Keep Newtown's Educational System Great
By Dana Los
To the Editor:
My family and I are relatively new to Newtown. We moved last July from New Milford. We moved almost solely to find a better school district and community to raise our children (now in fifth and third grades). We have found Newtown to be welcoming, friendly, and have found the schools to be exceptional. Prior to actually moving here, we became involved in the [Board of Education] discussion regarding closing Hawley School. I was incredibly impressed with the town's involvement. To me, that showed that the town was, like my husband and me, very concerned about and active in the education our children are receiving.
I feel that taking such drastic measures as closing a school building and reconfiguring grade levels into a relatively untested model is extremely short sighted. I understand that there is a projected population drop coming in the next few years. But I also see from the reports that there is an anticipated rebound only a few years down the road. It's taken 30 months from the start of this population discussion to get to this point and we're still at least another 12 to 18 months from any action. We'd essentially need to start the population growth discussion immediately after the middle school is closed in order to be prepared for the additional students in 2025 -2026. To me, that's a waste of time, energy and resources. Let's better spend our time creatively enhancing the educational opportunities we're able to provide for these children. Let's spend our money not on more studies, but on more programs for the schools.
It's my understanding that the class of 2024 would be the first seventh grade class that would remain at Reed. This is not the class that should be in any sort of untested, unknown, uncomfortable situation. This class needs to know what's coming. They need to be comfortable. They need security. While Reed is a wonderful environment, this particular class needs the tried and tested middle school experience. They need that safe community in which to go through their transitions into young adulthood.
Having gone on the tour last night of the proposed space for the eighth grade in the high school building, it's clear that the 'school within a school' experience that was described is almost impossible to achieve. The eighth graders will be intermingled with the ninth to twelfth graders. I'm sure that our high school students are welcoming and generally great kids (as has been my experience), but the age gap and levels of maturity are just too large for them to be together so much.
My family would like to strongly suggest that the board decide not to close the middle school. Please keep Newtown's educational system one of the town's great attributes.
10 Cobblestone Lane, Newtown ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ November 2, 2016