Danielle Dobin: Middle School Views Posted Today Are My Own

Today’s post on Westport’s middle schools generated plenty of comments. The author of the piece — Danielle Dobin — writes:

I wrote this opinion piece. It represents my personal views, not those of the Planning & Zoning Chairman, or any other Planning & Zoning commissioners or P&Z department staff.

The October 22 session will be a meeting of the PZC’s Plan of Conservation & Development High Level Review Subcommittee, to hear public comment regarding Chapter 14: Address Community Facility Needs. Click here to find the 2017 Plan of Conservation & Development.

36 responses to “Danielle Dobin: Middle School Views Posted Today Are My Own

  1. Robert Harrington

    Everyone and at all times should be free to discuss or promote their own personal opinions – and this is true for Danielle Dobin too.

    This is not what happened here.

    This was a huge overstep of your elected power. I, and I’m sure others, appreciate the clarification tonight. However, at the very least you should apologize to the community & your P&Z fellow commissioners for the over- reach here.

    The right thing to do is apologize to the P&Z commissioners and the community. You shouldn’t apologize for your views – but the way you wrongly attributed – and cast an unnecessary political cloud over the P&Z.

    For those that want to send a clear message to our elected officials that are served with making such decisions you can express their view by supporting the Coalition for Two Middle Schools in Westport – by signing and sharing the petition below.

    We support our BOE, BOF, RTM and Selectman’s Office who have voted on this matter to move the community forward.

    https://www.change.org/p/board-of-education-continue-to-support-two-middle-schools-in-westport

    Thanks !

  2. Why is Dan Woog publicizing your personal opinion on this issue (as opposed to others)? Presumably it’s because of your P&Z role.

    You and every other resident have had an opportunity to attend and speak at the numerous BOE, BOF, RTM and BOS meetings on this issue from fall 2018 through spring 2019. Many people spoke and presented their viewpoint, and those public comment sessions were the proper forums. Did you attend any of these meetings and/or speak?

    The relevant elected government bodies recommitted to a 2 middle school solution and renovating CMS after exhaustive factfinding and debate. The funds have been appropriated and are being spent as we speak.

  3. Having spent the day speaking to educators and parents, I understand why one middle school is not an option for Westport.

  4. I have followed and commented upon the one Middle School discussion over the past many, many months. My instinct was that one Middle School made much sense and I suggested to BoE members that during the course of the late summer and fall of this year, a careful review be conducted of how the BMS undertaking was working out. All of those who have seen the temporary classroom and related space at BMS have been impressed. I also sense that the busing issue is not a problem and that the overall experience at BMS is working quite well for students, teachers and administrators. I continue to recommend that analysis be continued. We know the advantages of one Middle School, with the most prominent being the resulting parity for all Middle School students. As to Ms. Dobin’s comments, I am especially impressed with her courage. I hope that the issue of one Middle School is not ignored because some may think Ms. Dobin should not have spoken out. We are one Town and Ms. Dobin’s points are sound, as are those who want to preserve a system with two Middle Schools. I think we do a disservice if we do not take advantage of the one Miiddle School experience now occurring as a vehicle to learn and assess.. The present operation of BMS as are only Middle School is actually a fortunate opportunity.

    Don Bergmann

    • I am not certain if you mean busing issue or bussing issue. That said, my daughter leaves our home a full hour before Bedford begins to catch her bus. But thank you for your informed opinion. I only live 9 minutes from Bedford. But our bus arrives 50 minutes prior in order to get the kids there an manage its second route. Maybe someone should speak to the parents before congratulating us all on our triumphs.

      • When BMS and CMS were separate schools, the BMS bus picked up my children 40 minutes before school started. Our home is 1.5 miles from BMS; the drive takes fewer than five minutes. Your complaint about your child’s bus arriving 50 minutes early for a nine-minute drive is not all that different than what some BMS families experienced when the schools were separate.

        Why not revisit the issue, now that there is some experience with having both middle school populations under one roof? For this reason, I feel it would be remiss not to reconsider the decision to rebuild CMS.

        • Correct. (And that is only one among many examples as to how this year is a challenge for many kids, not just mine. Perhaps not Danielle’s. But many.) This hornet’s nest being stirred up around redistricting – and who would like to be able to walk to school based on the road they purchased their home on versus who has to leave in the dark – is driving the sudden balk at the appropriation, led by an improper authority. Surely we can serve each middle school community, not cherry pick the concerns of one over another or suddenly drive a conversation in another direction because we didn’t like the first conversation. It is the complaints made by those who don’t want to be redistricted that are clouding over the discussion from those of us who have already been redistricted.
          Many people worked and engaged through proper channels for a year to achieve an outcome. Part of that decision was about community preservation. This is the opposite of community preservation.

