. As proposed in plans A and D, why should one or two schools carry so much of the burden and sacrifice programming when other schools in the district do not? We all pay the same taxes and all of the children deserve an equal level of education.

Plan A is completely not viable. It simply transfers the problem. With Plan D, there is still the question of additional 4th and 5th grade students who may also transfer with their younger (K-3rd) siblings from Frenchtown. It is hard to have confidence in a plan that fails to immediately remove the portables in all schools as intended. Additionally, there are variables in these proposals that may cause the same overcrowding at Middlebrook as currently found at Frenchtown, even just one year later.

As a concerned parent, I turn to you as the administrators of our children’s education to ensure that any redistricting plan adopted adheres to the following:

• No school will reach an enrollment level that negatively impacts educational programming (art on a cart, music on a cart, etc.)

• All portables will be eliminated

• Resources, including specialists, will be appropriately allocated to schools based upon need and student population, rather than evenly across district

• Parity in class sizes across district that do not exceed current “guidelines” in effect

• A comprehensive look at how any new redistricting will impact middle school levels to avoid future need for short-term redistricting

• Lastly, all of these points are to be achieved for the 2014/2015 academic year.

While there will be people that agree in part and some in whole with the above, the fact remains that we all care, and we all want and expect more from our elected officials.

I look forward to hearing your reply and the opportunity to speak in a public forum regarding this issue.

Scott M. Kokosa

Middlebrook Parent