Thursday, April 25, 2024

Are Our Schools on a Race to the Bottom?


Monday, March 11th

By Barbara Heimlich

The Stratford Town Council faced a packed house on Monday night.  The list of residents (over 35) signing up to speak during the Public Forum resulted in the Chairman of the Town Council Glad to announce, before the Public Forum started, that at 7 p.m. the Public Forum would be closed and anyone still on the list would be able to speak following the Town Council scheduled meeting. The Public Forum was reconvened at 7:56 so that those who were already on the list were able to speak.  Not all who attended the meeting and signed up were able to present, as they left during the Town Council meeting.

Residents Speaking During the Public Forum:

Mike Fiorello:  Speaking as president of the Stratford Education Association, let me start with the obvious, students need librarians, they need math and reading interventionists and they need an alternative program.  You may say, we’re the Town Council we simply allocate a dollar amount, the BOE sets a budget as it sees fit.  Well let’s be clear the average citizen does not want to get into the weeds about ESSER funding or whose fault it is, or which board, or which superintendent made which decision we are where we are right now.  Look around, Stratford wants fully staffed schools not simply the unions, parents, students, and homeowners, we all recognize that a school district with fewer assistant principals, fewer math and reading coaches and no Librarians is a district on a downward spiral this proposed budget represents a race to the bottom.  It’s stingy and shortsighted, imagine trying to attract teachers to this District.  Imagine trying to sell a house to a young family, look them in the eye and tell them this is a budget and a district to be proud of can you do it?  Instead I urge you to invest in our schools be Visionary and set Stratford on an upward trajectory.

Kim Perillo:  I come before you this evening to express my concern for the Stratford public school system I have been a Stratford resident for 55 years and a product of the Stratford public schools.  I have been a teacher for 35 years, 16 here in Stratford.  It is with mixed emotions that I have decided that this will be my last year teaching.  I am retiring, I say mixed emotions because I love what I do, I’m excited to be with my class every day, I’m not ready to retire.  I come in every day ready to face any and all challenges and make learning fun and exciting however, I no longer feel that I can continue in a district or town that has lost its focus – the focus being that we should always be doing what’s best for children.  In the last five years or so the district and town has stopped supporting the people who work daily tirelessly – the teachers, tutors, coaches, support staff, specialists, secretaries, custodians. The Administration calls for a change a help a different way, a new Focus.  Enforcement of rules and consequences go unanswered, or we’re told you have enough to do what you need to make it work,  yet no one comes to visit to see if what we have is enough.  The View looks just fine from the outside.  We keep hearing the money is being wasted, poured into a broken system that is not working.  I would like to say I do agree with part of that statement, there are broken parts of the system and there is wasted money, but in my 16 years here in Stratford no one has asked us what or how we think we can do differently.  We are told by experts or higher ups how to do things, or given another so-called curriculum, AKA a workbook.  One minute we have more topics to teach every day, but not more time ask someone in a school, not someone in an office.  We don’t need another t-shirt on opening day to feel like a team, we don’t need a new program to know how to talk and help our kids, we don’t need larger class sizes and less staffing.  We need to be included in brainstorming decisions ask what we think,  ask what we need, have more staff to meet all needs, treated like the professionals we are.  Teachers never come into this profession for the income, we are in it for the outcome!  Please take a moment to look out here at the people who took the time to attend this meeting,  see them, they are what’s best for kids, and yet they feel abandoned, beat down,  defeated, left to make due, unsure, expendable, torn by the people who were chosen to lead, guide, and support them.  Stratford is losing good teachers.  Please pass the budget that was presented by the Acting Superintendent, not the budget that was presented by a very partisan divided Board of Ed. 

Mike Henrick:  Chairman of the Board of Education:  Here we are again, surrounded by cries of “fully fund the budget”.  Two years ago we were told if we did not honor that request we would close schools and lay off hundreds of teachers.  This year that request started at 11.48%, then 6.69%, then approved by the board at 3.27%, that in addition to the $3 million from Alliance, puts us at 5.67% with all this in mind the Board of Ed has sought to craft a budget that supported our students’ academic needs and the professional development of our staff while still being considerate of our Town’s ability to pay.   In addition to all this we have been put in the uncomfortable position of dealing with the impending storm created by the ESSER cliff.  We have been forced to pull crucial positions out of that Grant.  To mitigate that we have sought alternative funding through Alliance and other grants to meet these needs.  Moving forward we will continue to look for additional innovative solutions to improve our classroom performance that also reduces our financial needs.  We look forward to working collaboratively with the mayor and council as we seek out the best solutions to meet our ever-changing needs of our educational system.  As with all endeavors we must continually evaluate our practices and how they are performing.  Adding new layers as we’ve done in the past is not working.  As Leaders we must peel back those layers to uncover the true essence of why we are here.  We have a dedicated staff who only ask for the tools they need and a student body that yearns to learn, but in moving forward we must be deliberate about our approach as those in education know,  and as Miss Perillo just spoke, newer is not always better, and for those of us on the other side neither is more expensive.  We respectfully ask that you support the board in our endeavors and grant us the increase of 3.27%.

Irene Cotino:  I am here to speak in support of the 6.69% budget increase.   I am a proud mother of three adult sons who are now men who are first generation Americans.   Growing up the two oldest boys primarily spoke Portuguese at home.  When they were sent off to school they had a difficult time communicating.  In learning the primary language in English this caused my middle son many learning difficulties and a lot of frustrations.  At this time there were no ESL teachers or support for sigh language learners.  The progress my son did make was due in part to his school librarian, who provided him with books that would help him learn and speak English.  Additional support were provided by reading teachers whom he worked with and learned the rules of English language, and always could count on them for extra help.  In recent years we have an influx of immigrants who primary language is not English come to our country as well as this community.   it is my fear that without reading teachers to provide interventions and added support to these students they’re just being set up for failure.   Furthermore, without CER certified librarians to help and guide these students to appropriate resources the likelihood for success is low.  As a community we have an obligation to provide the best education to all these young people.  Eliminating certified librarians and reading teachers will only hinder the progress of our growing community of ESL students.

