To the Editor:
I sympathize with parents who feel their children’s educational needs aren’t being met, but I feel compelled to remind everyone that a little more than a year ago, the hot controversy in town was over the rising cost associated with special education. The administration and board of education were told in 2012 that they needed to reign in costs for special education. Now, perhaps, they have gone too far.
If we, as a town, want top-notch schools, including special education, we are going to have to pay for it. Unfortunately, we can no longer expect the State of Connecticut to foot the bill for these programs at the levels in the past. Reimbursement from the state has fallen for several years so we need to decide, are we lowering our standards, or paying more to maintain high ones?
If the parents of school aged children in Darien want investment in the schools, they need to be much more vocal during the town budgeting process. As a member of the RTM, I can attest that parents of school-aged children are not proportionally represented, and it is almost always the same very small group of involved parents speaking up for the education budget.
I encourage us to have a reasoned discussion of how we want to address special education, and a realistic look at what it will cost. Wherever possible let’s avoid an adversarial approach which just costs more of our tax money. And, the coverage of the issue has created far more heat than light. Breathless headlines, anonymous quotations and hearsay won’t help solve this problem.
The board and administration have been put into a difficult position, so we need a town-wide discussion of investment in our schools, and if we decide to invest more, every parent needs to be heard so that our government understands that this is a priority we are willing to pay for.
I believe that if we cool off the rhetoric and come together we can do what’s best for everyone.
RTM District III