To the Editor:

Hello SK friends and neighbors. I’m reaching out to share my support for the 2020-2021 SK school budget proposal. This was an extremely thoughtful, collaborative effort between our Superintendent, Town Manager, Town Council, and School Committee that was approved by a vote. The ultimate goal of this proposal is to FINALLY create EQUITY within our schools by:

1. Closing a wide, long-standing educational gap between our general education students and students requiring services such as an IEP/504 (learning accommodations and modifications) and RTI (math and literacy plans, etc.). There is also a wide educational gap directly related to RACE and SOCIOECONOMICS. 

2. Expanding foreign language programs so ALL students can access them. DLI is only offered in 2 elementary schools. Foreign Language and Culture studies aren’t offered until middle school. 

3. Imbed true Social/Emotional learning within our curriculum. There is very little of any right now. 

Our Superintendent is passionate about creating EQUITY and has repeatedly stated this as her priority. In order to achieve this, we must have the proper programs and funding in place. There’s been a lot of discussion among community members and a wide spectrum of OPINIONS on where our funds should be allocated. There’s also a petition that circulated and received enough signatures to create a referendum that is now available for the public to vote upon on Tuesday, July 14 at the SK Recreation Center. This referendum will have two questions, one that seeks to reduce the town’s general fund by $300,000 and one that seeks to reduce the town’s transfer to the schools by $1.1 million. What this means is that if the referendum passes then the schools will NOT receive the funds in 2020-2021 to support the launch and expansion the programs listed above. There is an argument that our district can use funds from the cost savings that occurred from months of school closings and emergency funds. The Superintendent AND the Town Manager have repeatedly stated reasons why this use of 1 time “Rainy Day Funds” is in the Superintendent’s experiences, BAD PRACTICE. Due to Covid guidelines and restrictions, there will be costs to reopening the schools and educating students safely. There will be costs associated with safe bussing. In addition, to begin the process of expanding an existing program or begin a new one (which is what we need to create equity) and only have the funds for 1 year (rainy day/emergency fund) without a guarantee of steady funding to support these programs yearly, is bad practice, wasteful and irresponsible. There are several opposing arguments (OPINIONS) circulating. 

As a member of the SK Community, a homeowner and taxpayer, a mother of 2 children attending these schools, one child who receives Special Education Services, and a frequent volunteer within the schools for 8 years, and an after-school enrichment instructor, I can say with absolute conviction that I fully support this budget proposal that was already voted on. With my 8 years of personal experiences in 5 different schools in SK and by going DIRECTLY to the SOURCES (Superintendent and School Administration, listening to public meetings and reading data from the district), I 100% agree with the statements made by our Superintendent that “If the referendum on July 14th passes, OUR STUDENTS WILL BE IMPACTED”. 

I urge you to educate yourself by also going directly to the source with your questions and concerns. There are   too many OPINIONS circulating about this issue and it’s best to get your information as unfiltered as possible. What I’m sharing now is my understanding of the situation infused with my personal experiences and beliefs about education in our district. Yes, I too have formed an opinion but I did educate myself by going directly to the source.

If you wish to support the expansion of Special Education, Foreign Language & Culture, and Social-Emotional Learning within our schools then please vote on July 14th at the SK Recreation Center. 

If none of these programs speak to your needs but you simply wish to create educational equity among our most vulnerable students (Special Education, at-risk, minorities and those living at or below poverty level) then please vote on July 14th at the SK Recreation Center. 

You can also mail in an emergency ballot form to vote via mail! 

What to vote on? There will be 2 questions on the ballot. You will vote to:

1. Approve Town Council's appropriation of $55,994,773 for the school fund.

2. Approve Town Council’s appropriation of $27,430,551 for the general fund.

Heidi Fisher

South Kingstown

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