Katherine Kobal: It has come to my and some of my peers attentions that the board of education is planning on removing the role of library media specialist from Stratford public schools, and plans to fill those roles with tutors who will not be required to go through even half of the training the current Librarians have.  How do you expect someone to support students and teachers when they never learned how to?  How are people that never were prepared by college expected to prepare me for college?  I’m not a Stratford born resident, I’ve only been here for half of my high school life.  When I came here our old library was as big as a classroom, here the kids would hide out in the spaces because they were unmanaged, and the gap between those in Higher Achievement classes and those in lower classes was tremendous.  When I came here I never imagined a library as big as ours and it’s amazing.  I work in the library, it’s a privilege.  I earn community service hours and I love it.  But this isn’t just about how I feel today.  Recently I talked with one of my brothers, a current Wooster seventh grader, and I asked him if he had ever been in his Library.  He told me, yeah I went there once because my Spanish class couldn’t be in our classroom.  Do you not think that it’s sad that a middle school student is for the first time in his school library was due to displacement and not for learning?  You are pushing these people out of these rooms and the libraries will be just become rooms, and they’ll have thousands of dollars of inventory that’ll never be accounted for, and will continue to be rooms.  As I stand here today I have already read this exact speech to the BOE and I have not been heard.  I hope today that you can hear me, because I’m always prepared to become a thorn in your side.  I don’t like to, but I will, I will frequent your emails.  I will be seen in your mailboxes until I can safely say that my siblings education isn’t at risk.  I have many, and I don’t need them to become one minute pillage by the school system thank you.

Megan Booth: Our youth go to school for many reasons: to learn, to see consistent caring faces, to have access to regular food, and to be inspired and engaged and educated.  They do not come to fail!  And they are NOT failing. After delving into EdSight in an attempt you see “the big picture” and reading the town’s performance report card, our math and reading averages are very close (within six percentage points) of state averages. And our decreases in this previous year mirror decreases in the state average.  Our post secondary readiness has increased and exceeded the state standards every year since 2018.  The library media specialists and ALPHA play an enormous role in this success: 60 years of research show that students who have access to libraries and the skills they acquire there result in higher test scores.  Libraries prepare young students for literacy, information seeking, and social media safety.  Libraries prepare high school students for success in higher learning by teaching technology, information, and media literacy. In a world of higher education, grades are composed of term papers and exams. The ability to research and cite work is not optional for college students. They learn those skills with a library media specialist! Students around the country are learning these skills, they are competing with our students for college placement. Why on earth are we talking about removing this vital part of our educational system, putting our students at a disadvantage compared to their peers in other towns? Then why wouldn’t we give them the tools they need to succeed?  ALPHA had a 96% graduation rate last year. It may only serve a small population, but how do our numbers look with another dozen students who don’t graduate? Why do we want to fail ALPHA students too?  Project Uplift is not a substitute program. It has a very different goal and execution method than ALPHA does.  At some point we have to decide to provide our schools with the resources they need. Doing so makes our schools better, it increases our property values, it draws families to our town and our local economy. If we keep cutting programs all we do is entrench ourselves into the alliance. We cut existing NECESSARY and basic programs in order to secure state funding for band aid programs… that’s not how we improve!  Let’s think about our students. They are not failing. But we are failing them. Please consider your responsibilities to your youngest constituents. Please give our schools the 6.69% increase our acting superintendent believes they need.

Sophia Ramlal:  I’m currently a fifth grader in Miss Gusterson’s class at Eli Whitney Elementary School.  You may already know that the board of education has suggested eliminating library teachers, reading specialists, as well as math coaches.  However it is a district goal to increase test scores, eliminating these key educators will only have negative impacts on the school communities.  Librarians do not just read books to their classes, they help prepare their students for the future they’re the ones who teaches how to use technology, research information properly, as well as spark our interest and curiosity in reading.  So why now when to help students thrive in Reading?  Another idea to save money without cuts is to go through the expenses you make and prioritize them as a district.  We can make the schools more energy efficient this will be a huge game changer and be more cost effective.  This slight change will have a huge impact on the town’s wallet.  My home room only uses half the lights at a time.  This easy solution saves money and helps the environment.  The money that is saved can go to saving our librarians, reading specialists, as well as math coaches. One of my other ideas is to cut or rework extracurricular activities that do not have a direct effect on student learning and growth.  Pay to play or stipends for band teachers to teach lessons will be a way to reconsider saving money.  However not having librarians, reading and math specialists will have a negative effect on our growth.  As students removing these positions will negatively impact me and my peers academic progress as well as social emotional wellbeing.  I really hope you take my ideas into consideration and think about what’s best for the future of the students in the Stratford school Community. I hope you dig deep into your heart and really do what’s right for the students.  Show us you care and don’t eliminate the teachers that do thank you.

Sarah Rua: Honorable members of the Town Council, the definition of a literacy and a math interventionist is to find out as instructional Leaders with specialized knowledge in the science of reading and math evidence-based practice.  English language arts and Mathematics state standards, as well as the knowledge of how to work with Educators as adult Learners.  It is easy to look at those two definitions and be able to make sense of where these Educators can be made up for somewhere else.  I am here to tell you that simply is not possible.  Last summer my husband and I made the incredible difficult decision to unenroll our daughter from a private school where we were made to feel part of an amazing nurturing and supportive community of students and parents.  But that was not enough.  This privately paid for education did not allow for any tiered intervention and certainly did not include reading and math coaches.  My daughter was  expected to simply go to school every day and just learn.  Making this decision was tough enough, exploring where to place her proved to be even tougher.  With a lot of no this isn’t the place for us on our side, until we came to Wilcoxon Elementary School.   The reading coaches, Miss Jen Liebowitz, Miss Kim Stewart, and math coach Miss Jackie Giordano, were my immediate yeses.  Being a BOE employee I have seen exactly what it is that they can do firsthand, and it is nothing short of extraordinary and magical, and that exactly what they have done for my daughter.  My daughter who entered this year testing at barely above a kindergarten level in math is now on track with a typical second grade math curriculum.  I am also more than proud to stand here and say that my daughter also started this year reading at only 12 words permitted with an oral oral fluency of 67%, she is now reading 31 words per minute with an oral fluency of 91%, and it is all because of the confidence strategies and motivation that Miss Liebowitz, Miss Stewart,  and Miss Giordano have given her.  I have listened over the past week to the elected officials of the Board of Ed call her District ineffective,  inefficient, and broken.  One in a social media post blame the accountability of our students for our district shortcoming.  I can certainly tell you our children are anything but ineffective, inefficient, or broken, and it is because they have these people backing them, supporting them the entire way/ I am asking you to fully fund a board of ed budget that supports these vital positions because without them the positive results and growth in our students just simply are not possible.  Please do not make your children a bottom line that achieves the bare minimum. Please do not turn our yeses into our NOS.     

