LETTER: Greenwich school budget cuts will have a direct and long lasting negative effect on students.

Letter signed by Amanda Allen, Sue Moretti Bodson, Tiffani Bruni, Kimberly Cray, K. G. Bladimirsquy, Christy Doss, Jenny Dutile, Cate Elliott-Bocassi, Daisy Florin, Ellen Fullerton, Lisa Grafeo, Megan Haag-Fisk, Sarah Haag-Fisk, Julie Harrison, Therese Harte, Katie Hertzmark, Emily Hostetler, Patti Jomo, Megan Kelly, Clare Kilgallen, Chalon Lefebvre, Caroline Lerum, Michaelle Toy Liew, Kimberly Maciejewski, Kara Mendelsohn, Carminia Morales, Alice Mullins, Dina Murphy, Kerry Murphy, Audra O’Donovan, Diana Orbanowski, Jaime Patton, Missy Perrucci, Adelia Piazza, Sarah Pocock, Dana Rodriguez, Sarah Rosell, Lydia Rouzeau, Sara Savov, Hilary Stark, Stella Stoyanova, Valerie Sturzinger, Jeanine Urban, Dina Urso, Jaimie Voehl, Tara Waters, Elaina Weaver, Linda Whitridge, Joanna Young, Kathleen Yu, Dawn Zimmerman

What is the kind of town you envision for Greenwich? Is it possible for a town like ours to own a unified and shared vision for this place that we all call home?

We write as a disenfranchised group of Greenwich residents. We are mothers of current and former Greenwich Public Schools students. We are also business owners and professionals, RTM members, attorneys, teachers, town employees, realtors, community volunteers, and stay at home mothers. We come from all walks of life, with diverse opinions, cultures, priorities and political affiliations. Our diversity is our greatest strength as a community! Our common thread is our children and our hopes for their future. It is in Greenwich’s best interest to support and maintain a strong public school system.

Much has been written about the Board of Estimate and Taxation’s (BET) unprecedented decision to cut $3 million from the Board of Education’s (BOE) 2020-2021 school budget request. These cuts will have a direct and long lasting negative effect on all of its current and future students. The Superintendent and the Board of Education have already shared the kind
of painful program and staff cuts that this extreme budget will require.

Our administration, teachers, and BOE should be focusing all of their efforts on figuring out the very complex problem of how we can get back to school in the Fall. While other neighboring districts are already deep into planning, our administration is tasked with spending immense amounts of time figuring out how to meet these cuts.

Our town’s elected BET has stated that they are choosing a path of “prudence” and “caution”, but Greenwich is an outlier in its austerity measures. While times are uncertain, we believe decisions should still be logical and measured. Cautious optimism and forward-thinking decisions are necessary.

Education is the bridge that gives students the chance to build skills necessary to reach their full potential in life. The decisions we make now to provide for and protect education that embraces research-supported elements that are critical to developing children is what will build a legacy of individuals who will work toward perfecting the world we want to live in. The decisions we make now need to protect and preserve the programs we currently offer.

Our town is currently engaged in a war over pennies and dollars. There are values at stake. Those values are at the very core of what makes our town and our families so great. Those values are focused on our children and the long-term livelihood of this town. The BET should be a true reflection of the entire community and should listen when the community speaks en
masse. The groundswell of community opposition to BET’s recent decisions is a stark illustration of the divide between some of our elected officials and the desires of our community.

The situation we are in right now demands that we – residents, taxpayers, parents – clearly define what we hold valuable. We need to come together in support of public education. The children of Greenwich need to be valued more than the dollar itself. There are no do-overs for our children.

On June 8th, the elected officials of the RTM have the power to send a strong statement to the BET by voting YES on Item 7, the BET Budget Cut Resolution (SOMR). This SOMR represents the unified voice of more than 3,000 residents who rose up in opposition to the BET’s April budget vote. We beseech the RTM to give voice to the constituents, whom it represents. We beseech the BET to immediately restore the $3 million to the 2020-2021 education budget and set a responsible mill rate that recognizes that interim funding is going to be needed to fund COVID-19 related costs. Give our schools the necessary funding to move forward in this unprecedented time.

We believe that certain decisions define who you are and what you value. This is one of them.