Greenwich Teacher Union: The Real Issue in Greenwich Public Schools is Underfunding and Overworked Teachers  

Submitted by the Greenwich Education Association’s Executive Board

The Greenwich Time and BET, inadvertently supported by the Superintendent and her cabinet, are misleading the public with a false flag of absenteeism. There are many issues that are concerning for our schools right now, absent teachers is not one of them. In 100 days of school, there has been an average of four sick days and .75 personal days taken by teachers.

GPS is facing the repercussions from years of budget cuts mandated by the BET in every school: fourth grade classes at Riverside School are beyond the guidelines at 27 students in a class, high school field trips are being denied due to a lack of teacher coverage and personnel support, and we have a district-wide extreme shortage of teaching staff for the amount of special education students. With an influx of 168 special education students, the town only hired four additional special education teachers. There is also a need for support staff for the special education increase. We still have 4 open psychologist positions and 2 speech and language specialists, one who left the district mid year.

We have outdated, crumbling buildings. Our students’ learning conditions and the safety of schools are deteriorating with each round of cuts. Despite all of these hardships and more, teachers are showing up and working harder than ever to meet the needs of their students.

Continued cuts forced upon Greenwich Schools by the BET in order to keep the mill rate as flat as possible are decimating our schools. Ultimately this will impact our community’s property values. As stated by the PTAC president, John Fisher, in the January BOE meeting, for the town to fully fund the 6.5% budget increase put forth by the BOE, it would cost the average Greenwich household only $127 for the entire year.

Each day teachers go into schools and make the best of this manufactured fiscal crisis, yet they are being blamed for the system’s failures. By using teachers as clickbait for headlines, the BET and Greenwich Time are doing a disservice to students and our community by circumnavigating the real issues at play.

The hallmark of a Greenwich education has always been striving for excellence; however, recent BET suggestions highlight that the town’s priorities are out of sync. They argue GPS should be hiring the cheaper, less experienced candidates instead of the best candidate for teaching positions and eliminating teaching positions rather than fully funding the BOE. It is our opinion the community values are not inline with what we are reading in the Greenwich Time or seeing at the BET. Our teachers are dedicated and highly decorated for their craft; they work diligently to serve the needs of every student. Your children deserve nothing less.

We hope you will stand with us and tell the BET to fully fund the BOE budget and help fight the negative narrative in the local press that vilifies rather than celebrates countless public servants in our schools.

Respectfully submitted by the GEA Executive Board