To the Editor:

We are writing to you today as concerned students of the Shelton public schools system. We are high school students; freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, who have grown up and been educated within this district. We have seen firsthand the amazing work our teachers do with limited resources. We have learned in your classrooms, taken your tests, paid your fees, and ridden your buses. We have represented our city proudly as members of numerous sports and extracurricular teams and clubs. We have grown up here, and thus have a deep sense of love and admiration for this town. Our town.

As students we are directly affected by your choices. We do not have a say, as we cannot vote, and we do not currently have a student representative on the Board of Education to voice our concerns. We are completely left out of the process when in many cases student voices could be critical in developing policy which is both necessary yet fair. We understand the fiscal challenges we face as a community. We know Covid-19 is a worldwide pandemic leaving no one untouched. However, we, students of Shelton High School, unequivocally reject the mayor’s proposed fiscal year 2021 budget, which allocates no extra funding for contractually obligated raises, which in turn will lead to a massive cut in services currently offered by the district.

May we remind you that this is the second year in a row that the mayor has proposed a 0 percent increase for the education budget. Last year, there was no Covid-19 pandemic. There was even a tax increase, and yet still, at the end of the day, only a measly $65,000 increase for a school psychologist. 14 teachers were eliminated under last year’s budget. Fast forward to this current year, it is very likely that the school psychologist position will be eliminated once again. Not only that, but now 32 positions total, or nine administrators and an astonishing 23 teachers, stand to be eliminated under the current budget proposal. This will increase class sizes (at a time when we are all being asked to social distance) and limit one on one help from our teachers, adversely impacting the education that we receive.

Further, funding for part-time security staff, field trips, and even the district’s award-winning athletic director stand to be cut if this budget passes as is. We fear cuts to save teaching positions, such as eliminating freshman sports entirely, will be entertained. For our younger students, many of whom are our younger brothers and sisters, we fear their overall educational experience will be adversely impacted as not only will class sizes be increasing, but after school activities will all but be a thing of the past as elementary and Perry Hill schools will shut down after hours and on weekends. We agree with interim Superintendent Dr. Beth Smith when she called this budget at a recent Board of Education meeting “devastating” and “sad” and with Republican vice chair of the Board of Education, James Orazietti, when he called this budget “horrific.” It is, and we students will have to bear the brunt of the cost.

So what can we do, not only as a group of students, but as a community, to help mitigate this drastic of a budget cut? We accept the fact that due to fiscal challenges out of our control the education budget will not be completely funded; there will be cuts regardless. However, we believe that the city can and should do a better job of equitably distributing funds across the mayor’s budget proposal. The mayor has proposed that the overall city budget increase by $600,000, with no increase in taxes and with none of those funds going to education. We believe this increase should be further examined and divided so the education budget gets its fair share. In addition, we believe the city should try to renegotiate certain contracts in order to free up funds. The Board of Education asks the teachers union regularly to come back to the table in order to free up funds, and the city administration should do the same with its own employee contracts. Furthermore, we request that the Board of Education be allowed to keep any surplus they end up with for this current fiscal year instead of returning that surplus to the general fund, and that any savings from the Student Transportation Service, which has not paid its drivers since March due to Covid-19, go back to the education budget for capital projects such as solar panel installation on our schools, which many districts around the country have embraced in an effort to go green and cut energy costs in the long run.

Finally, we ask all of you reading this to please stand in solidarity with us against these drastic cuts to our education system. We know many of you are tired, scared, and unnerved due to the current state of the world. We are, too. But we can’t allow our most important public investment to be shortchanged any longer. Student achievement rates, SAT scores, and graduation rates will suffer, and in turn all of our homes will be worth much less than we first thought. Please send an email to the Board of Aldermen and the mayor opposing this budget. Their emails are attached below.

Thank you.

