Thursday, May 30, 2024

To: Stratford Town Council

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From: Meghann England~ ALPHA Program English teacher~14 years

RE: ALPHA Program for the 2024-2025 School Year

I have been teaching in Stratford for 16 years. When I was lucky enough to get the English teacher position at ALPHA after budget cuts at Bunnell, I began to experience immense gratitude for my new purpose in our district. ALPHA is a singular place where the most vulnerable children of Stratford are invited to thrive. When afforded this opportunity to be seen and heard, most kids will take it–and soon take ownership of their own education. If the program is cut, where will these children go? It is heart-breaking to envisage that on graduation day in 2025 we may not meet these children on the field after they receive their diplomas, a mix of disbelief and pride welling up in their eyes. It is a moment, for them and their parents, and is most often followed by tears, hugs of gratitude, and pure praise for our program and staff. A reality is that our kids desire to do well–they just need the right environment and people to consistently support them. Lost children without purpose and without confidence become adult versions of their worst selves—a cost that Stratford will suffer that is far greater than any imagined savings on the budget block.

Things to Consider:

          ●  Where will students who are not successful in their high schools go? Outplacement (100K + transportation per student)? Drop-out? Jail?

          ●  Our program is comprised of 41 students

                    ○  14 special education students

                    ○  9 students with 504s

                    ○  2 students determined Emotionally Disturbed

                    ○  7 students determined Other Health Impaired

          ●  ALPHA’s graduation rate is 96%. If ALPHA closes, Stratford’s dropout rate will increase. In the 2022-2023 school year, 12 of 13 seniors graduated from ALPHA.

          ●  Students are successfully guided into the workforce: 46% of seniors earned Work Study Credit for being employed while attending school.

          ●  Attendance has increased by 10% from 61% to 71% from the previous school year; non-attendance is a problem district-wide and many students are sent to ALPHA for this reason.  

Our alternative program in Stratford is 30+ years old. Eliminating this resource post-pandemic and in light of the significant mental-health needs in this country shows an unmistakable irreverence for the well-being of Stratford children. As citizens of Stratford we will have to live with this short-sighted decision, as families will be repelled to move to a place that does not value education. I ask the Stratford Board members: Do these decisions align with Stratfords true identity?

Sincerely,

Meghann England
English Department~Alpha 45 North Parade Street Stratford, CT 06615 203.385.4298 Extension 1191 englandm@stratk12.org

Current Students’ Testimonials:

I really improved here. I feel so much better about getting up and going to school. If I have to go back to Bunnell, I dont know what I will do. –ALPHA junior

I didn’t go to school at all last year at Bunnell. Now I go to school every day and I get As and Bs. –ALPHA junior

I couldn’t focus at all. Everyone helps me here. If ALPHA is here next year, I know I can graduate. –ALPHA junior

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