This is an open letter from the North Haven Education Association to the North Haven Board of Education, Board of Finance, and Board of Selectmen outlining our positions on the 2012-2013 budget recommendations that are currently under consideration by the Board Of Education.
The NHEA agrees with the new academic support positions Superintendent Dr. Robert Cronin has requested:
Math coaches, K-5 language arts program coordinator, intervention specialist, computer teacher, middle school autism teacher. These are positions to provide support for both staff and students to improve academic performance. We would even suggest increasing this support. Rather than eliminating special education positions, why not provide more intervention teachers and utilize these educator’s skills to further support the academic needs of our struggling students?
Where we disagree with the proposed budget:
We believe that the elimination of pupil personnel service staff such as social workers and a psychologist removes the support our students need for their social and emotional wellbeing. This is a key element of learning. We must consider the impact this will have on the success of students in North Haven public schools. Without these two critical pieces, children will not be available to learn.
In past years, North Haven has prided itself on educating the “whole child.” These staff cuts will directly impact and likely reverse this philosophy. It is important to recognize that significant changes have occurred in the responsibility that schools have to supplement the traditional support that families have provided.
Why is there a recommendation to cut back on the support our students need in one area of their lives in order to provide it in another? We feel that this is a false choice. Dr. Cronin must make this choice, unless the Board of Education is willing to seek more funding for next year’s budget and allow the district to meet all of the needs of our students.
We believe the Board of Education has an obligation to advocate on behalf of the students of North Haven by asking for an increase in the education budget, which will begin to address the funding shortfalls that have been present for years. We ask that the board work to begin to close the gap in per pupil expenditure that has been increasing for quite sometime.
First Selectman Michael Freda once addressed the board and said, “If you have a need, I will support it.”
The students of North Haven have educational needs. Now is the time for the Board of Education to advocate for the funds to support those needs. The NHEA will work with you to convince the selectmen, Board of Finance, and town’s people to support your budget. However, if the board does not make the request, none of these groups are aware of the need.
In the past, boards would base their requests on the needs of the students and defend those budgets to the Board of Finance. Elected officials and the people of North Haven must be allowed to make decisions based on complete information. We believe that an increase of 2.86 percent in next year’s budget will not fully meet the needs of the students of North Haven. Not recognizing (and listing) the many student needs that are not included in this budget will result in the town leaders and people of North Haven making decisions based on incomplete information.
We look to the Board of Education to provide true leadership and ask for an increase that meets the needs of our students, and work with us to convince everyone that we must to do more, even if supporting this position is uncomfortable.
President North Haven Education Association