Thursday, May 30, 2024

To: All Constituents


From: David Hayes – Special Education Educator – SPS ALPHA Program Date:
RE: Elimination of the ALPHA Program for the 2024-2025 School Year

I am authoring this letter in reference to the proposed elimination of the Alternative High School Program, ALPHA, in the Stratford Public School (SPS) district for the 2024-2025 school, as a response to closing the gap between necessary funding for operation and the school budget of the SPS in 2024-2025.

I am currently serving in my second year as the Special Education teacher in the ALPHA program, following three years serving as the Special Education teacher in the STEPS program at Bunnell as well as working in a therapeutic Special Education school. I have also worked in education as a school administrator and teacher for the past 16 years. I write this letter to express my deep concern in regards to the proposed step to eliminate the ALPHA program. Based on my experience as an educator and the strength of the program, ALPHA’s ability to support many of the district’s most at-risk students to be successful in achieving their goals and meet graduation requirements is unparalleled in the SPS.

ALPHA is a dynamic team of educators, including our administration, teaching staff, dedicated social worker, climate specialist and CIAs whose sole focus is to support our students both socially/emotionally and educationally. Our student body is composed of students who need the kind of support only the ALPHA program is able to provide to succeed, and who would likely not be successful in their home schools of Stratford High School and Bunnell High School. We support students with a variety of needs including, but not limited to, students with chronic truancy, school phobia, credit deficiency, social relationships that impact their ability to access their education, negative experiences in the school setting, a need for a smaller school environment and many other needs across both the regular education and special education students.

The many stories of seniors who have had success and met graduation requirements through the ALPHA program is a testament to the important work that the ALPHA staff does, and the importance of the existence of this program within the district. In the 2022-2023 school year, twelve of thirteen seniors graduated from ALPHA and 46% of seniors earned Work Study Credit for being employed while completing their senior year. Additionally, the entire ALPHA staff believes in being flexible and supportive of all of our students’ individual needs to ensure the best chance of academic success for all of our students, regardless of past or heightened level of need in comparison to their peers. The entire ALPHA staff works through a creative, collaborative and restorative lens that lends to our students’ success and celebrates these successes. Without the ALPHA program, so many of our success stories would have ended on a much more dismal note.

In conclusion, I strongly feel that the elimination of the ALPHA program would represent a blemish on the district’s record of working to support our at-risk student population by providing this alternative program for more than 30 years in the SPS. Children who attend ALPHA as a tier 3 intervention are able to meet graduation requirements, and enter into their post-secondary lives equipped with a diploma and the skills necessary for success. These students may otherwise have slipped through the cracks. The work that the ALPHA staff does to support some of the district’s most vulnerable students is commendable and imperative to meeting the needs of all students in the SPS.

David Hayes
Special Education Teacher, ALPHA
SEA Building Representative, ALPHA
MA Education, CAGS Educational Leadership


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