Letter: Compromise needed to fund full-day kindergarten and pay-for play

To the Editor:

Over the last three months, I have received an education on Shelton politics. I have been involved with the Ad Hoc Committee for Full-Day Kindergarten and attended several meetings on the safety and security upgrades scheduled for our schools.

I have attended numerous Board of Education (BOE) meetings and several Board of Aldermen (BOA) meetings. I had a one-on-one meeting with Mayor Mark Lauretti on full-day kindergarten.

Here is what I learned. All of the men and women involved on the BOE and BOA truly care about our community and dedicate much of their personal time to these boards.

My brief experience with the mayor was pleasant. He understands the needs of the city, he understands education, and he truly wants what is best for the community.

The issue I discovered is the lack of trust between the Mayor’s Office and the BOE. Currently, our school system does not have a full-day kindergarten program and our community must pay a fee for our children to be involved in sports and activities from grades 7 to 12.

Shelton has the money

This isn’t occurring because Shelton does not have the money. This is occurring because the mayor does not trust the BOE will spend the money he gives them in the way he intends.

The BOE does not want to be told how to spend their budget, and believes the mayor is using incidents that occurred in the 1990s to make his decisions around budget amounts.

In regards to safety and security, the grants and plans are in place. However, until parents became vocal, nothing was moving forward.

At this point who is right and who is wrong does not matter. I appreciate that Shelton has the lowest taxes in Fairfield County. I appreciate that BOE, BOA, and Board of Apportionment and Taxation members dedicate their personal time serving their community.

I do not appreciate that Shelton has the funds to put a full-day kindergarten program in place and has the funds for sports and activities to be experienced by Shelton students without costing parents hundreds of dollars — and the only reason these items are not happening is because the BOE and mayor cannot come to an agreement and negotiate the best way to move these initiatives forward.

Their inability to negotiate and compromise is costing many of us money and not providing our children the foundation needed to move forward and be successful.

 Funding priorities

I would ask the BOE, BOA and mayor to continue to make school safety and security a priority. All Shelton boards should be watching the progress of this initiative and moving it forward.

I also would ask the BOE, BOA and mayor to get creative and negotiate a compromise that will give the funds already available in the city budget to fund full-day kindergarten and fund pay-for-play.

The money is available but simply not being spent due to the inability to do what is right for our children and taxpayers.

Lori McKeon