Open Letter to the BET from the PTA Council Board of Directors
The PTA Council Board of Directors would like to reiterate support for the Operating Budget as proposed by the Superintendent and approved by the BOE.
We ask that the BET sit down with Dr. Jones and the BOE and negotiate a workable solution before submitting the budget to the RTM on May 5th. Much is at stake for the children of Greenwich.
We have heard it mentioned by various Boards and other groups that the financial situation we face is similar to 2008. While that may be true from an economic point of view, there are no similarities when we consider the differences in the delivery of education, and the impact to the actual education of our students. We are facing a situation where our children in Greenwich Public Schools will need more support, not less.
This is a time of uncertainty, and dealing with uncertainty by restricting spending is valid. There are so many unknowns as it relates to our children’s ability to return to the classroom. Will we need more buses in order to facilitate safe social distancing? Will we need a different structure to the school year? Will teachers have to support both in-person learning and distance learning? All of these factors will require more financial support – not less. There will be savings on the other side of the ledger. However, we are concerned about the asymmetry between these savings and unbudgeted expenses, which need to go through at least three layers of approval (talk about uncertainty), extending one or more months. The impact of this uncertainty is on the shoulders of the students. While we adults work through the budget process, our children are the ones paying the price next year and in the future.
The PTAs understand very well that we are all in this together. During this time of distance learning, the “T” in PTA – the teachers – have been adapting to new and different ways of educating our students, often while experiencing challenging home situations.
The “P” in PTA – the parents – have also had to adapt, many juggling work while aiding their children. We appreciate that sacrifice is required, and that sacrifice needs to be shared. Parents and teachers are currently sacrificing for the children.
PTAC understands the current economic issues facing the members of our constituent PTAs. One of the roles of PTA Council is to communicate, and we have received numerous communications reflecting the situations of the members, and we have asked the PTAs to encourage their members to express their opinions. And they have. Every BOE and BET member we have spoken with over the last week has commented on the amazing amount of emails they were receiving. That is how representative government works, and we thank the elected representatives of the people for their work in these difficult circumstances.
We recognize that students and their families are only one part of this community. There are over 9,000 students in the Greenwich Public School system, and the majority of the parents of those students are PTA members. Everyone – parents, grandparents, private school families, empty nesters, taxpayers, property owners – seems to agree that the reputation of the schools, AND the actual education our students receive, is a major contributing factor to the attractiveness of Greenwich, and a justification for our property values. We need to maintain that reputation and that education, which benefits all property owners and taxpayers.
PTA Council is ready to work with the school district, the BOE, the BET and the RTM to discuss all ideas for dealing with the impact of the immediate crisis, as well as ideas to ensure the long term academic excellence and financial stability of our schools.
Cricket Dyment and Brian Peldunas
On behalf of PTA Council Board of Directors