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Education concerns

On Monday, June 18, the East Longmeadow School Committee will meet to discuss the need of an additional fifth grade teacher at Mapleshade and Mountain View schools. The class size projections at Mountain View are 27 students and 25 students at Mapleshade. These numbers do not include any children who may move into our district over the summer, something that regularly occurs in our community.

Over four days, nearly 800 signatures were collected from a cross section of East Longmeadow residents, which included the elderly, young adults without children, families of school-age children and empty nesters. Everyone shared our concern regarding the quality of education our children deserve!

In 2003 and 2004, our current fourth grade children were in first grade. The class size at that time was 27 students. Parents, teachers, and administration worked with the Superintendent to advocate for smaller class size. As a result, the School Committee approved funding for an additional first grade teacher. It was the understanding that the additional teacher would then follow this group through the elementary grades. This occurred in second and third grade, however, in fourth grade things changed. The students went from five third grade classrooms into four fourth grade classrooms. The result was an increase in class size to an average of 27 students. We all commend the teachers, support staff and administration for making the most of a difficult situation. However, 27 children in an inclusion-based classroom is not an optimal environment for learning. The physical space is also not conducive to teaching 27 children.

Our teachers and children continue to confront the increasing demands that the MCAS and current federal mandates have placed on them. We need to provide our educators and students with an environment and tools they need to be successful.

According to United States Department of Education studies, children in smaller size classrooms obtain higher test scores, participate more in school, demonstrate improved behavior, and retain many benefits of early class size reductions in their later years of schooling.

There is no choice; the School Committee must reconsider funding the fifth grade teacher positions for the 2007-2008 school year. Our children cannot afford to be in a classroom with 27 children for three out of their five elementary school years and be expected to be as successful as their peers in smaller class size environments.

This group of children was the first big wave to hit the district. Class sizes continue to rise behind them. During this past school year, the district has failed to provide a favorable student/staff ratio for these students. Our School Committee has assured us that they will make every effort to address this in the future. However, our children are at a high risk and cannot wait another year and remain in classrooms that are overcrowded with environments that are not conducive to learning.

With a budget that is 19.89% higher than in 2004, we hope that the School Committee will rectify this situation and appropriate the money to fund these important positions prior to the August 1 notification of classroom assignments. Please join us in showing your support at the next School Committee meeting on Monday, June 18 at 7:30pm in the Superintendent's conference room (entrance off Marshall St.).

Susan and Mark Moynihan

Kristin and John Kirwan

Tim and Judy Bates

Karen and Tom Byrne

Kate and John Rucci

Diane and Michael Fradette

Jene and John Connor

Mary and Donald Deshaies

Shauna and Greg Dobek

Steve Forbush

Lori and Eric Pahl

Joanne and Steve Casey

Tim and Deanne Daggett

Susan and Frank Ciotoli

Bryan and Chris Blair

Joseph and Donna Imelio

Kathy and GA Hyland

Denise and Paul Kennedy

Corey & Wendy Turer

Richard & Diane Damarjian

Bob and Lisa Butcher

Karen and Bob Phelan

Scot Meara

Kevin M. Sweeney

Dr. Karen E. Marsian

Elizabeth Marsian- Boucher

David J. Boucher

Antonetta I. Marsian

Karl W. Marsian

Tim and Lynn Brown

Joseph & Anne Novak

Joe and Gin Forbes

Deana DiRico

Gregory Fisk

James and Anne Mazza

Cathy and John Turowsky

Laureen and Charles Ross

Brian & Janet Rosenkranz

Kerry A. & Michael Dowd

Beth & Mark Dutille

John and Amy Marcotte

Cathy and Michael Robare