    • Robert Harrington

      Don – I have zero issue with her opinion. She should be free to have them. She makes some interesting points. The issue is not her personal opinions. Rather the issue is the overstep. She may have courage for her personal opinions. I agree she has. However, I am more concerned with the abuse of power and her attempt to misuse the P&Z Commission in this effort.

      Clarifying this alone is not good enough.

      She should say sorry to her fellow Commissioners and the community – or simply step down from the Commission if she cannot
      bring herself to do this simple thing. That would show real courage.

      This was a pure and simple abuse of her office – and this clarification tonight doesn’t change that.

    • Don – I was a vocal parent in the winter and spring, attending nearly all BOE meetings, and many of the BOF and RTM meetings, and spending hours while working listening to the recorded meetings that I could not make in person. I truly believed that *for this year* my two children at BMS (currently 6th and 8th grade) would be fine in an overcrowded middle school, and was absolutely in favor of our district having ONE YEAR with a mega-middle school. I spoke to the BOF about how capable the teachers and administrators are, and how resilient my kids have been – and would be.

      Well, we are into the fifth week of school and I’ve already lost count of how many times my kids have come home in the afternoon and asked me to pull them out to homeschool. Despite an enthusiastic start, and teachers and admins who have gone above and beyond to make the best of this situation, it absolutely cannot be considered a triumphant success. And now – aside from the nightmare of an unbelievably huge school where my middle schoolers are separated from friends not only in classes, but also for lunch – I get to face redistricting for my 3rd grader.

      Like many others, we “moved here for the schools” – what a bunch of BS.

  5. Brooke Petrosino

    The article that Denielle Dobin originally wrote was irresponsible as an elected official as it inferred a P&Z stance as a committee. Her article has created much public concern on a matter that was already vetted and determined by the BOE, RTM, BOF and Selectman’s office voting to remain as a 2 Middle school 6-8 town. “Taking a pause” will jeopardize the work of the CMSBC for reopening CMS on time as a 6-8 Middle school fall of 2020. She used her elected platform as a Vice Chair P&Z member to try to sway public opinion for personal reasons (fear of one of the redistricting options on the table that would affect her child) and made it seem like the rest of the members were in agreement with her “ideas”. She should step down from her role on the P&Z or be “let go” for doing so immediately. Pretty sure there are rules in place for such matters so elected official cannot use their “elected power” to sway public opinion for personal reasons.

    The discussion of redistricting is hard, but needed for both elementary and middle school levels, and we all have a platform through the BOE to have our voices heard appropriately and equally on the matter.

    Clearly, and rightfully so, she has received back lash from many of her peers on the P&Z board and other elected town boards about her decision to post this article as a P&Z concern and why she has now stated the article as her own personal viewpoints. Too late. The damage has been done as a Vice Chair elected official on P&Z committee and the consequences for doing so should follow. This is not how Westport elected officials should act, and as nice as she may be, needs to be set as an example so the Westport public knows they can trust their elected officials to serve their constitutes not themselves personally. Retractions are always less read by the public than the actual article…the damage has been done.

  6. Good work Danielle! The only way ideas have a chance to work or not work is be talked about!

  7. As the father of a Kindergartener at KHS and a preschooler, I’d like to add my two cents. And just because I wasn’t involved in this conversation last year, doesn’t make my opinion any less valid today. We were far removed from this situation until the redistricting of the elementary schools was brought to our attention.
    I am intrigued by the idea of one larger middle school, but I can also see the benefits of the two middle school model. There are various ways that this can play out. CMS can house 6th grade and BMS can house 7th and 8th for example. And if we return to the two school model, then both schools should receive equal resources that are afforded. Are we just putting lipstick on a pig with CMS? If so, sounds like a waste of tax payer money and this will have a long term negative effect on the town.
    My view is that disrupting hundreds of elementary school children and families due to redistricting is harmful and not necessary. The most obvious solution to me is to fix the imbalance by adjusting how the elementary schools feed into the middle schools. For example, how about splitting the largest elementary school into the two middle schools? We can then adjust over time depending on future enrollment across the district. Otherwise, seems like this is a short term fix for a problem that will re-emerge again in the future, and we are compounding the issue by negatively impacting more families than necessary.
    We all have a right to voice our opinion and concerns and while many say that this is a done deal, hundreds of people feel otherwise. That says to me that this conversation needs to continue until we come up with a solution that is fair and equitable for all.
    The character of a community is best demonstrated during periods of distress. We can all agree that we want what’s best for our children and our town. That’s a good starting point. Let’s be thoughtful and prudent and take the time necessary to hear everyone’s concerns and ideas in a respectful way.

    • Sorry you should have paid attention when the discussions were happening. The options were argued exhaustively. Feelings were hurt but a democratic process played out, decisions were made and we have moved on. Danielle should be ashamed of herself for re-opening these wounds – immediate resignation Is her only responsible course of action. CMS is re-opening and Westport is moving back to a two middle school model. Deal with it.
      As redistricting plays out, it too will be publicly and democratically discussed and decided. I suggest anyone with a stake in the game now or in the future pay attention get involved.

