To The Editor:
At last year’s budget meeting with the Board of Finance and Berlin BOE, BOF Finance Member Kevin Guite asked the Superintendent Brian Benigni, and BOE Member Jake Fisher to explain the open choice program. One would think that the answer would be that we accept kids from other school districts because we teach kids to read with phonics and handwriting skills by the end first grade, or some other educational reason. The simple answer that was given, was that these kids come with more money.
I bring the reading topic up because it is well know that cities like Hartford have on ongoing fight with the State Dept. of Education, on how to teach kids to read, and that battle is between teaching “whole word method” or “phonics”.
Phonics, in conjunction with handwriting, is the only proven way to have kids reading by the end of first grade, and “whole word method”, which teaches kids to memorize sight words has failed miserably.
So what happens to the kids that come here? Are they up to grade level in reading skills?
Or does the school system just push these kids into special education programs, because that’s the only place they can get extra help? And is this inflating our education costs for the Berlin Taxpayer?
I wish Mr. Guite followed up with another question; Does the BOE inflate the number of seats in our budget paid for by the taxpayers of Berlin, knowing they won’t be filled, so that we can get an extra $6000 to $8000 per student from Hartford to keep the status quo and not reduce the school budget based on the declining school population?
It would be nice to get a straight answer, and not a misdirected confusing common core math answer.
Republican Deputy Mayor