To the Editor:

Participate in our Democracy!  

What school programs will you let our Board of Finance cut? Do we want our kids in even larger class sizes? If the reputation of Wilton schools deteriorates due to perception of Wilton’s values, what happens to our kids… and our property values?

These are questions we must consider, because the Wilton Schools’ already-lean budget is in serious danger of getting cut even further. March 28 is the date those cuts may happen, unless people show up to let their voices be heard.

I watched the Wilton Board of Education and Board of Finance (BOF) budget workshop on TV the other night as they discussed the school budget to understand the issues. As the night progressed, I became increasingly upset about the questions asked by the Finance Committee. I came to the conclusion their questions regarding student teacher ratios, Special Education, student enrollment, and the need for learning specialists to name a few were a product of the public not voicing our views. The BOF, as elected officials, respond to their constituents’ active, effective participation. And that’s all of us … including me!

Can we agree that commenting on Wilton 411 or “liking” on Facebook are ineffective ways of communicating with our elected officials? I do not believe on-line chatter influences the BOF. We need to participate and communicate our views in ways they’ll hear. We need to show up at town meetings or write a letter, if we want to make a difference.

I was disappointed last year that the budget passed only because less than 15% of Wilton voters turned out! Many voted “no” on the budget, and we were just lucky that less than 15% showed up so the budget automatically passed. Our voting record signals to the BOF that we, as a town, are fine with the quality and funding of our Children’s education, agree that the budget is too high, or simply don’t care.

As a former PTA president, and PTA council president and a parent of three kids in the school system I know parents and fellow Wilton residents do care about our schools. I have talked to many upset parents over the lack of technology in our schools, bullies, what common core is, sports fees, the nonexistent Chinese language program, the sadness of sending their special needs child to another school, the lack of gifted programs, the Miller-Driscoll remodel and much more. On the same note, I have talked to many parents happy with the new STEM program in Middlebrook, that Spanish is back in third grade, how well the school handled a social problem, how wonderful a teacher or staff member is, how great reading intervention is and many more.

I know there are parents and Wilton residents who care about our schools and want to see positive change but I don’t see them at these meetings of impact. I don’t hear of letters being written to the BOF and BOE in support of our schools. So, like the Board of Finance, one can only conclude that just a few care about our schools and that the already incredibly low budget being discussed will be cut.

So what will be cut?  Freshman sports? Third grade Spanish? Technology in the lower schools? Librarians? Teachers (which will only increase class size…)? I don’t know. But I do know, I do not want to be standing at the town meeting on Monday, March 28 at the Middlebrook auditorium as one of only 10 parents trying to stop the Board of Finance from making more cuts to the school budget.

So I challenge all Wilton residents to come to the town meeting on Monday, March 28 at the Middlebrook Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.. Make March 28 a date night, girls’ night, boys’ night, bring your kids. Let your town, family and friends see that you support the process and maybe even speak! If you can’t come, have a friend read a letter for you and send a copy of that letter into the BOF and BOE telling them how you feel. Bring a friend! Let’s pack the auditorium! Let the town hear your voice! If we don’t SPEAK UP we erode the quality of our schools, community, property and in turn show our children that we don’t care.

Kimber Felton

2 replies on “Attend the School Budget Hearing on March 28…or Don’t Complain About Cuts”

  1. Kimber Felton seems to ignore the fact that the number one issue in Wilton is HIGH PROPERTY TAXES.The Board of Finance and Board of Selectman are keenly aware of this and it is why they are posing tough questions to the School Board. Surely, when the school operating budget comprises 80% of the entire town budget and huge debt service is in the offing because of the MD project, something needs to give.The ‘For Sale” signs on every Wilton road are evidence that long time residents are pulling up stakes in droves, primarily due to the high cost of living in this town.

    I find it somewhat amusing that Felton refers to an $80 million school budget as “incredibly low.” Compared to what? With three children in the system at a cost of roughly $17,000 each (paid in large part by the elderly and other empty nesters) one would think that Mrs. Felton would be more appreciative of what her family is already given by her neighbors.

    In the end, those who are unhappy with the level of spending on our schools can always opt for the many private schools available to them in the area. Or, they should feel free to send a check directly to the Board of Ed, thus showing a personal commitment to back up their stated wishes.

  2. Ms Felton writes an intelligent and substantive letter requesting what we have been hearing repeatedly during the last several months. She asks simply that people attend the Meeting and express their sentiments so that elected officials can plan, organize and direct accordingly. She expresses her thoughts with reasons, references and in a friendly and encouraging fashion. She is speaking for her generation and we have reflected the same sentiments about how fortunate we have been with the past superior quality of our schools.

    The comment above cannot be further off base. Yes, taxes are a concern of most everyone, but taxes do not rule the world and the people of the Town have the right and privilege to direct those taxes as they wish. There are NOT “For Sale” signs on every Wilton road as the writer claims and there is absolutely no evidence that “longtime residents are pulling up stakes in droves” because of the high cost of living here. On the contrary, senior people graduate and depart from towns in a normal pattern of migration to smaller homes, retirement communities, etc. If people are stretched financially, they move away from Fairfield County to appropriate locations. After using Stay At Home in Wilton to the fullest, there is a time to depart and not expect their community to support them forever. So perhaps angry writers like the above, rather than suggesting that people send their children to private schools should themselves move away to communities where they can be happier, factually correct and pay much lower taxes.

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