Megan Kimbell:  I know many of you personally and have for many years.  I know you are people who care about the well-being of the children in our town, so I’m here to ask you to consider increasing the funding of our schools to the Acting Superintendent expert recommendation of 6.69%.  I am well aware of the difficult position we are in with the budget this year but it is unconscionable to move forward with the cuts presented by the Boe leadership.  I am disheartened by the proposed cuts to so many of the programs and positions that serve to provide an equitable education to the diverse needs of our student population.  Alpha, school librarians, interns from local universities, substitute funding, administrative positions, Etc.  Like many  here tonight I’m shocked at how our schools will be gutted but I want to zero in on the recommendation to cut reading coaches from our schools.  This is an unbelievable ask, these professionals serve to train teachers in curriculum and keep them in the loop on current theories in the field.  In the proposed cuts we are looking at a loss of 15.2 reading Specialists right as the state and country are grappling with a shift in the way we teach the science of reading.  These reading coaches will be the ones to help the teachers make sense of the new curriculum, they will support classroom teachers who are already overwhelmed by the changing needs of students.  Having multiple coaches will allow them to also have time to pull groups of students for tiered intervention and provide extra help in order for many to access grade level curriculum.  Without this support many of those students will move to testing and require SPED and IEP supports.  This will cost the district more money contrary to what some of our BOE leaders have been saying.  The way these programs work are not failing but with the proposed reductions the few coaches that are kept on will only be able to serve as interventionists fully losing the coaching support they provide to the classroom teachers and causing more students to fall behind.  This is not looking out for all children.  By keeping these positions intact they will be able to roll out new curriculum, deliver strategies to teachers, and continue to reach Learners who need tiered support.  We cannot lose these coaches now that the budget has fallen on you all. I implore you to look at the reductions with empathy and consideration for the children in our district and the people who work on their behalf please find a way to reduce something else.  I do not know of any Municipal expense more important, more grounded in equity, than the right to a proper public education only filling the 3.27 ask would undermine this right and all the citizens of Stratford will be negatively impacted thanks for your time

Susan Halliwell: This evening I’m speaking on behalf of the seniors in the ALPHA program.  They are full-time students, they are on the honor roll and they will be going to college.  They wanted it to be known that they would not be where they are if not for the ALPHA program.  In their words, they have only been there for three years, but have gained so much credit while being there.  Without Alpha I would not be getting ready for graduation for college and for starting a new chapter in my life.  To be given this opportunity that I’ve always prayed for means so much to me, and I know you do not understand, but I’m hoping that you will listen.  I myself have struggled with coming to school due to personal issues and my age, but as soon as I signed my forms to go to ALPHA my attendance has been improving and I’ve been comfortable at being at school.  So many other kids struggle with this and for earning credits.  Those who are choosing to remove this program do not understand what this means to us the students.  You’ll be failing the students without even knowing it.  I also want to say that it isn’t fair to cut other things like librarians and teachers that help those of us who need it with reading and math.  You’re failing these students without even knowing and I am inviting you the council and the Board of Education to come to ALPHA.  Hear my story and those of the other students and stay a day and learn how things operate here at ALPHA I thank you for your time.

Devin Farington Posner: I’m a junior at Stratford high school and I’m 16.  I’m here to talk about the budget cutting of librarians and reading specialists.  When we cut these positions we are effectively cutting off our students access to knowledge, literacy, and enrichment.  This will set our students behind our peers in neighboring towns.  We cannot continue to cut important Public Services like this as it will have a negative effect on our students and overall Community.  We need to find ways to ensure that these positions stay funded and accessible to all.  We are also neglecting our children’s education when we cut librarians The librarians are critical to helping our children learn how to read, learn how to use basic technology, and explore their curiosity.  I know this because I am Library Aid with Miss Sara Hsiang almost every single school day.  The next two experiences of mine were when I was a student at K Street Elementary School at this time My Librarian Miss Sulcus helped me learn how to navigate the library and how to find Reliable research sources then, there was my school specialist Miss Banu,  also known as Miss B, she helped spark my passion for reading and urged me to keep reading all throughout my years there, and even past then,  she was the person I went to talk to about my latest readings.  Each and every school day she was inspirational to me and impacted me then this continued to sense as well as the thousands of other students whose paths she’s crossed.  They are still librarians and being specialists there they have even sparked my sister’s interest in books as well.  By cutting these services we are actively preventing the children of our community, my peers, from developing into well-rounded adults.  Without access to reading specialists and librarians children are more likely to fall behind academically and have a hard time navigating the world around them.  We must value and support these Services if we truly care about the Stratford students.  The notion that we should cut the funding and eliminate jobs for our well educated and passionate specialists is not in the best interest of our Public Schools.  We must have respect for the importance that librarians and specialists play in our community and the hard work done by them.  Let’s not cut Corners when it comes to the education of our students.  Invest in the children by investing in our specialists.  It is your responsibility to prioritize education and show that you care about me and all of the other students, their future and their successful learning by giving them the resources they need.  It would be nice to also hear how the Board of Ed thinks by cutting these positions it would be beneficial to current and future students.  

Zoe Looney:  I am from Honduras and I go to USA I moved to Stratford, and I went to Second Hill Lane.  When I came I spoke no English and now I do thanks to my readings teachers because they help me in everything that I need.  We need your library ready teachers and Coaches’.  Please thank you.

Katie Cable:  I am here to speak the words of another student at Stratford High School who could not be here today.  Dear adults who are in charge, hello my name is Sky Florian I am an 11th grader attending Stratford High who is deeply concerned by the Stratford Board of Education’s recent decision to cut our librarian budgets.   The library has been indispensable in my high school career.  I remember during my freshman year we were expected to write a three-page minimum research paper, MLA format including citations.  The ability to write such a paper seemed so Out Of Reach to my 14-year-old self, a daunting task that I’d end up shedding many tears over.  The media specialist of my school taught me not only how to use online databases correctly, use citations format, utilize tech, the technological tools we have available, but she also indirectly gave me the confidence to try a new thing – she gave me the comfort of knowing I’d have a place to go and a person who knows what they’re doing for help outside of class.   The experience was very formative for me fresh out of the Covid mentality.  I struggled to believe in myself and to trust that I could ask for help and receive it.  Teachers are great but they’re busy and have many students across multiple classes the level of attentiveness that can be provided Ed by Librarians isn’t something we should take for granted I I worry to think about the struggles our future high school students will have to go through unnecessarily should the Board of Education choose to cut off such a crucial aspect of schooling today I am an a aage student in multiple AP classes that aspires to pursue higher education in some sort of stem field I fear I would not be what I am without the school’s librarian I would not I would not have the sense of accomplishment that followed after submitting that essay through the help of my school’s librarian Additionally the technology I taught was taught to use in my freshman year remains useful to this day.  Best Regards Sky Floran.

