Stamford Parents: Don't Move Bilingual Programs

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Jennifer Macklin, a music teacher and parent at Westover Magnet School in Stamford, is worried about how the additional bilingual classes would affect the school's day-to-day operations. Photo Credit: Anthony Buzzeo

STAMFORD, Conn. — Parents and teachers in Stamford are worried that the bilingual and English Language Learner programs in the public schools will be moved.

“I feel you’re sending all of this hard work to the trash,” Alex Meza, a bilingual teacher at K.T. Murphy Elementary School, said during a public hearing Thursday night. Most of her students are on grade level by the end of the first grade, Meza said.

About 98 percent of her students walk to school and consider the school a second home because, she said. Meza said she has gotten to know the families and helped the parents as much as the children.

Superintendent Winifred Hamilton has proposed moving and consolidating the number of schools with bilingual and English Language Learner programs from nine to four in her budget plan. She said the Department of Justice wants those programs to have more consistent professional development and be better monitored.

“I don’t think we have all of the answers yet,” said Cande Yeager, a parent at Rogers International School, urging parents to come together and determine the best course of action.

Susana Vidan described it as ironic that the district wants to expand the world language program in the elementary schools yet consolidate the bilingual program. She suggested trying “to kill two birds with one stone."

Hamilton's spending proposal is for just less $245 million, a 3.5 percent increase from this year’s budget. She originally proposed a budget for $245.4 million, a 3.66 percent increase but has made several changes. Among others, Hamilton removed $600,000 for security guards and instead proposed a panic button system for $260,000.

School security proposals may change when the school board hears recommendations from a city task force Feb. 13.

The board is scheduled to vote on the spending plan Feb. 5. It goes to the mayor Feb. 28. It will then go to the Board of Finance and Board of Representatives for final approval by the end of May.

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