Trish Beneway, who has a second grader at Shelter Rock today and will have a kindergartener next year as well, said Danbury schools are overcrowded because the city is affordable.
It's affordable because the taxes are low. The taxes are low because the city doesn't build enough schools, Beneway said.
Danbury has the biggest high school in the state. It has two middle schools and the city needs a third, but the real problem is in the elementary schools, all said Monday night by Danbury Superintendent of Schools Sal Pascarella, Ed.D. The schools held a meeting on how over crowding will be handled in 2012-13. At least 200 parents attended the meetings, and the questions went on for more than 45 minutes.
"I'm appauled at the school conditions," said Christina Sweeney, who has a kindergartner at Mill Ridge and a second child in pre-school.
Both Sweeney and Beneway, along with their friends Wendi Wright and Bianca Perrone, also school parents, were disappointed by Monday's discussion of the school overcrowding solution.
"There's no new information," Perrone said. "We're walking out of here with the same question."
The "same question" was will the Board of Education "guarantee" her children wouldn't be split up next year into two schools. Perrone has a kindergartner in Shelter Rock and a third grader this year. She wants them in the same school, guaranteed.
Wright wrote the question, but the four friends were all looking for some kind of guarantee their school age children (all four have two elementary school students each) would all attend the same school without splitting up the family.
Pascrella and Board Chairman Irving Fox said the plan isn't final yet, but he repeated at least three times Monday night the goal is to keep students from the same family together in the same elementary school. No, he couldn't guarantee it.
Fox said the board's goal is to have a final plan, probably in November. Right now the plan is to pair the two most crowded elementary schools, Shelter Rock and Mill Ridge Primary schools, each with a second less crowded school, Shelter Rock with Great Plain and Mill Ridge with Hayestown Avenue school.
At the same time the board is figuring out how to manage the next two years, the city is considering a longer-range plan called 2020 that is likely to include building or buying a new school. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said at the Mayoral Debate the city will ask voters for bond money in April 2012 for school improvements.
This year some students are being bused from Shelter Rock to Great Plain, and one parent Christy Harty, who lives next door to Shelter Rock, sends her children to Great Plain. She attended the meeting to make sure this would continue.
Harty's family has three children, a first grader, third grader and a fifth grader. When she learned a week before school her third grader couldn't go to Shelter Rock, a week later she learned all three were going to Great Plain. She'd moved into Danbury in August, just before school began.
"I don't want to change. We're good with it," Harty said.