Greenwich Moms wants to address the recent conversations within the community as the BET is mulling over different options in cutting funding to the education budget. We understand these are trying times and many hard decisions must be made as we brace for an economic downturn. With that said, in light of the recent conversations, our community of moms have and will be a voice in shaping this decision. Our goal has always been to connect the community and in this case we share your concerns and the needs of the families that shape this great town.
As the discussion evolves, we will highlight the relevant players making these tough decisions and putting them on record if they choose. If they do not choose, we will then report their reasons and let the public decide. We look forward to opening the discussion and engaging town members.
In the time of Covid-19, is it not more important to budget for schools to make up for all the learning lost due to quarantine? What about the potential increase in private school students transferring to Greenwich Public Schools due to the pandemic’s impacts of parents’ salaries? We would think the GPS needs to add to or at least maintain their resources rather than strip them down.
We have children who are currently surviving a pandemic and it’s impact. They have not seen their friends, played a game of tag on the playground, learned something from a dedicated and certified teacher… This has an emotional impact, and in some cases has resulted in an educational digression.  These kids should be able to return to their schools and be met by the best of what we can offer them, not the bare bones.
There are various rumors swirling around town and there is no one telling moms of GPS students what is actually on the table here. Everyone is on edge as it is and we think communication is key!
This is what we know so far:
The BET (Board of Estimate & Taxation) has proposed drastic and potentially devastating cuts to the Greenwich Board of Education. These cuts may equate to $4.5 million to both the operating and capital budgets. These “cut backs” could drastically change Educational Services for ALL children.
How will this affect GPS families?
• 30-50 teachers can be facing job losses!
• Class sizes may increase to between 30-40 students.
• You could lose programs, such as ALP, music and arts.
• Sports programs will be compromised.
• Schools could close as one BET member suggested closing the Parkway Elementary school all together…
1. Closure of Parkway takes away the only public school option available to all residents of backcountry Greenwich, which is 60% of Greenwich’s land.
2. Reallocation of current students to other schools in town creates constraints on transportation for families. The time spent not only driving to and from, but also waiting in the drop-off and pick-up lines which are congested at other schools. Please note that North Street serves access to Greenwich Catholic, North Street, GCDS, Brunswick and Greenwich Academy. North Street congested traffic is well noted in the mornings and afternoons due to this, and others commuting to and from businesses in town. This will add to the congestion and travel times for all.
3. Closure of Parkway creates a transportation issue of IEP and Special Education services for the population in backcountry, as some students are unable (physically or emotionally) to be bussed to other schools to accommodate the services. This further can increase costs and/or time for affected parents. The additional transportation need also increases expense for GPS.
4. In addition to the above statement, there has been increased demand for Parkway in the backcountry, 2020-2021 Kindergarten class is being quoted as 3 classes versus the usual 2 classes.
5. Closure of Parkway directly impacts the property pricing and overall real estate value of backcountry, as Parkway is a draw for families to move close to Merritt Parkway and backcountry. Parkway is a School of Distinction and listed on various real estate search engines as a top ranked school, which many buyers use as criteria for where they purchase a home.
6. Closure of Parkway will create an impact on their wellbeing, both emotionally and physically. Emotionally the children will have to adjust leaving a school, peers and teachers that they know, trust and love. Physically, with more students for the school Nurse to attend to, it is not certain everyone will get the same level of attention that is provided by Parkway’s Nurse.
7. Possible elimination of teacher(s) position(s) deprives the GPS education system of talent and drains the teachers’ resources financially.
8. Closure of Parkway will directly impact the caseload of related service providers. The caseload of service providers at North Street will increase.
This coming Monday, April 27th, at 9 am is the FINAL meeting of the BET. We need the BET members to know that education is vital to the betterment of our community. They need to hear our voices in support of our Board of Education’s Budget, including our much-needed capital projects and the critical operating needs of all our schools.
Please find information below if you are interested in emailing the BET:
To contact the full Board of Estimate and Taxation, please email: bet@greenwichct.org
Individual BET members can be reached as follows:
NAME /EMAIL
Bill Drake William.Drake@greenwichct.org
Andy Duus Andy.Duus@greenwichct.org
Laura Erickson Laura.Erickson@greenwichct.org
Karen Fassuliotis Karen.Fassuliotis@greenwichct.org
Debra Hess Debra.Hess@greenwichct.org
Miriam L. Kreuzer Miriam.Kreuzer@greenwichct.org
Elizabeth K. Krumeich Beth.Krumeich@greenwichct.org
Michael S. Mason Michael.Mason@greenwichct.org
Leslie Moriarty Leslie.Moriarty@greenwichct.org
Jeffrey S. Ramer Jeff.Ramer@greenwichct.org
Leslie L. Tarkington Leslie.Tarkington@greenwichct.org
David Weisbrod david.Weisbrod@greenwichct.org
Please find a drafted letter below that you are welcome to work off of:
bet@greenwichct.org
RE: Proposed Budget cuts to the BOE
To the Board of Estimate and Taxation:
We have learned that members of the BET have suggested cuts of up to $4.5 million to the Greenwich Board of Education next year, which would drastically affect our children in school. We strongly implore you to consider how this would impact us. Compromising the academic growth of our children is NOT acceptable.
We are all aware that our Town does not have unlimited funds, especially now as our community is dealing with health and financial issues related to the pandemic. We chose to live in Greenwich, and to support the public education system, specifically because of the stellar reputation of public school education which would be severely impacted with these suggested cuts. An increase in class size, loss of school programs and closing of an entire school(!) – there must be a better way. We do not support this budget cut.
[Your names], Parents of [child’s name and grade]
 
Fred Camillo only controls the town side of the budget and the capital projects up to a certain point, then it is all on the BET. He has readily answered our questions but unfortunately can offer no insight as to the actual deliberations on how the BET is going to pare down their budget.
BET Virtual Decision Day (Monday, 4/27/2020 @ 9:00 am)
https://www.greenwichct.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/4730?fileID=47258

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