Letter: Shelton BOE member details successes, enrollment drop

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 has been an honor to serve Shelton these past two years on the BOE. This experience was not only one I would learn from, but also was challenging given the circumstances. I wanted to take this opportunity to speak directly to parents to share my perspective regarding concerns about the quality of the education that their children are receiving. I understand, respect and admire the level of concern Shelton parents have shown on a variety of issues. If there was an issue, we certainly heard about it. I am from a slightly older generation and I do not remember my parents being this attentive to the details of my day, so I am impressed.

One area of concern will always be the budget. I understand that parents might not see increases in the BOE budget every year and that can be very upsetting. In our last BOE meeting, Superintendent Saranich had outlined a justification of not replacing 11 retirees. This was tied to the reduced enrollment that we have been experiencing each year for more than 15 years. In 2010, we had a reduction in enrollment of 170 students. This was our highest single year reduction until last year. Last year we had a record reduction of about 248 students. Just to put things in perspective, that is comparable to 10 classrooms in one year. This reduction in turn amounted to a 6.8 percent increase, our largest, in per pupil spending in our history. In fact, our per pupil spending has increased every year for the past 17 years. This was without counting any funds we received from COVID totaling $6 million. I would ask anyone that questions Shelton’s commitment to its students and education to keep these numbers in mind. This acknowledgment and accountability is important to maintain our credibility for when we ask for funding from the city. It is an obvious fact, but it is a critical step in maintaining credibility.

Decreasing student enrollment is not a unique problem to Shelton. According to www.ctbythenumbers.com, over the last five-year period, Connecticut’s enrollment declined by 18,518 students.

I am not suggesting that these numbers tell the entire story. They do not. I hope that this information can help parents keep things in perspective and that these numbers show a commitment to educational excellence in Shelton. We need to continue to work hard to improve the curriculum, monitor class sizes at all levels, focus on special and individual student needs and provide premium state of the art technology in all classrooms. Here are just a few BOE accomplishments in just the past two years:

· Wit and Wisdom-new ELA curriculum

· More than $5 million reimbursable dollars recovered for tax payers

· Settlement of Bridgeport lawsuit

· No charge pre-k program

· 1:1 chrome books for students

· Laptops for teachers and staff

· 3 percent raises for teachers for three years

· Increased network capabilities - 10 times increased speed

I am proud of what our current board and school administrators have accomplished. I also feel confident in our qualified and dedicated staff. I have enjoyed working with all of my colleagues as well as the city. The leadership from our board Chair Kathy Yolish and Vice Chair Jim Orazietti along with the work of each sub-committee has been outstanding.

In closing, I leave you with this thought when looking to the future of our education, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Carl Rizzo

Shelton BOE