Region 1 parents worried
School budget has yet to be passed
BY LYNN MELLIS WORTHINGTON
Two Kent parents told the local Board of Education last week that they were concerned about the Region 1 district budget, which has been rejected in two referendums, and about the quality of the six-town district’s regional high school.
A hearing on the proposed $14.7 million Region 1 budget for 2013-2014 will be held at 7:30 p.m. today at Room 133 of Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village.
Kent voters have sent mixed signals on the Region 1 budget. In the May 7 referendum, Kent voted 59-43 in favor; on May 30 it voted 67-45 against. The third budget vote will be June 25.
Parent Athenaid Dallet told the Kent school board Thursday that parents are “voting with their feet” and making choices not to send their children to the regional high school. Without naming names, she said she knew families of graduating eighth-graders who plan to move to other towns, attempt home schooling or send their children to private school.
Of the 22 graduating eighth-graders this year, only 12 plan to attend Housatonic in the fall, Principal Matthew Harnett said. The high school has 413 students this year.
Dallet said two of the 22 could attend one of the town’s three private schools — Kent, Marvelwood and South Kent — tuition-free because their parents work there. She said two students were accepted at private schools, but the families can’t afford it and are “sending them to Housy with heavy hearts.”
She asked the Kent board to look into the declining enrollment. In the past, board members have concluded that the low enrollment rate at the regional high school has to do with the number of students whose parents work at private schools. The high school has tried to counter this decline by inviting seventh- graders and their parents to the annual open house. The principal has also made several visits to the local elementary school to meet with parents.
Dallet voted against the regional budget both times. She would like to see both the superintendent and assistant superintendent dismissed. She also objected to cutting summer work for the librarian and the plan to cut 4.4 teachers, saying that it adds to the poor perception of the high school.
Board Chairman Paul Cortese said 45 board of education members from the various towns in the region evaluated Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain, who received favorable comments this year.
Parent Fran Besmer told the local board Thursday that six of her children have graduated from Housatonic Valley, where she said there is “considerable discontent.”
“The deficiencies are glaring,” said Besmer, who is a former representative to the Region 1 Board of Education. “There is a huge disconnect in the central office between the student experience and the product that is being delivered.”