Mixed feelings about last year’s restructuring make it hard to call it a complete success, but it seems that most parents and children are, if not overjoyed, at least willing to go along with the plan.
PTA President Laura Katz was in the building recently working on plans for the school year, which begins today. Her son, Owen Schmidt, will be in fifth grade at Meadowside, while her daughter, Ginger Schmidt, will attend .
Katz said the restructuring plan that put her children is separate schools last year was a pretty smooth adjustment.
“The before-and after-school care made it a bit of a hassle,” she said. But, she added, “The staff in both schools worked together to make it work.”
At , parent Kelli Kupson’s son, Andrew Kupson, will be in second grade this year. Her daughter, Hannah Kupson, who went to Orange Avenue until last year, will be in fourth grade at this year. Kelli Kupson has a third child who attends a private pre-school in Milford.
“It’s difficult,” she said of the fact that her children all attend different schools. “I can’t devote my time to one school. I’ve been vice president of the Orange Avenue PTA for two years, but this year I will devote my time to Calf Pen Meadow.”
Kupson and her daughter praised the efforts of the teachers in both schools to make the transition smooth.
“My children had excellent teachers,” she said. Asked how she felt about the new school, Hannah said, “Once I got to know the [Calf Pen Meadow] kids, it was OK.”
But, they described a lack of consistency between schools.
“Things are done differently in the two schools,” Kelli Kupson said. In addition, she said, there were “too many third graders in one school to do things all together.”
To make field trips and other activities possible, there are occasions when the grade is divided.
At the July 11, 2011, meeting of the Board of Education, Trista Simoncek -- the parent of two children, one at Orange Avenue and one at Calf Pen Meadow - said it was stressful for parents with children on staggered schedules. Along with the increased child-care expense, Simoncek said the schools did not integrate at all.
“The culture isn’t unified,” she said in an interview after the meeting.
She also mentioned the lack of communication between parents and schools.
“Parents are not going to the meetings [any more] because the board did not listen,” she said.
She spoke to the Board of Education with the hope that they will develop an action plan to remedy some of the problems.
Board of Education member Jay Tranquilli has been another voice criticizing the reorganization plan.
“It is not breaking up the family,” he said after the July BOE meeting, “But it’s not in favor of the family.”
Tranquilli called the administration’s survey after the first year under the reorganization plan “skewed.” In 2010, he initiated a website called www.milfordspeaksout.com, which has been inactive since the spring of 2010. In a telephone interview, Tranquilli reported that he hopes to have the website active before the start of school this year.
“My goal is to get the people's input – to know how people feel about the reconfiguration” he said.
The plan passed with a 6-4 vote with Tranquilli, Tracy Casey, Jack O’Connell and Diane Kruger-Carroll voting against it.
“I think we were rushed into making the decision,” Tranquilli said. “We should have been given more options.”
Board of Education chairman, Dr. Mark Stapleton, who voted for the reorganization last year, said that the reorganization plan is currently being reviewed by school administrators. While the school board and administration recognize some of the negatives presented by the plan, he said, "The benefits outweigh the inconveniences."