Education, Not A Building Should Be Mission of the System 
        Guest Editorial    BY THE CONCERNED FISHERMAN
                  6 Valley Times, Saturday, May 5, 2001 
     Howdy, folks, it's me again, the Concerned Fisherman. I caught over 25 trout in a two-day period on opening day weekend.  I kept my limit of five as I promised, and they were excellent dinners.  Trout are native to deep, running cold water, and large lakes with depths of anywhere between 18 to 25 feet.  The recent "stocking program" in Witek Park's lower pond is actually a feeding program for the remaining bass that inhabit that area.

     Alderman Michael Kelleher doesn't listen.  For two years l have been telling him to okay a bass stocking program in that pond - not a trout feed for the bass!  You can designate the pond a trout pond by draining out all the water, killing off the bass, refilling the pond again, and then stocking breeder trout in the new waters of this pond:  That costs a lot of money, however, and it doesn't make sense since the pond is already stocked with bass to begin with. There is a distinct difference between a stocking program and a feeding program for the fish already inhabiting the pond.

     Folks, there is also controversy over where to build this new high school.  Some people feel the land where it will be built on this farm isn't suitable.  Forget about the land.  We don't need a new high school!  I want to address a few remarks that were made in the April 30, 2001 issue of the New Haven Register that should confirm these political proponents for this new high school are misleading the public.  They are going to build a 350 seat auditorium. We are supposed to pay $32 million for a 350 student school!  Folks, we may as well rent out seats to students from different towns and cities.  This is crazy!

     Walter Mayhew is the chairman of DREAMS (Derby Residents for Education as the Academic Mission of our Schools).  Well, needless to say, the title is fancy, but the goal is still the same: education should be the mission in the school we have already, and if it's not present now, it certainly isn't going to change with a new building!  DREAMS sounds like a public relations move to me, just to get the building passed.  To keep education rolling in our schools takes a concerted effort on the part of ALL the parents and administrators and teachers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  He also stated that taxpayers who opposed the first project should consider the new high school on its own merits. 

     It's designed as a community building with ample space for fields that the city desperately needs."  Well, now wait a minute. Didn't he just state in his first sentence that education was the mission of this new school? Now he's speaking about fields that the city desperately needs!  The city doesn't desperately need fields or a new high school.  What the city desperately needs is the maintenance of the fields we have now and an educational curriculum that will meet the needs of ALL students in the current school system.  That curriculum, of course, varies from student to student depending on their needs.

     Dr. Martin Gotowala stated that the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) noted overcrowded conditions in the classrooms in their accreditation report.  The NEASC expressed concerns about the teacher-student ratio in the district.  I read a similar report on the accreditation when it came out last year and the only mention from Principal Charles DiCenso was about the curriculum having to be improved.  Funny that this "overcrowding" should be in the report at this time a month before the referendum.

     Folks, the classrooms aren't overcrowded.  There are only a certain amount of desks for a certain amount of students.  You can't overcrowd a classroom.  Some subjects will be larger because they are required classes like English, math and science (unlike home economics, art or music which are electives).  With less than 700 students in this school, overcrowded classes don't exist!

     In closing; I would like to add that the NEASC also noted concerns about the failure of the community to maintain appropriate school facilities.  Folks, I'm livid over this one!  We maintain appropriate school facilities by the taxes we pay on these public schools!  What are we getting back for the dollar?  Lower test scores, bad student attitudes, and low honor roll lists.  Look, folks, the referendum is on June 12.  We need everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, to vote NO to this absolute insult to our community.  When I think of the man hours people I know have devoted to the children of Derby and to have to put up with statement, Dr. Gotowala owes the people of this city an apology.  We have not failed to maintain appropriate school facilities for our youth,it is the people within the system who have failed to maintain the standards of high discipline and concentration, which leads to the scholastic achievements of students in the classroom.  How many times do opponents of this school have to say it:  It isn't the building that makes the student; it is the people inside the building that makes the difference and ultimately decide the fate of the student in his or her educational career. 

Until the next time, folks: "Good fishing, and good living."
(The Concerned Fisherman is a- resident of Derby and frequent contributor of editorial material to the Valley Times.)

< Are there at least four large classrooms which house 1  or 2 persons and many file cabinets - instead of 25-30 students and and academic instructor ? >
< Did the library/media center absorb a large classroom and adjacent office - only to be used for small adult meeting area and cart storage ? >
< Can we look at this B-o-E's record in support of staffing this library/media center over the past decade or so ? > 
< CF: Your 'tax dollars' may have been sparse this past decade or so - ;
   poor student attitudes & effort did not originate w/ the DHS faculty  - ENM >