Colleen Hargrove:  I stand before you today with a heavy heart and a deep sense of disappointment.  A community that should be known for its resilience and dedication to  education is now mired by the despicable behavior of the current Board of Ed.  It pains me to say that their actions have brought shame upon this town and have left me questioning the Integrity of the institutions we hold dear.  As a resident of Stratford and a parent with a child attending one of our schools, I have always believed in the importance of quality education and the role our Board of Education plays in ensuring every child has access to it.  However recent events have shattered that belief.  The behavior displayed by the current Board of Ed members is nothing short of appalling.   Instead of focusing on the well-being and academic success of our students they have chosen to engage inpartisan politics and personal agendas disregarding the needs of the community they were elected to serve.  Their actions have not only eroded trust in the Board of Education but have also tarnished the reputation of this town.  How can you expect our children to learn the values of respect, integrity, and cooperation when those in positions of authority set such a poor example.  I refuse to stand idly by and watch as our educational system suffers at the hands of petty politics and self-interest.  It is time for us as a community to demand accountability from our elected officials to insist on a Board of Education that prioritizes the best interests of our children above all else.  I urge the town we cannot allow the future of our children to be jeopardized by the actions of a few individuals who have lost sight of their duty to serve the public good.  Let us come together regardless of political affiliation to demand better of our community and for the Next Generation our children deserve nothing less.

Dorothy Learner: As you can see I am old, I do not have a direct vested interest in the school system here what I mean by that is I’m not a parent of a child or a grandparent of a child in the system nor am I a teacher but what I offer is a little bit of a panoramic overview of my feeling as a proud citizen of Stratford which I know you all are every single one of you my panoramic view is what a wonderful wonderful town we have so much to be proud of I am thrilled to be involved in the Baldwin Center that’s my age group the services are par Excellence they absolutely are the best senior services I have ever been involved with the beauty of Stratford strategically located on the honic river we should be called The Jewel of the honic river we’re a beautiful town with beautiful beaches beautiful departments let us put the most important natural resource first place which would be the children of Stratford the children of Stratford no service no service be it the phenomenal EMS the fire department the police department any Department should go above the welfare and the growth and the educational opportunities of our most precious resource having said that I also feel as a citizen of Stratford that we should gain a reputation for being one of the best places to bring up children one of the finest most shining places in Connecticut rather than be number 33 on the whatever that list is it starts with an A what is that list it starts with an A thank you Alliance yes anyway I want to say thank you for letting me speak I wish you all a good evening thank you for letting me speak thank you

Cara Flockhart: I speak in support of the 6.69% budget proposal I have three kids who have gone through the Stratford school system.  My about two years ago she graduated from Stratford High, and she would come home quite often, and she would speak positively of Mrs.Hsiang.  Mrs Hsiang, who I know is here tonight and should have been on that list of women who were recognized in this town.  My oldest would come home and she would talk about the librarian at Stratford High and she would say the most positive things that happened in the library throughout her day.  My oldest is a sophomore at the University of Vermont and she is studying to be a teacher at the high school level in biology.  She directlyattributes many of the critical thinking skills to her Library and Mrs. Hsiang. I now have I now have my youngest in Stratford high, she’s a freshman and she too now comes home and she talks highly of Mrs. Hsiang in the library.  As a parent I don’t want to see Mrs. Hsiang disappear at all.  I believe Megan Booth wrote it so well in the Stratford Crier.  She wrote in her article titled Librarians Matter she said “what could be more safer or more inclusive than a space where every single person can learn whatever they wish”.  We have much diversity here in Stratford to embrace and to celebrate.  We have a high number of second language learners in our system, we need our librarians, we need our math and our reading specialists, we need to give success to everyone, to meet the high range in the diversity of learners that we have.  We cannot grow the town of Stratford and not fully fund the educational budget.

Aubrey Booska:  I’m standing before you tonight to talk as a taxpayer, parent, educator, and product of the Stratford public schools. My husband and I both attended School in town and we have chosen to raise our four children in this community. In recent years, many stakeholders in the community came together to develop the portrait of a graduate called the POG. The idea behind the POG is a community-based effort to ensure all Stratford POG public school graduates will be equipped with special crucial life skills that allow them to be successful members of our community. The POG aims to ensure all students will be collaborators, communicators, lifelong learners, problem solvers, and compassionate and engaged community members. In order for the POG attributes to be realized, all stakeholders must actually be in support of this Mission. Supporting the elimination of Staff members who work directly to help students accomplish their goals contradicts the POG model. The needs of schools shift quickly, and math and reading coaches are needed to support teachers in rapidly changing educational landscapes. Coaches are one of the few roles dedicated to professional growth, and supporting both student and teacher growth. Both math and reading coaches support all students in the school to ensure that all young minds have the opportunity to succeed under the POG model, and out in the real world. Our elementary libraries are at the core of all the POG attributes. Librarians teach students to analyze and think critically when gathering sources of information. They teach them how to look for bias in sources, and how to know which sources actually provide viable information. Our libraries are hubs for collaboration and communication. Students are taught technology and how to navigate all the Google programs that the Stratford public schools expect them to know in order to be successful. Elementary libraries have also focused on social-emotional learning and have incorporated many activities that encourage students to be confident in who they are, and in their role in the school community. When I started my teaching 23 years ago the popular slogan was well known around Stratford: Children first, whatever it takes. Eliminating the Librarians along with the instructional coaches will be a step backwards in putting the needs of our children first. I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak, and I hope that you will continue to support the Librarians, coaches, and the attributes of the POG.

Michael Mezzo:  I have very little patience for exercises in futility. That’s why when I attended the Board of Ed’s finance committee meeting last month, where the four deciding members announced the breathtaking scope of their planned cuts, I knew that the eloquent entreaties of the three dissenting board members and the students and the parents and educators who spoke in public comment were falling on deaf ears. The decision, as one board member rightly indicated, had been made long before that night in back-channel conversations that excluded the only board members with actual teaching experience and personal stakes in the betterment of our Public Schools. So I am not here to change the minds of those four board members, or any of the people inside Town Hall who they’re conspiring with to gut the district, motivated by petty biases justified by bad analogies about construction. That’s probably pointless. I’m here as a town native and a taxpayer, sick of the relentless decline of the schools that educated me. I’m here as a teacher fortunate enough to work in a district that understands its public schools are the foundation of a strong community. Who wants the same for his town. I’m here as the uncle of two little girls who still believe they can do anything, who don’t know that four narrowly elected leaders are set on a future for their schools in which their cherished coach won’t be there to help them overcome reading challenges next year; a future in which their librarian won’t be there to help them choose a new book, or eventually process the maelstrom of misinformation that will be hounding them at every access point as they grow up. I’m here as someone who knows that a man with a gavel, but no compassion or vision, is a danger to everyone. Someone who knows that ‘trust the process’ and ‘you don’t understand’ are the arguments of someone who forgot what they were arguing for in the first place. Someone who doesn’t need a math coach to know that subtracting 4 million does not magically add up to more for our students. Someone who is amazed to hear the same people who rail against the past use of relief grants to fund vital personnel try to silence our outrage by assuring us they will fund the same positions and programs with different temporary grants. I’m here because even though I have no patience for exercises in futility, I refuse to sit back and be treated like like a fool. I hope that whatever concessions these bad actors have already planned as part of their process of manipulation include enough money to get our students through the next school year without even more devastating losses in learning. But no matter what final sum is approved, I have faith that everyone here, when it comes time to vote new town leaders, will remember how catastrophic this board majority and their self-serving agenda has been.