BOA President John Anglace: jfanglace@comcast.net

BOA Vice President Eric McPherson: emac10jam@comcast.net

Alderman David Gidwani: davidbrandy95@gmail.com

Alderman Stan Kudej: sjkudej@comcast.net

Alderwoman Cris Balamaci: cbalamaci@gmail.com

Alderwoman Noreen McGorty: diaduit@sbcglobal.net

Alderman Bernie Simons: berniezr1@gmail.com

Alderman Anthony Simonetti: mlmadm@aol.com

The Mayor’s email: shelton01@cityofshelton.org

Signed:

•Matt McGee, SHS ’20

•Jess Wurms, SHS ’20

•Jocelyn Kirwan, SHS ’22

•Charlotte Zilinek, SHS ’22

•Mary Pavilouk, SHS ’23

•Jules Cayer, SHS ’21

•Trevor Boczer, SHS ’20

•Martina Pastore, SHS ’20

•Kyky DePina, SHS ’21

•Florian Hurlbert, SHS ’21

•Evan Kryger, SHS ’21

•Ben Gilmore, SHS ’20

•Danny Connolly, SHS ‘22

•Ben DeMartino, SHS ‘22

•Megan Breunig, SHS ‘22

•Charlie Santa, SHS ‘24

•Sophia Vitininskyi, SHS ‘23

•Khalid Mahfouz, SHS ‘22

•Julia Meyer, SHS ‘19

•John McFadden, SHS ‘20

•Emanuel Louime, SHS ‘20, Student Council Vice President

•Haley Gabriel, SHS ‘20

•Michael Ortiz, SHS ‘20

•Tina Ni, SHS ‘22

•Matt Ryder, SHS ‘22

•Vanessa Lewis, SHS ‘20

•Sydney Powers, SHS ‘20

•Paul Pavliouk, SHS ‘24

•Andrew Pavliouk, SHS ‘26

•Max Dymerski SHS ‘21

•Alexander Osborn, SHS ‘22

•Katie Mandolfo, SHS ‘22

•Karina Friend, SHS ‘20

•Rachel Brown, SHS ‘20

•Riley Woodyard, SHS ‘20

•Mia Chen, SHS ‘22

•Ana Julia, SHS ‘23

•Jai Goel, SHS ‘22

•Adriana Franzese, SHS ‘22

•Destiny Haray, SHS ‘20, Student Council President

•Amber Haray, SHS ‘21

•Stephanie Johnson, SHS ‘19

•Julie Hoff, SHS ‘20

•Jase Co, SHS ‘22

•Sara Taylor, SHS ‘23

•Bobby Marcinauskis, SHS ‘20

•Tori Weed, SHS ‘20

•Victoria Villalobos, SHS ‘20

•Ryan Nettle, SHS ‘20

•Alyssa Cyr, SHS ‘20

•Kade James, SHS ‘20

•Sammie Smalick, SHS ‘23

•Nick Henckel, SHS ‘19

•Timothy Weinmayr, SHS ‘21

•Michael Monaco, SHS ‘21

•Connor Habrecht, SHS ‘21

•Max LaMonte, SHS ‘21

•Holly Mosher, SHS ‘21

•Patrick Burden, SHS ‘21

•Pranav Nair, SHS ‘21

•Connor Craft, SHS ‘19

•Gavin Newell, SHS ‘19

•Christopher Goldspink, SHS ‘19

•Anthony Gabino, SHS ‘21

•Michael Lysik, SHS ‘21

•Ryan Woods Jr., SHS ‘21

•Kevin Ly, SHS ‘18

•William Woods, SHS ‘23

•Meleny Lopez, SHS ‘21

•Carlin Kestenbaum, SHS ‘21

•Kyle Heiden, SHS ‘21

•Ryan Madison, SHS ‘21

•Jay Wakeman, SHS ‘20

•Annelyse Sherman, SHS ‘22

•Daniel Wakeman, SHS ‘22

•Gianna Loughman, SHS ‘22

•Rebekkah Hurlbert, SHS ‘23

•Sarah Kearn, SHS ‘23

•Aurora Sosa, SHS ‘23

•Matt Murphy, SHS ‘23

•William Sosniak, SHS ‘23

•Lexi Harpell, SHS ‘23

•Ereana Pappano, SHS ‘21

•Lex DeJesus, SHS ‘19

•Caidyn Collins, SHS ‘21

•Caroline Richmond, SHS ‘22

•Jeremy Aprea, SHS ‘22

•Joe Kim, SHS ‘20

•Katherine Daxner, SHS ‘22

•Marissa Berg, SHS ‘22

•Maggie Smalick, SHS ‘20

•Allison Dapp, SHS ‘20

•Elizabeth Cayer, SHS ‘22

•Mia Kmetz, SHS ‘22

•Sean Drury, SHS ‘21

•Marisa Savino, SHS ‘22

•Kate Clomiro, SHS ‘20

•Samantha Chase, SHS ‘20

•Adrian Martinez, SHS ‘22

•Tony Grippo, SHS ‘20