Editor, The Cheshire Herald:
As a parent of two daughters that are enrolled in the CPS I can understand and relate to the many pressures our kids endure today, be it academic, social and/or emotional as well as just trying to be kids in this modern world. As a BOE member serving our community, I understand the complexities the school climate presents us. I am not writing this letter as a BOE member and my views here don’t speak for the BOE. I write this as a concerned parent.
We’ve seen growing concerns over school climate across our country. Some of those issues are affecting Cheshire. No longer are our students “simply” dealing with the pressures of meeting academic performance standards. Whether it’s the political climate, behavioral issues, health, bullying, etiquette, vaping, fake news, problems at home, etc. It’s more important than ever to have productive dialogue over school climate as these issues extend well outside of the classroom. The BOE, I believe, cannot solve all of them. It does take a community on this matter and the community has spoken.
As a community we need to have an actual conversation around the issues heard at the March 18 BOE Open Forum meeting. I continue to be disturbed by the feedback I heard that evening, as well as feedback I have received since then. Our community came out that night not looking to throw stick and stones at the BOE, but to ask for help and to offer constructive feedback. If there was a positive outcome from that meeting, it’s that the Cheshire community is looking to engage with the BOE and CPS to address the concerns that were raised. It was obvious to me that our community wants to be part of the solution and many of you have stepped up to help. Thank you.
The BOE has scheduled a follow-up open forum on Sept. 16. Parents are looking forward to hearing updates to the issues/concerns raised on March 18, and beyond. I hope and believe they were heard, were taken seriously and, where possible, have been addressed. I and other parents are interested in hearing of the positive steps and outcomes the administration has worked on and how they’re measuring these outcomes. We’re also interested in hearing from BOE members on how they’re addressing these concerns.
I’d like to witness actual dialogue take place between the BOE and the public. As a parent, I’d like to know that the BOE is ready, willing and able to help where they can. Whether its one or 100 students affected by school climate issues, every student is important. I’m very interested in hearing from those who came out on March 18 as to whether or not they saw an improvement regarding the concerns they raised. I understand these were sensitive situations and if you don’t feel comfortable speaking publicly again, please reach out to a BOE member and provide feedback.
Let’s face it, communication — as noted by the CPS Communication Study results from the 2018-2019 school year — needs improvement. I believe this will be addressed as part of the Communication Plan that the BOE drafted last school year. In the meantime, I believe that the BOE needs to find optimal ways of engaging the public and keeping the public informed of issues, opportunities and progress as well as feedback. Certainly, action and follow-through needs to continue to help resolve these concerns, but I also believe that the lack of information/communication plays a role in the frustrations we heard in March.
So, please come out to the BOE Forum on School Climate on Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers at Town Hall. Whether it’s to speak, learn and/or show your support, our students will thank you. I look forward to seeing you there.