Lucy Babbitt:  I have been a public elementary school teacher for 23 years. My two children went through the Stratford school system, and now I have a a grandson who will, too, in about four years. First, I do want to add my voice to those opposed to the appalling motion to cut Librarians, Elementary School Librarians, especially. I know I’m biased, but they are arguably the fundamental building blocks of all literacy. Diminishing their role will absolutely lower the educational level of Stratford kids. I also want to add my, and, again this is personal experience, but lowering the budget for substitute teachers will mean that subs, which are crazy hard to find in the best of times, will not come to Stratford. Personal experience as an elementary teacher, especially. My husband teaches High School. Subs there—it’s not such a big deal. They put on a movie, they go to study hall. In elementary schools they have to have boots on the ground. When there are no substitute teachers, what happens is they split the classes. The lesson that you had worked so hard to prepare, you can no longer do. Suddenly your careful plans are in disarray—there are more children, there are different issues, the class can be ridiculously crowded, it is a wasted day for the children. Now if this happens now and then, it’s not such a big deal. But when this happens again and again and again, and this will happen in Stratford if you do not have a budget to pay substitute teachers, they will go to other districts. The educational level will suffer, the scores that often label how good a town is, those will suffer. As someone mentioned before, families with young children will not look to Stratford to come. If you care—if Stratford cares for its students, as I know you do, they cannot slash the budget for librarians or for substitute teachers. Thank you.

Grace Miron Dominguez:  I’m a sophomore at Stratford High School. Once again I’m here to advocate for what is fair and equitable for the students of Stratford. I respectfully request that the Town Council fund the Board of Education with the proper amount of funding that the Acting Superintendent requested of 6.69%. I have a question for the council: how important is a world class education? The answer: immeasurable. Given the ever-changing face of education, we need to be competitive. We need to give students every resource they need to successfully navigate through school and decide their path, so that they’re equipped to tackle an advanced higher education system, trade, or service opportunities. I did some research over the last few weeks, looking at what the top high schools in Connecticut offer their students. First and foremost, they all have Librarians and tutors. They all have open maker student spaces in—guess where—their libraries, where the library staff teaches students how to use the technology. They have technology hubs in—guess where—their libraries. I only get three minutes, so let me state this simply: Librarians, tutors, teaching staff, school employees and innovative programs are imperative to the success of a school system. To cut this, to not invest in me, in my classmates, in our future, is shortsighted. But let’s talk numbers for a minute. Do you know what the top school districts in Connecticut have in common? They invest in their education system. Westport School District: 63% of the budget was allocated to education. Ridgefield School District: 61% of the budget was allocated to education. We’re talking about the best of the best, we’re talking about the Tom Cruz Top Gun of school districts. You could be on that list, and you could make that happen. The Acting Superintendent suggests 6.69% is the bare minimum increase you should allocate, and that still means there will be cuts. You want to be bold and make a statement? Approve a 7% increase. Tell this town, this state, future home buyers, future doctors, future servicemen and women that their education matters in Stratford. Fun fact: you might want to grab a pen for this one. Since 2008, the Stratford board of education budget has increased by 43.11 percent. Let me repeat that: 43.11 one% increase since 2008. That’s a huge percentage, but guess what. The municipal side of the budget has increased by 47.55% since 2008. That’s 4.44% higher than the increase in education. This proves that the expenses are increasing everywhere. If the town advances, then let’s advance education, and fund it the way it should be funded. Stratford should be working to advocate and actively ensure equitable opportunities for all students in this diverse community. Stratford needs to take actions to strengthen their schools, it will then strengthen the community and local economy. And also, remember that in 788 days I’ll be down in the registrar’s office, registering to vote. Thank you.

Patricia Levine:  I’m a retired clinical social worker. I worked in the health care field for about 50 years, so everything that I’m listening to sounds so much like hospitals. It’s frightening. My husband and I moved here three years ago. There’s only one data point that I really knew about the school system when we moved in, when we were looking at houses, and it was the published standing of the school system in Stratford. And there were some other data that I’ve learned that I really want everybody to hear. I’m sure people have seen this different times. The teachers are probably very tired of hearing this, but we all need to hear this together. So on the websites for real estate, the best score for a school in Stratford is five. There’s a school that’s four of 10, so we’re either five of 10 or we’re four of 10. There’s an elementary school that’s a four. We are members of the Connecticut Alliance district, and why are we that? Because we’re one of the lowest performing schools in Connecticut. That’s not anything to be proud of. And we are asking for a 6.69 budget just to be the status quo, just to stay here. The reading and math in our elementary schools—we have 22% of our children that are proficient in math, 33% in elementary are reading, in high school 19% of our kids are proficient in math, 46% of them in reading, and that probably comes with a lot of work from a lot of people to get to 46. I add to this that 13.5% of our children in Stratford are below poverty level. That’s one in eight children children. We all need to know this, and as we also know, as all of us professionals and parents, the only way that our kids can succeed and become successful adults is through education. Whether you’re rich or poor, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to go into what we’re cutting because the parents and the teachers can tell you that even more than I can about what that impact is. But I will tell you that no job is going to go away. However you cut people, these people will have to do the job. The work will not go away. No matter who you cut, somebody has to do the job. Am I done? Okay, I just want to report the board of ed for a minute. I just think they’re incredibly hypocritical.

