I am responding to several articles written in reference to Frank L. Meagher Elementary school. To start I just want to comment that I am a parent of three children that have attended Meagher and now two that will not have the chance. In an article dated May 14, 2011, Pamela Tack stated that “You can’t have an emotional attachment to a building … you have an emotional attachment to the people.” I beg to differ with her on that. Don’t get me wrong now, there is a lot of staff there that there is an emotional attachment to for many people but that is for the time, patience and consistency that those particular people put towards their students in helping them to grow. In debating you, the same staff that is there now was not there when my grandmother attended this school back in 1949. The same staff is not there that was there when my mother attended this school back in 1966 and the same staff is not there that was when I attended this school back in 1984. It is not just the staff that makes it a home; it is the building, the walls, the smell, the surrounding and the woods where we built forts when we were little. It’s the history of it all and that simply includes the people.
In that same article, Kathleen Collins, Robin Jacobowitz and again Pamela Tack stated that we must do something with it. They don’t want it to just sit there so they all suggested something in the realm of making it an alternative school. Hello? If the school is not “suitable” now for the students that are in it wouldn’t that mean renovating it anyway to put an alternative school there. What may I ask is the difference in that? There was also talk of how it would save $680,000 per year to close it. Not only have they closed the alternative school in Tillson and are still paying for the maintenance and upkeep of that building, but in another article there was talk of how it will cost the district another $600,000 just to reroute these children to other schools. Where is the savings?
There is argument all over that the number of attendance has dropped in this district as well, yet in an article dated April 7, 2011, [District Superintendent Gerard] Gretzinger himself stated, “with the number of families that have children coming into kindergarten along with older siblings in other grade levels [there] would be a burden [on those families]” when he was speaking of holding kindergarten registration. Now I ask you, is this a significant number? Is it too many children to have to worry about redistricting after their first year, or was it a misjudgment of words on my part because it would be just another inconvenience for them?
I am not going to sit here and judge which school to close because I feel that each one deserves an opportunity just as well as the children needing them. Overcrowding these schools is not only going to damage the social justice for each child forced to conform to a new community of people; it is going to limit the individual attention that has already brought them so far. Meagher may not have the standard class sizes or large enough classrooms but that is what gives this school a “home” feeling. Everyone is close there. Every child gets the attention they need and deserve because the staff has the accommodations to deliver one on one. They have the time and ability to be able to.
The district sits there and talks about how there is just too much to fix. They push the blame of one school on the downfall of the taxpayers’ economy when in all reality it is up to them how the budget is distributed so why have we waited so long to maintain any of these schools. Why will it take closing a school to help fix a budget that is meant to preserve them?
Where is my money going? In the beginning of the school year I am given a list of items that each one of my children needs to bring with them. Well, let’s look at this. If my money is not going to the necessary supplies, it’s not going to fixing and maintaining the schools, most of which are going to cost over $8 million to fix, then where?
In the most recent article dated Sept. 14, 2011, [school board President James] Shaughnessy tried to make a point about how it would cost $8-9 million alone to not only fix Meagher but get it up to standards. OK, but that is still less than it would cost to simply fix the others in need. According to this write-up, the five-year plan states that George Washington has $9.93 million in needs, followed by Zena at $9.52 million, Harry L. Edson at $9.34 million and Edward R. Crosby at $8.65 million. That still puts us ahead of the game. If the district is eventually going to have to put money into these other schools that is actually topping the amount that Meagher needs than why are we being picked on.