Letter: Keep the teachers

To the Editor:

Board of Education budgets are being cut and, consequently, we need to make tough decisions about what we value most.

It is my opinion that three of the most important criteria for student success are small class sizes, ample classroom instruction hours and student one-on-one access to teaching staff. (For example, high school writing conferences with one’s English teacher.)

I commend your Feb. 20 decision to restore two high school English teaching positions and 1.2 elementary art teaching positions to the proposed budget. (On the disappointing side, we are still looking at a loss of one full-time high school teaching position.) But, unfortunately, we need to acknowledge that the Board of Finance will likely deny the proposed 4.23% budget increase and these positions will be back on the chopping block. I urge you to listen to your community, stay the course and not allow that to happen. There are other places to make budget cuts in order to protect our teachers, our most valuable resource. Take a much harder look at the planned expenditures for consultants, professional development, new software, new hardware, digital learning, Teacher’s College, teacher coaches, and central office staff. These line item costs do not directly touch our students and must be critically examined and cut long before even one teacher’s position is eliminated.

The loss of teaching positions will invariably result in higher class sizes, diminished instruction time and less student-teacher one-on-one interaction. These elements are crucial to the success of our students and schools. Make the cuts elsewhere. Add back the non-essentials when our budget is fiscally more robust.

But, for now: keep the teachers.

Catherine Neligan

Ridgefield, Feb. 25