John Tarka:  I’m John Tarka, this is my son Trey. I know I only have three minutes. I’m not going to be using up all three minutes. I’m not here to talk about how the budget cuts guarantee we can’t meet the needs of our children. We know that. Many students will suffer due to coaches, tutors, and interventionists being cut. I’m not going to talk about how the budget cuts mean our library media specialists can’t help our students navigate their world, understand digital literacy, make sure they’re not being exploited. We know those library Media Specialists are so important to making sure our students aren’t vulnerable in an ever-changing world. I’m not going to talk about how we’re viewed as a joke by other towns. With this situation, we’re making our schools less safe, our professionals less supported, and the same people who complain about the school’s quality going down are the same ones that are participating in the downfall right now. That’s the Republican way. That doesn’t have to be your way. What I do want to talk about is this: almost to the day four years ago, our whole world shut down. Then we realized just how important our Educators were. You remember that? Now—four years later—we’re showing how quickly we forget that. What I do want to talk to you about is how the Town Council can do what the Board of Education failed to do: listen to the experts, listen to the Educators, the Personnel, who we trust to work with our students, who families come to this town because we represent hope and opportunity—listen to the Experts. Where the board has failed us, you could save us. It’s not too late. Take the time to sit together and find a way. That’s what Educators do—they find a way. Principles, teachers, tutors, coaches, interventionists—they all find a way every day. Remember that when you go to bed tonight. Did I find a way? I’m a stubborn Optimist. I believe you can find a way. We believe in you. It’s not too late. Look at each other, meet and discuss ways to address this. Don’t think about politics or party lines. Think about the little kids in our town who ride bikes on your street. They are the ones who are depending on you. They are the ones that need you to do what’s right. You’re on the care about the families. You still have a chance to prove it. Thank you.

Junelli (?)Garcia:  I’m a sixth grader in Second Hill Lane. Today I’m giving my opinion on why teachers and personnel cuts should not happen. First these teachers work really hard and deal with students with autism, ADHD, and so much more. These teachers are really important to students and they work really hard for our education. They deal with kids who don’t listen to them, and students who don’t show their respect for the teachers. They help a lot of students when they need it, and only having a few teachers is not really good for us students. There will be less help and more work for other teachers, which could lead to headaches. The teachers stay up late grading and planning the next day of school for us. Thank you for your time, and I hope you enjoyed it.

Kim Rice: Our major concern is the safety and well wellbeing of students and staff and I want to ensure that the person we put in charge of them always behaves in all situations with the utmost care.  That is a quote by Mike Hendrick.  On Monday February 2026 my first amendment rights were violated by the chair of the Board of Ed.  Additionally the Stratford police were weaponized and used against me by Mr. Hendrick, who unlawfully infringed upon my First Amendment rights by forcing me to put down my sign because he could not bear the truth of what it said.  His actions were both unethical and unlawful.   Madame Mayor I must inquire when I say are our children safe?  Will the next black  black person or anyone who speaks the truth and has the police called on them be safe?  Furthermore he acted arbitrarily changing the speaking time times from 3 minutes to two minutes, how can rules be altered solely for personal benefits without  considering the rules or the welfare of Stratford’s taxpaying residents.  Is it this safe?   Madame mayor it is concerning that your budget, along with the individuals you endorse for the Board of Ed are jeopardizing our children’s future and don’t seem to care,  as we can see they have all left the room.  These individuals have yet to demonstrate that  our children are their top priority.  It was deeply troubling and unprofessional that Mr. Hendrick publicly shared details from Dr. Osunde’s personnel, file another clear violation of the law.  How can we trust our children’s safety with Mr. Hendrick as the  chair of board of ed?  Madame Mayor Mr. Hendrick altered the rules to grant himself a personal point of privilege to defend his character.  Having previously served on the  Town Council I have never witnessed such behavior before.  Once again I ask, are safe?  Are our children safe?  (Chairman warns Ms. Rice’s time is up)  I’m so sorry, because of my speech I ask that you give me just one more minute.  I apologize to speakers here that still need to go for I understand stand.  Breaking the law which Mr. Hendricks did many many times that night is a catalyst for administrative leave.  How does he, or anyone who engaged in illegal activity still occupy their seat?  Where is the investigation for their extremely inappropriate illegal behavior?  One can only deduce the reason for this inconsistent treatment is racism.  A black man is treated unjustly while you allow a white man to remain in his seat after breaking the law.  History tells us of how racists use government to run false investigations against black people.

Chairman Glad:  we all know the story of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Miss Rice  you’ve had another minute please you’ve had another minute

Ms.Rice:  Okay I’m so sorry I just wanted to finish.  This is hard, I really only have two sentences.  Our rules allow you to submit in writing when you go over the time limit okay, we do have that option.  Please we all know the history of Fred Hammond, Martin Luther King and Malcom X , countless other black men and women who lost their lives because of the lynching.  Mayor are we safe and are our children safe?

Chairman Glad:  Miss Rice this is incredibly disrespectful,  Mr.Hendrick sits on the  Board of Ed and behaves in all situations with the utmost character.

Marsha Harrington:  I’ve lived in Stratford and I’ve paid taxes in Stratford for 34 years.   Four of our four children have gone through the Stratford public school system, I am currently an employee of the Board of Education.  Since my kids started in Stratford Public School 30 years ago I have witnessed programs getting cut, resources getting whittled down, and continued expectations for teachers to do more with less.  With the newly proposed round of cuts I now feel compelled to speak at a Town Council meeting for the first time.  It is time to stop expecting the schools to scrape by.  They should actually be given the resources they need in order to put students in the best position to succeed.  Thank you for your time and I ask you to please do what is best for our students who are also the future of our community.

Paula Sweeley:  I’m gonna say very little, it’s all been said, and much of it by people who are much more eloquent than I am.  I would just like Stratford in this decision about the school budget to show that we’re a town of character that values our young people above everything else and that’s about all I have to say, thank you.

Andrea Corcoran:  Tonight I’m going to speak to you about how we have been funding our schools and Stratford in the past years.  What funding sources have been used?   What strategies have been employed?  And what false narratives have been encouraged having recently completed my single four-year term on the Stratford Board of Education, two of them as board chair.  I have been privy to the ins and outs of these budget sessions.  I know the work that you as a council have ahead of you.  I know it won’t be easy and there are difficult decisions to make, but I ask you to please avoid the mistakes of past years.  Please do not try to co-opt grant sources Alliance as was noted tonight as town funding — these are different buckets of money, and one is not intended to supplant the other.  The Board of Ed has been forced to use grant money before when short changed by the town and faced with a choice between mass staff reductions and non- ideal budget choices, and we are seeing the consequences of this now.  With the ESSER cliff please fund the Board of Ed without the use of one-time monetary gifts.  These two create a fiscal cliff which we are also seeing this year after receiving $1 million as a town grant last spring.  If a one-time monetary gift is considered, please allow the Board of Ed to include it as part of their operating budget so that the monetary needs of the school’s next year can be accurately reflected and not artificially low.  Please be mindful of the divisive rhetoric that many elected officials included here have spread and endorsed.  The Board of Ed is not solely responsible for last year’s Mill rating increase, as some have grown fond of proclaiming.  In fact, while the Board of Ed received only a 1.39% increase last year the town got a 2.98% increase, more than double what the school saw.  Also any surpluses recognized by the Board of Education,  surpluses seen generally as a  result of staffing shortages, have gone back to the town.   They haven’t ever been used to fund the educational reserve fund as requested each year, and importantly our schools are not failing.  Our students under the guidance of the amazing Stratford Public School staff, are learning every day and recognizing academic gains.  Imagine what they could do if they were properly resourced.  I was told once early in my term that when the Board of Ed fails to give the council a reasonable budget all bets will be off.  We are not losing the council or the mayor’s office because the board chair at the time thinks she can control the superintendent.  I need you all, and everybody in this town to know that these have been the political games played on the backs of our students.  It’s just not right and it has to stop today.  So please let the monetary maneuvering and the political schemes end with this new Town Council.  Fully and fairly fund Stratford schools at the level requested by Acting Superintendent Borges with a 6.69% increase our community is counting on you.

