The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

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A supervisory union turning its back on a community

The questionable decision to relocate Pittsford's Caverly Preschool and change successful programs of volunteerism

Dear Editor,
Concerned parents would like to draw your attention to what we feel is a serious injustice and abuse of power. A several year struggle in Pittsford, Vt. has come to a head with the Superintendent of Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union, Mr. Castle making a decision to close a beautiful school and relocate our youngest children to the basement of the elementary school.  While a dialogue has been promised since the winter of 2012 at the May school board meeting we were told no discussion could take place and a determination has been made. Upon further research we have found that the Lothrop School board ultimately has deciding power and they have not taken a stance as of today.

With many state officials highlighting the need for universal access to preschool and for those of you not aware of Caverly Preschool we would like to draw attention to a successful and unique program in Pittsford, Vt. This "school in the woods" provides a balanced, quality education to 3-, 4- and some 5-year olds where the children not only learn the alphabet and how to count, but also about social interactions and the world around them. The physical square footage of the building enables the programs to offer the children space to learn and play simultaneously.  The building provides an abundance of natural light providing the children with opportunity to examine the natural world surrounding them even when Vermont's weather is not cooperating. Weather permitting the Pre-Kindergarten program is able to take advantage of Pittsford Trails Network on a weekly basis.

A determination has been made by the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union administration to relocate the preschool to Lothrop Elementary School beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year. On the surface this decision seems benign, but without a clear concise plan as to how to support this program of emerging students at the elementary school the decision is premature at best.

We are asking that the Pittsford School Board to not accept the determination made by the administration to move the Caverly Preschool program to Lothrop until further transparent research, which would include dialogue between parents, staff and administration, can be conducted into the feasibility of the move. It is the school boards responsibility to ensure the youngest citizens of Pittsford have a safe space to receive a quality early childhood education.  The current proposed plan by the RNESU does not provide that. It would be irresponsible of the the Lothrop School Board to accept it and a petition is being circulated in town to address this at a June 6 school board meeting.

As a result of a grass roots parents group asking for transparency the Superintendent has decided to end a decades long tradition of parents and community members volunteering to help support the school. We have been told volunteers are no longer allowed at Caverly. When questioned if this was a district wide decision we were told "it only applies to Caverly." One of the main reasons given for closing the school was lack of support and many adults have stepped forward to offer this support only to be turned away.

One community member put five children and four grandchildren through the school shows his love and support of the program by years of volunteerism. He is so well known and loved at the school all of the children have taken to calling him Papa. He has done countless maintenance projects over the years out of the kindness of his heart-he will no longer be allowed to do this. 

Another caring parent has spent several years doing all kinds of yard work and green up projects… only to be told "no thank you" following a very vocal public school board meeting where the parents questioned the decision making process. These are just two of several dozen parents who have donated time, money resources and support to this wonderful place.  Volunteering and community support are the backbone of this school. What a wonderful way to introduce our little people to a formal education then by welcoming them to a space just for them protected and cared for by all the people who love and care for them.

We ask, if it really takes a village to raise a child why are we allowing a few individuals to bully and make decisions without any input from the people most affected? We beg of you to further investigate this situation, the abuse of power and discouragement of community affects us all and should not be tolerated.  

Respectfully,
Patrick and Michelle Rawls, Stacey Pearsons, Clarence and Donna Greeno,  Brian and Kelly Connaughton,  Travis and Erica Bovey, John and Charity Eugair, Curran and Andrea Milne, Lesley Mack, Derek Stewart, Craig and Laurie Pelkey, Tyler and Melissa Karnai and Greg and Heather Babcock, from Pittsford, Vt.