      • Thanks for your snarky response. I’m not going to comment on Danielle’s tactics as I don’t know her nor do I fully understand what role she can or should play in her elected position. Clearly it appears that she was out of bounds based on the consensus. And I never said a two school model is the wrong choice. But the redistricting ideas need to be thoroughly vetted. Deal with that.

  8. Thank you, Danielle, for taking the time to share your thoughts in such a clear and detailed manner. I personally don’t know which option is best but do believe that now that we’ve all had time to gather more information, it would be a mistake not to take the opportunity to assess (reassess) the plan, if only to confirm the previous decision, especially since no substantial work has commenced on the existing CMS. Open and transparent dialogue is always a good thing in my book!

    • Michelle Benner

      Michael Jo, You obviously have no idea how much work has been done on CMS already. Please inform yourself. Making such callous remarks is offensive, regarding all of those who have been working countless, tireless, thoughtful hours, days and months on the CMS project. Dialogue has been open and transparent for some time now and continues to be available to the public through all of the usual formats. Apparently you and others have not been paying attention until recently and some have even taken Ms. Dobin’s opinions as fact. Such a shame that Ms. Dobin has mislead so many of the under-informed and unengaged citizens of our town. She has done you and all of us a great disservice. Shame on you, Danielle Dobin.

      • Michelle Benner – thank you for your response and your assumption that anyone that disagrees with your position is uninformed/under-informed and unengaged. I believe your comments conveys all that needs to be said.

        • Michelle Benner

          That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying please inform yourself before making assumptions, which is what you’ve done. We all have a right to our opinions however misinformed, but Publicly mis-stating facts and making false claims hurts us all.

  9. Michelle Benner – thank you for your response and your assumption that anyone that disagrees with your position is uninformed/under-informed and unengaged. I believe your comments convey all that needs to be said.

  10. Robert Harrington

    To K.M Wilson 100% you should express you views and be fully free to express your views. People get involved in public processes at all different times. Our lives are busy and something we don’t get focused until something triggers our attention. Your input and views are fully relevant and respected.

    I strongly don’t think we are putting lipstick on a pig with CMS. The changes in terms of the building at CMS will be dramatic – inside and out.

    It’s unfortunate that redistricting has got caught up in this. At least from a timing point of view. Redistricting is long over due – nothing done for 17 years. I have been critical that our BOE has dragged its heels on this for years. They are right something does now need to be done it’s just unfortunate it’s coming at such on the heels of such a difficult year for our school buildings and given all the upheaval with central office and required change of our prior superintendent. Redistricting is never easy any it’s highly unfortunate that our school system is having to deal with this all at once. I don’t believe walking away from a commitment to two middle schools is the right response to a difficult redistricting. However, it’s critical that we get redistricting right – and as of now none of the proposals put forward meet the educational goals of the Board of Ed. I would like to have seen redistricting occurring 2 years ago. I would like to have seen us staying on top of our school buildings. But none of that happened. We could voice our outrage – but in the end we have to move forward and be constructive. You were making fully constructive points.

    If we can’t find a redistricting solution that meets the board’s goals – then those goals need to be changed (and explained to the community) or we need to effectively over staff CMS when it reopens in the near term (and wait on redistricting until either a calmer period in our schools – and / or a more appropriate plan comes forward that meets the BOE’s goals.

    • Thanks Robert, for your respectful and thoughtful response. I just wish more people would follow your lead instead of attacking people for expressing their views that might differ from others. The mob mentality that occurs behind a keyboard is unsettling but in today’s world, not surprising. I think we agree that we have two issues; one vs two middle schools and then redistricting, and ultimately the best outcome for the first issue is two middle schools. As for redistricting, that needs to be vetted more thoroughly and hopefully we will take the time to make the best decision.

  11. It’s fascinating to watch this dialog unfold about Westport schools because it seems, from the outside, to be the same process of how social media is now able to break the traditional democratic problem-solving process everywhere.

    Not that it was at all perfect, but at least the traditional process of well-meaning open dialog, experts and well-informed, reasoned decisions could be agreed upon and we could all move forward.

    Now it seems that nothing is ever settled because the megaphone of social media allows everything to be re-opened and questioned (particularly by non-experts), whether right or wrong, so nothing ever “appears” to be resolved. – Chris Woods

    • Michelle Benner

      I completely agree. It’s especially stressful and energy consuming to feel like a select few are attempting to derail a thoughtful, hard earned process without taking the time to holistically educate themselves on the topic and context of the conversation.