Liz Gramling: Good evening. Thank you, Councilors, for your service to our Town. It’s nice to see so many new faces up here. Tonight, I am here to ask the Town Council to find a way to fully fund the Acting Superintendent’s original budget request for a 6.69% increase for next year’s school budget. I do not make this request lightly. The losses outlined by Stratford Public Schools and the Board of Education—if the request is not met—paint a bleak picture for our schools and our Town.  Tonight, you heard many folks testify to the power of teachers—especially our library and media specialists and math and reading coaches—and the difference they make in students’ lives. What an amazing calling, to make the world better every day by helping grow life-long learners.  You also heard about how high-quality schools improve property values, increase a town’s attractiveness to businesses, and help nurture the next generation of leaders. Financially, it’s a pretty good return on investment.  And you also heard about the transformative power of meeting students where they are and providing them all the supports they require to succeed as learners. Tonight, I want to talk about potential. I want to talk about the future. I want all of us to reflect on our vision for Stratford and how to make that reality. It all starts with our public schools. It starts with growing problem solvers and learners right here, right now, and giving them the tools to go forth and make more great things happen right here in Stratford. They start their own businesses here. Or maybe they take over a family business that’s already part of our community fabric. They raise their families here, excited to send their kids to the same schools they attended. They use their skills, expertise and talent here, to keep lifting Stratford up, giving of their time and selves to continue the good works of organizations like Sterling House, the South End Community Center, and our faith and school communities, just to name a few.  Our students already have roots here. Just imagine how they can grow—and grow Stratford—if we invest in them.  I believe we will reap what we sow. And when we succeed, we will succeed together. A 6.69% increase is an investment in our future. I encourage you to be forward-thinking and see Stratford as it can be. 

Sabrina Ramirez: I am a graduate of Stratford public schools and where my younger brother is currently still in attendance.  I am currently completing my student teaching and will complete my coursework this Spring.  As an aspiring educator I am extremely concerned about the Board of Education suggested budget cuts.  You may be aware that there is a wide teacher shortage and yet the Board of Education has proposed to eliminate upwards of 35 teaching positions.  35 if these positions are eliminated due to a lack of funding by the town.  I am certain that prospective educators will steer clear of the school district which includes myself.  Current teachers who are dedicated to their jobs and have built amazing connections with students will be displaced as a result of bumping that will take place which also includes my cooperating teacher.  Prospective home buyers who are looking to raise a family in a nice town with good schools will skip over the town of Stratford if these cuts end up happening.  Yes money is not endless, however there must be other options to explore.  Eliminating certified librarians and replacing them with tutors is not a viable solution.  Librarians not only spark a love of reading, but they are the sole technology teacher at an elementary level, and not to mention the front lines of it.  Reading consultants are the key resource who provide our students with intervention and tiered instruction to help close the gaps and combat the learning loss of Covid that is still so very evident.  Math coaches help the learning loss, no sorry, math coaches help and support our students who are still struggling in various areas of computation while providing classroom teachers and support and innovative ways to close the aforementioned achievement gap.  I implore you to fund the budget recommended by Acting Superintendent Boros. I encourage you to find solutions to the money issues that seem to plague this town, which directly affects the students ability to thrive and to be successful academically socially and emotionally.

Maria Ferrera:  I am the daughter of immigrants.  My parents immigrated from Italy in the late 50s and when I was born everyone spoke Italian in the house, so I was behind in my reading and the teachers at school sent me to the library.  The librarians helped me with ESL materials and helped me improve my reading.  I stand before you a product of libraries and librarians.  I am the President of the Stratford Library Association and a lifetime reader.  I have lived in Stratford for 30 years and I have supported the Board of Education.  I don’t have children, I’ve never had kids in school, I gladly pay my taxes to support education in our town.  Librarians are important, they help you navigate the world of information, and I know that the internet is big and everyone looks into the internet to find information, but without librarians you wouldn’t really know how to navigate all that information.  Please fully fund the BOE and the Stratford Library.  Also on the 27th of April we’re having our library fundraiser, it’s called Hooray for Hollywood, I hope you all get your invitations in the mail and that you can please come and join us.

Sonia Devit: I’m here also to speak with regard to what I have been reading about in the various media, the elimination of librarians,  the elimination of special subject coaches, enrichment opportunities, etc. also the elimination of the ALPHA program.  All of this is being proposed and yet we’re in an Alliance District, we’re one of the lowest 10% functioning school systems in the state.  How does this make sense how does it make sense to be eliminating special Support Services and this enrichment that makes for successful students?  When we are at the bottom 10% of the state.  School libraries and programs that provide individual and small group attention are essential to improving the skills of all students, never mind struggling students.  Rather than eliminating Alpha we should be improving it. The internet reports that the top five performing school districts in Connecticut are Westport, New Canaan, Wilton, Darien and Greenwich.  Have we studied what they are doing to be so good?  I would think that would be a top interest of the Board of Ed.  For one thing I would hope they’re studying to see what we could be copying, maybe we could learn something.  I know it would cost money, I don’t want to hear that they’re a wealthy and advantaged Community because not as long as we’re going to cut our own education budget.  I’ve read that in 2020 we created an reserve fund that has never been funded every year.  The Council wants the Board of Ed to save money almost every year, the Board of Ed delivers a surplus, yet instead of putting the Board of Ed surplus into the ERF it puts the Board of Ed surplus into the town general fund to keep the mill rate down.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Why should the Board of Ed continue to deliver surpluses if they don’t reap the benefits?  I’m sorry your honors but it doesn’t sound right to me and it’s not smart.  We can do this, we can regardless of mill rate.  People don’t like to live in expensive towns or high tax towns but they don’t like to live in towns that don’t have good schools either. We can do this so let’s do it.

