To the Editor:

It should first be noted that we believe in and will always fight for any funding that is necessary to maintain level services. Inflation is a fact of life and cannot be ignored.

With that being said, our top five issues for the year of 2020 include:

1. Eliminate ‘pay to participate’ fees

In previous years, the town paid for equipment and travel costs for sports. Now, with pay to participate, students and parents need to pay. It’s not fair to tax parents and students up to $500 dollars for doing what they’re told to do; staying out of trouble and participating in after school activities. This also presents a hurdle in front of activities that are crucial to put on a college resume. School isn’t just about sitting in a classroom and learning the core subjects. What students remember the most from their high school experience is the memories they make participating in extracurriculars. We must make these activities free and accessible at the point of service to all.

2. Decrease class sizes

Last year our district laid off 14 teachers, four of whom worked in our elementary schools. Since then, numerous parents have complained that class sizes are increasing for our youngest students. In particular, grade 3 at Mohegan school currently averages 25.3 students per classroom. Further, grade 1 students at Sunnyside School average 26 students per classroom. This is unacceptable. Smaller classrooms mean more one-on-one time with teachers, less disruption, and higher student achievement scores in the future. It’s long past time Shelton prioritized our younger students by hiring more teachers and limiting class sizes.

3. Fix the special education pre-K program

The SHS Students Fight for Change group does not stand for discrimination, legal or illegal. We ask that the BOE budgetary cost increases be taken seriously, as they are vital to continue this valuable program. The $63,000 that will be spent on the addition of a fourth teacher, as well as the $120,000 that will allow for neurotypical children to attend such a program free of cost are absolutely vital to allow for the continuation of this program. We also hope to see better communication between the BOE and city officials in the future that will not allow such an issue to reemerge.

4. Elect a non-voting student rep to the Board of Education

The SHS Students Fight for Change Group believe that representation and student involvement will greatly benefit future decisions that the BOE makes. Previous discussion has given us reason to ask for the addition of a representative for the 2020-21 school year. We ask that this candidate be democratically elected by the student body, after going through an application process, which makes certain they are qualified for such a position.

5. Hire an additional school psychologist

The ratio for psychologists per student should be at most 700:1 while the ratio for school psychologists at SHS this year was 923:1. Further, most students do not know that there are school psychologists that they can go to, and if they do know of them, they do not know where to find them. Hiring another psychologist to handle the workload and better communication to students regarding their options is vital to improving our students’ qualities of life. Rates of major depressive episodes in teens rose 52 percent between 2005 and 2017 and many of these cases can be linked to stress from school, and the increasingly competitive task of applying and getting into college.

SHS SFFC is a group of concerned Shelton High School students advocating collectively for the improvement of our education system here in town. We welcome your questions/comments. Send them to SHSSFFC@Gmail.com.

Shelton High School Students Fight for Change