Letter: New leadership needed to tackle education cost challenges

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

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To the Editor:

It doesn’t have to be this way. With the right leadership, we can work together to keep education spending in check while making investments in our youth, our future workforce. What we have now in Shelton is a dysfunctional game of ego and punishment. No one gains in this scenario.

No taxpayer wants an out-of-control education budget, myself included. We have to balance the needs of our community and keep it affordable for our seniors and families.

As mayor, I will hold the line on spending across the board including in education but I will work collaboratively to identify key areas for improvement and investment. I applaud our teachers and BOE for doing more with less but we cannot bleed the system dry. This doesn’t make for a healthy community. The kind of depletion we are seeing directly impacts the classroom and competitiveness of our young people, potentially in deep ways. We need transparent and open dialogue to fix problems and address challenges which will only come with new leadership.

As many have heard, we are facing a large delinquent payment of more than $800,000 to Bridgeport for magnet school enrollment. This can has been kicked down the road for some time. We have very little rainy day reserve in town so this payment will surely be a challenge and affect other education needs. We also need to make sure that we use the federal COVID-19 funding windfall wisely and to position the schools for the future, especially as it relates to our technology needs given all we have learned this past year. These are important examples of why we should be working together toward the best solutions.

Further, I look forward to working with the BOE to eliminate pay-to-play sports. This additional bill to families needs to be resolved so we don’t deter or stigmatize young people from participating. Keeping our youth involved in positive activities will be a priority of my administration as I know well, from my years in law enforcement, what happens when we don’t.

I will also encourage and support pursuing more grants to support our schools and students. Like many other towns, I will encourage other town departments, like the police and health department, to work with our schools to apply for funding to combat drug usage, mental health needs, academic supports and school safety. We are leaving money on the table.

Lastly, it will take some time to sort out the mess with the school bus company situation, but I assure all parents that I will clean up the mess and they will not have to worry daily about getting their children to and from school.

I look forward to an ongoing dialogue with Shelton residents on important issues. With a cord of decency, and by working together, we can keep taxes low and improve the quality of life and education in our town.

David A. Eldridge

Candidate for Mayor of Shelton