Inside Education: Vote ‘Yes’ on budget

On May 9, voters in Ridgefield decide with their vote whether to support or reduce the school operating budget. We believe our school system provides a high-quality education at a good value and deserves your support.

Ridgefield’s public schools deliver quality education efficiently. Ridgefield currently spends $16,523 per student. That translates into 10% less than Wilton and 15% less than Weston. In dollar cost, if we spent what Wilton spends per student, our school budget would be almost $10 million more than it is. Also, relative to our peer group, our administrative costs are among the lowest. We are able to maintain this efficiency while also maintaining small neighborhood elementary schools.

And our education is effective. In 2016, our six elementary schools were recognized as Schools of Distinction in Connecticut’s Next Generation Accountability Index. We are the only school district in our Demographic Reference Group (DRG), which includes Wilton, Weston, New Canaan, and other schools, to achieve this level of success. In later grades, our students perform well on all standardized assessments and go to competitive and most competitive colleges similarly to other DRG high schools.

A quality school system is not evaluated on just academic outcomes. A high-quality district must meet the needs of all the students. Recently, we have been investing in the technology in our schools to build the skills that create opportunities. In every classroom we are improving the learning for kids of all abilities. All classes in our middle schools are becoming more dynamic when all students use modern tools. In 2017, we will be revising our district’s success report to include how every student is improving, not just our highest achievers.

RHS students succeed in the highest level of science, math, and social science competitions. Ridgefield youth artists are winning prestigious national competitions as well. Our National Spanish and Latin exam results are enviable. The Ridgefield Press has brought attention to our exceptional student athletes — boys and girls —  who not only win state championships, but represent our town well wherever they travel.

We want to have a vibrant community where families want to move. New families support the economic vitality of the town and ensure the investments we make in our property are stable. The uncertainty created by our state government has never made this investment more fragile. Each year we hear the first selectman remind voters that the schools are the economic engine of the town — we agree.

Please express your support for our schools and the town of Ridgefield by voting to support the school budget.