Letter to the editor

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    To the Editor: I am writing in response to the letter from James R. Heckel, "Do We Need A New School?" After sitting on the Community Task Force with many fellow Sparta residents, I know how a new school will raise our taxes. I also know that if we do nothing our schools will continue to be overcrowded and the education process will suffer - as will our children. A big tax increase is not what we want, but after examining many options, it is what we may need. Heckel refers to a previous study of the middle school needs and states that one must look at this recent study with a "jaundiced eye at the very least." Please know that over 60 people from this community made a commitment to give many hours of their time weekly from the end of March to the end of June to examine every option to solve the overcrowding issue that was available at the time. The solution of a new high school seems to be the best one to address the issue of overcrowding and how to best prepare our students for life after high school. One should be aware of all the different options that were examined and pored over before the committee - just the BOE - came to that recommendation. This information is public knowledge - anybody can get a copy of the report from the BOE to see what was examined. And anyone could have come to any meeting to be informed. Heckel suggests that the overflow of children in our schools be taught in trailers outside of the school. This is a good fix for the time until a permanent structure can be built. It shouldn't be what we strive for when we determine how to best solve the overcrowding issue. We have many "temporary trailers" already in use - Alpine and Helen Morgan both have them. They've been there for years - hardly temporary - and we were told that waivers must be requested in order for us to continue to use them for students year after year. This is not a solution. In a town like Sparta I would hope we want more for our kids - our future - than to learn in trailers. To get to the trailers the students must walk outside in all kinds of weather and if the trailers aren't large enough to have restrooms in them, they must leave the trailer and walk to the school just to use the restroom. I do agree with Heckel that real learning begins at home with involved parents who are involved - not just in their child's class work but in the community issues that affect the schools. Voting in Board of Education elections, attending PTO meetings and knowing what is going on at the Board of Education meetings are important too. Teachers today are stretched so thin. When a teacher is teaching 25 first-graders to read, while at the same time trying to give individual help to the kids that may need extra help, keeping the kids that are moving ahead busy so they do not get bored, addressing the special needs of special education children that are mainstreamed into the classroom - something is going to give. Our teachers are fantastic but they can't perform miracles. Until we commit to making our class sizes smaller and giving our children a learning environment that we can be proud of, we are going to see the test scores fall even lower. Let's make Sparta's educational future brighter. Please become informed about the facts regarding our schools. Call the school superintendent's office and ask questions. If we miss our chance to fix this we may eventually be sending our children to parking lot of trailers for their education. Jill McAleer Sparta