Sarah Corilla: I was the loud one, I apologize my emotions got the best of me. These three are the faces of those affected if they lose their tutors.  Are y’all going to be the ones they come home to and cry to “why they’re not good enough to be in class with the rest of the other kids”,  make them feel lower than they already have?  These three since kindergarten, my son’s in second grade my girls are in first, they’ve worked with math, and reading.  The library teacher was essential, until she stoped coming sad and who was the one who had to put it back together at home and tell them you just go in, you be yourself, you do the best you can, and you learn learn learn.  There’s no dumb questions, you’re with your tutors because they want to help you do better and be you, and guess what you’re doing it!  This one right here, my girl Jade she came home the other day, she said my math teacher told me I’m doing good, but Mom I’m doing great cuz guess what I can count to 120.  Now these kids the things that they do in school I don’t get privy to.  If I could be a fly on the wall!  I can only thank these tutors, these learning specialists, the librarian so much, but they really don’t have any idea how much I really appreciate what they’ve done for my three.  They have the rest of their educational careers ahead of them and they’ve cried, they’ looked look down on themselves, and they’ve turned it around because of the people that work with them every day that tell them you can, and this is how, and I’ll show you, and I’ll help you,  and I’ll give you that extra attention, one minute that that 20 something class can’t give you.  Their teachers are the best teachers, they really are, but when they get that extra help with those tutors and those learning specialists and they go for that to that library media specialist — guess what-that’s the fill in the Gap, that’s the love that’s missing, that’s that extra one-on-one attention that’s brought them from down here to up here within themselves and I don’t want to see that taken away by four people, one of which has children in the same school as my kids.  Disgusting, and she couldn’t even stay, she could not even stay to hear me say this tonight.  So what does that say about the people that voted to take the learning away from my children.  Look at this shirt, “not all who wander are lost”, I don’t want my babies to be lost and now they finally feel like they aren’t.  Please please don’t make all their hard work go in reverse because they’re looking forward to moving on to the next grade, because I know they can do it and now they know they can do it too because of who they’ve worked with.

Lisa Carol Fabian: I’m not only an elected member of the board of education but also the collective voice of my fellow educators, parents, and advocates for our schools and most importantly our students. I urge you to stand with me and support the Acting Superintendent proposed 6.69% budget increase, a vital investment in the future of our educational system.  Recently the Board of Education faced a pivotal decision, one that felt like a step backward rather than forward.  Despite recommendations from professionals the majority opted for a mere 3.27% increase endangering critical aspects of our schools.  This decision puts essential roles including school librarians reading and math coaches and the ALPHA program at risk.  Alpha isn’t just a program it’s a Lifeline for our most vulnerable students offering support that can change their lives and redirect their paths toward success.  Many of these students bravely show up every day because of the nurturing environment Alpha provides.  It’s a supportive family that Fosters growth and resilience.  I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact of this program, and I invite you all to go see it for yourself and speak to our children.  Adding to the gravity of the situation former council chair Chris Pia asked Acting Superintendent Borges to explore alternative budget increase options to their original 6.69 increase.  This request included 5.5, 4.5, and 3.5.  Miss Mangini and Borges couldn’t even consider presenting a 3.5 despite their professional expertise as it would significantly harm our schools.  However the Board of Education majority chose to propose a 3.27% increase, a drastic  drop from the acting superintendent’s initial 6.69 request.  Such a deviation from professional advice is unprecedented and alarming.  It’s disheartening to see individuals make decisions that disregard the expertise of trained professionals.  Never before has a board of education adjusted a budget request at a percentage Point lower than what professionals proposed, yet, some members of our current Board of Education chose to go below the recommended increase and cut it by over half.  I leave you with this — just two years ago I had the privilege of addressing the graduating class of Bunnell high school where I emphasized the importance of making brave choices that define your paths.  Today you are faced with one of those pivotal decisions.  As Nelson Mandela wisely said, “may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears, let us not be driven by fear, but by hope for a brighter tomorrow”.  Investing in our schools means giving our students the resources they need to thrive and empowering them to make brave choices.  It means choosing courage over complacency and hope over fear.  Esteemed council members I urge you to consider the profound impact of your decisions on the lives of the countless students who depend on us.  Let us come together and make the Bold Choice the Brave Choice the Right Choice to invest in our schools and the future of our community.

Michael Langston:  I come here wearing two hats, one as a resident and a father of graduates of the Stratford school system.  My daughter went on to get her doctorate in pharmacy at Northeastern, my son struggled a little bit, but he was able to get through with the help of a lot of the special services that you’re looking to cut.  So I was raised in Bridgeport, they went out of their way to make sure that libraries were open.  I lived closer to Stratford than, I did know where most of the libraries were, I had access to what was called the Bookmobile.  They knew the understanding of getting books to the masses and a lot of the more unserviced kids of the community, and you’re looking to reverse that.  That doesn’t make any sense.  Secondly I am the President of Local 376 UAW, who represents the para professionals and cafeteria workers.  Myself and Sarah spent a lot of time in your schools talking to your principles, arguing with your admin people.  It’s a shell game they’re playing.  Now that $2 million surplus – you’re understaffed that’s why you have a surplus.  Now you want to cut even more so teachers have to be frustrated with bigger classes.  PA professionals don’t even know what they’re doing anymore, what their job descriptions are, because they play a shell game.  There’s no such thing as a one-on-one anymore, now it’s a one teacher three students.  The teachers, the parents, need to know this and I’m going to make in my life work letting them know this.  They’re getting underserved.  What you have left here after the pandemic are people that want to be here.  You can’t hire para professionals, you cannot hire teachers that want to come, you’re not even compatible or comparable with other towns around you.  So it’s going to be a race to the bottom.  They’re understaffed, they’re overworked, you’re looking to cut money for substitutes, they can’t even have a mental health day!  There’s not going to be anybody here.  You are on the brink of The Frying Pan getting ready to fall into the fire.  Now my kids are gone, got their educations, I seen it started happening when you eliminated Stratford Academy, and then having kids go to their home schools.  That didn’t even work in the 70s because all the money flowed North past the Mill River Country Club, and now you’re looking doing the same thing over again.


  1. I’ve never had children in Stratford schools and an increase in our taxes harms my ability to survive in Stratford. People who have children in Stratford schools could feel free to pay the 6.69% tax hike since their kids are benefiting.

  2. An increase in the allocation to our schools does not translate directly to equally that much increase in our taxes. The budget reflects what is considered important by those crafting and supporting it. The budget makers decide how our monies should be spent. If our schools are left to flounder, then Stratford will suffer. New residents will not come to a community with failing schools, and, like everything else in the world, success requires financial support. That should not mean higher taxes but better allocation of the funds that we have.


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