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‘Launch’ of Middle School Choice lacks community input

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Editor’s note: Norwalk Public Schools has invited fifth grade families to an online town hall Tuesday. NPS has not publicized a link to its meeting. 

Where IS the parent input? Where is the discussion and the communication from the BOE?

I recently saw the NPS website which excitedly announces the “LAUNCH” of Middle School Choice. This is a BIG change for our local education community. There is no doubt that many parents would agree that middle school is the weakest link within NPS, but how does something like this get implemented and placed and already launched on the NPS website without any community input?

The meeting will be held via ZOOM and my guess it will be on auto mute where parents MIGHT be able to participate in a chat, where only selected questions and concerns will be addressed.

I encourage EVERYONE to attend this meeting! Choice is great and I am in favor of school choice for those that wish to partake in it, but I am strongly opposed to a FORCED pick with no guarantee of your neighborhood school. As parents, we deserve discussion, we deserve answers, and we deserve to have a say in our children’s education.

Here are my three major concerns:

  1. It clearly states in the announcement that your child is NOT guaranteed a spot in your neighborhood middle school. If a family wants their child to attend the middle school closest to their home, the student must rank the choice program at that school as their top choice on the application BUT they are not guaranteed the spot.
  2. Buses – most parents know that the current bus schedule, even with our neighborhood schools, is far from perfect, how can we expect to be potentially busing kids all over the city well outside their neighborhood? Buses are late as it is. What about after school activities and programs? If a parent’s schedule does not permit them to pick up their child from a school activity outside their neighborhood, how would these logistics work? Does the child then simply not attend or is the city going to implement funding for buses to travel kids all over the city? NPS has previously stated that transportation is costly and they have had major budget issues surrounding it.
  3. Social Emotional Impact – It is no secret that necessary Covid protocols took a huge toll on our students’ mental health and wellbeing. Now incoming sixth graders, who already are feeling the anxieties of beginning their middle school journey, are potentially not in classes with familiar faces and friendship circles. The transition to middle school is already hard and with Covid, many students have dealt with so much transition throughout their school tenure. So why are we adding to the disruption? Further, how can we expect fifth graders to choose their paths and fully understand the scopes of the programs offered to make decisions at age 10 or 11?

I encourage every parent or taxpayer to be part of the discussion and learn more information at Tuesday’s meeting.

 

Jason Christopher

 

2 comments

Mario Pansino September 27, 2022 at 1:38 pm

There has been no communication with parents around this decision. I don’t see how parents wont be able to send kids to their local middle school. We live, pay taxes to be in certain areas of Norwalk with one of the biggest drivers being schools for our children. This middle school choice should be a lottery for spaces available after all the kids are placed in their local school. The board of ed continues to make decisions without involving parents. This is unacceptable!

Priscilla Feral September 27, 2022 at 2:54 pm

Choice is added, not subtracted.
All can attend Monday’s Town Hall on October 3rd at 6:00 pm for a better understanding about options. Do know that students are guaranteed a place in their neighborhood middle school.

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