An education is something that every child has a right to. No one can argue against that. The need to give our children the best possible education is something that most towns accept as fact. So why is it, that our town leaders have denied our children that right-the right to be on the same level playing field as children from other towns. These kids are all applying to the same schools and for the same jobs. Why is it that a child born in Enfield is not looked upon by some of our town leaders with the same respect as a child born to parents in almost every other town in Connecticut.
Bill Thomson, former BOE Chairman and now Chairman of the Enfield Democratic Town Committee, is absolutely on target when he says, "In talking to people around town, by far their greatest concern is what’s happened to the Enfield School System over the past few years. The school system has endured four straight years with a 0% budget increase. As a result, 116 positions have been eliminated, and academic and sports programs cut. And we’ve seen two elementary schools closed. It’s sad because I believe Enfield is the only town in the entire state of Connecticut that has gone four consecutive years without any increase to their school budget. Based on the statistics I’ve looked at, Enfield’s per pupil costs are now significantly lower than the state average."
There is something else that needs to be considered as well - property values. Corporations do locate in communities where their employees' children can get a good education. People do move to communities known for a good educational system. And when they do move and buy homes, real estate values increase. Longtime Town Councilman and realtor Cindy Mangini says, "As a realtor, I see how important our education system is to our community. I do not want to see people leaving our town. Rather, I welcome people to Enfield. My hope is that with better opportunities for our students, this will be the trend. The BoE is asking for a fair and reasonable budget. I certainly do support their request!"
Thomson echoes Cindy's remarks when he says, "People are concerned not only about the impact these cuts are having on their children, they’re also becoming worried about the negative impact all these cuts to education are having on their property values. The Board of Education is asking for a 1.56% increase to their budget this year. I think that’s reasonable."
Both agree there is great concern in what has happened to the Enfield school system over the past few years.
Mangini says that there will be a number of "bring backs" with the Democratic BOE budget: "Specifically, a social worker, sports programs, and a guidance counselor. An extension to the Autism program will help our students through the matriculation process."
The public hearing on the budget is scheduled for this Wednesday (April 25) at at 7 p.m. If you are concerned about our children, if you are concerned about property values, and if you are concerned about our town, please voice your concerns Wednesday. The only way to make our town leaders understand the will of the people, is to get out there and express that will.