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Maintain Focus On School Closing Decisions
By Lynn Edwards

Published: November 2, 2016

To the Editor:

This statement represents the opinions of the presidents of all seven of the Newtown Public School PTSA/PTAs. We thank the members of the Future Forecast Committee and Board of Education for their dedicated service and many hours devoted to the consideration of whether closing a school is feasible and in the best interests of our town. We believe that the educational success, health, and well-being of our students should be kept at the forefront of these discussions. We hold that is incumbent upon the BOE to strive to provide each student in Newtown an environment in which s/he is inspired to excel and thrive, not only intellectually, but socially and emotionally as well.

There are many important considerations in the proposal to close Newtown Middle School, beyond simply the possible short-term financial savings to taxpayers. The specific proposal of closing NMS with reconfiguration into grades 5 through 7 and 8 through 12 is being considered simply because of the elimination of all other options, and not because it was determined to offer an improved educational or developmental environment. Will that solution be the best possible option Newtown can offer for the intellectual and personal growth of our students? And if that isn’t best for our children, does it truly serve the best interests of our town in the short or the long term? Further, will it actually be detrimental to students, compared with our current grade configuration of separate middle schools?

The middle school years are a critical formative time in development, as our children transform into young women and men. It is part of the civic obligation of all adults in our community to provide an enriching and nurturing school environment to guide and engage students during these years, one which cultivates in them not just their intellect but also the core attributes defined in Newtown’s character tree of responsibility, caring, respect, trustworthiness, perseverance, and citizenship.

We urge the BOE to maintain focus in this decision on providing the best possible school community for our children to grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally, particularly for those in grades 5-8 who would be most affected by the proposed change.

Respectfully,
Lynn Edwards, Newtown Middle School PTA President
on behalf of the presidents of all seven of the Newtown Public School PTSA/PTAs
3 Sand Hill Road, Sandy Hook         November 2, 2016

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