The district must address New Lebanon School’s overcrowding

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

New Lebanon School immediately needs $400,000 from budget reserves for a project to keep all students at our school come August.

Our school faces overcrowding that could potentially lead to fifth grade classrooms moving to Western Middle School in August. I implore funding of this amount.

New Lebanon’s space issues aren’t new. The superintendent’s office, the Board of Education and the town have known about the overcrowding for years. Portraying it as a one-year and two-classroom problem is dishonest. The facts prove this fallacy. Five classrooms are needed for proper instruction.

The class-size numbers — prior, current, and projected — show how NLS is already bursting at the seams. Currently there are collapsed sections in the same classroom — with four classes occurring concurrently. Closets are used for instructional space. This is outrageous and unconscionable. The stage is used for instructional space. Some special needs students aren’t enrolled here because of space. Our preschool students are in other schools. Last year’s three first grade classes were consolidated into two this year. Now they are one to two students away from needing another class, which is projected to occur in August. There are three first grade classes, three kindergarten classes this year and three expected for 2013-14.

Per the superintendent’s overview of options, a reasonable $400,000 to enclose the courtyard area would enable two classrooms to be remodeled from current space. This would keep the fifth graders on-site and enhance school security by situating the administration offices by the entrance. $400,000 must be allocated immediately to start this project.

For the long term we must change the next fiscal year budget to address the ongoing overcrowding.  The budget the superintendent submits in fall 2013 must allocate money to add a second-floor addition of some size to address long-term needs. Building upwards creates no digging issues.

New Lebanon’s needs should be judged on their own merits, not sacrificed to address other district issues. Projected overcrowding of six other town elementary schools is projected. New Lebanon’s need is here, now, and overdue. Fund this urgent project — our children deserve it.

 

Clare Kilgallen
Greenwich

 

The author is a member of the New Lebanon School PTA.

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