Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Schooled by the Board of Ed

Last night, 70 angry citizens confronted Middletown's Common Council about alleged plans to close McDonough school, the last of Middletown's neighborhood school, in the city's North End or to close Kegwin a 6th grade transition school.

The meeting began with the mayor explaining that the Council passes an entire budget, and that line item decisions, including those about school closures, are made by the Board of Education.

That being said, parents, teachers and other residents (38 of us by Councilman Phil Pessina's reckoning), walked to the microphone and asked the Council to support education and to oppose the school closings.

When it was time for the Council members to speak they were uniformly indignant. Most inferreed that the Board of Education, in the person of the Superintendent of Schools, and the chairman of the board, had floated rumors of school closings in order to stir up fear, and to activate parental support of the school budget.

The budget the Board of Education proposed, based on the opening of a new high school, asked for a 9% increase. The Council granted 5%, and several councilors claimed that the 5% increase was generous in a poor economic climate and that the Board of Education had plenty of room for the kind of cuts that the Council had to make on the City side. Councilors also indicated that no one from the Board of Education had ever formally suggested to the Council that a school would have to be closed, and no many on the Council made it clear that they were opposed to any school closings.

The Council approved the budget as proposed. The Board of Education will meet on May 20 to address the budget and to discuss where cuts will be made.

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