Letter: What do schools value?

To the Editor:

At the Jan. 11, 2016, Board of Education meeting, Dr. Baldwin spoke eloquently on the importance of healthy start times and acknowledged that current start times are harmful.

On March 3, 2017, at the PTA budget meeting, Dr. Baldwin stated that the budget represents “who we are and what we value.” Does this mean we value cookies and carpet over healthy children? Or maybe we value working on the easy stuff and postponing challenging work, despite the risk to student health.

It has been 14 months since Dr. Baldwin and the Board of Education acknowledged the harm we are doing to students with early start times, yet little progress has been made since.

The EduLog transportation study contract, which we were told began several months ago, was actually signed on Feb. 23. As of March 1, EduLog had not signed the contract and, as far as we know, no work has been done since nothing has been presented.

Not one budget item was questioned by the Board of Education or cut to allow for healthy start times. Yet there’s money for carpet, cookies, paper, postage and an awful lot of mileage. It’s not too late to make healthy start times a reality in 2017-18.

Board of Education: You can get it done if you roll up your sleeves, give EduLog strict deadlines (there are none in the current contract), and make this your top priority. Show the parents, taxpayers, town boards, and the children that you are listening to the medical experts and demonstrate through action that student wellness of body and mind is what you value.

Many districts larger and more complex than Ridgefield Public Schools have changed start times in just a few months. Ridgefield Public Schools can do it now. It may not be easy, but it is necessary. Isn’t the physical and mental well-being of our students worth a little hard work?  

Gigi Christel