  12. I am fairly confident that CMS will be renovated by next August and quite confident that the education experience there after renovation will be excellent. However, it is possible that one BMS Middle School could prove better in many respects, though surely there will be issues. To the extent that transportation problems have developed and cannot be solved, that is part of the analysis. My normal approach is to make a check list of the pluses and minuses, assign some weight to each item and then make a decision.
    Don Bergmann

  13. I am fairly confident the renovation work for CMS can be completed by next August. I am very confident the education experience at CMS following the renovation will be excellent. However, it also seems to me that one BMS Middle School may have sufficient benefits to be considered. There are positives and negatives. If the transportation experience to date has posed a problem that cannot be fixed, that is important. My usual approach is to make a list of the pros and cons, try to assign a weighting to each item and then make a decision.

  14. I agree that the middle school kids are “thriving,” if by ‘thriving’ you mean ‘making the best of a bad situation.’ Somehow I think you meant something more…

    Making a claim that the kids are flourishing, or prospering, in an enormous, overcrowded campus, with limited access to extracurriculars and facilities, a more diffuse sense of community, and confusing schedules, would be awfully hard to empirically support at this stage, and possibly not for years. That sort of claim would require research, data, and scholarship; of the sort that the BOE and the WPS administration considered when they resolved last year that they were committed to two middle schools.

    While you’ll get no argument from me about the impact of hasty decisions – particularly redistricting – last year was a crisis, and frankly I thought the decision-making was more…deliberate…than the situation warranted.

    But make no mistake – we are still in a crisis. While the kids will be resilient (mine included – BMS grade 8), I am most concerned about our teachers, and the damage our collective dithering could cause to a marquee town asset – our schools. How long will harried teachers stick around without a firm commitment from the BOE and BOF, supported by concrete actions, that demonstrate our town’s commitment to the highest educational standards? And, not incidentally, a great working environment for our teachers and staff? Teaching science off a cart, rather than in a dedicated classroom, for example, will retain neither our ranking, nor our teachers.

    As for redistricting, it is a numbers game, and entirely dependent on good data, coupled with a bit of psychic population prediction. The models that drive those predictions, in turn, are based on a certain stability. [We don’t know how much, because the models are proprietary and the demographers have been reluctant to share their methodology.] But we couldn’t possibly be in a more unstable situation. We don’t know the impact this crisis is having on enrollment, and might not know for some time. There are over a hundred apartment units coming online on the Post Road, and proposals for more condo development on Richmondville. The demographers discounted the impact of those units to zero – assuming they would all be childless. The impact of deferred maintenance on the other buildings is unknown.

    I’m not anti-redistricting, and yes I will likely be affected (LLS Grade 5). But I am emphatically against redistricting now. We are still in a crisis, and our focus must be on resolving that crisis, not throwing more change into this mess. Let’s see if the CMS work finishes on time, let the apartments come online, and take a closer look at traffic, busing, building maintenance plans, and other impacts before we make a decision that, based on recent history, we might have to live with for the next 20 years.

  15. Not good enough, Danielle. In hindsight, and doubtless after hearing form the Town attorney, the other elected officials you sought to undermine, and your fellow P&Z Commissioners and staff who (I hope) you misrepresented, you may wish you had just written an opinion piece expressing your personal views, but that is not what you wrote or what you obviously intended. Your article included the text below, clearly speaking for the entire “Planning and Zoning Commission.” At minimum, you should admit your fault and apologize for seeking to abuse your position. Your apology would be more convincing, however, if coupled with your resignation as a P&Z Commissioner.

    What you wrote:
    “The Planning & Zoning Commission invites every stakeholder to a special planning session to discuss this important topic on October 22 (7 p.m., Town Hall).

    Public comment from all Westport residents is welcome and encouraged. If you want to leave a written comment, please comment here — in the sunlight where everyone can see — and not on private Facebook groups that have segmented us into elementary school parents, middle school parents and everyone else. (Click “Comments” below — and use full, real names.)

    The P&Z staff will ensure that every comment left on this public forum is included in the public record. Whether you favor a unified middle school, a newly built state-of-the-art CMS or a rehabbed CMS, please voice your thoughts.”

  16. FYI, this is the section from the POCD dealing with Educational Facility Needs: “Education Facilities – Given recent demographic and economic trends, school enrollments in Westport are expected to decrease in the short term. As a result the school system is expected to have adequate classroom capacity for anticipated enrollments through the year 2022. The Board of Education should continue to monitor enrollment projections in the event that demographic and/or economic changes signal a future increase in enrollments.” That’s it.

  17. Michael Guadarrama

    I will not comment on the content, manner, or representation of this post. Many have accomplished this.

    There are clarity and utility from documenting and communicating your decisions. Keeping everyone on base and reiterating the rationale behind critical decisions is a hallmark of capable, engaged leadership.

    Here is an opportunity for the BOE to this. Our community will benefit from a couple of pages articulating the insights, rationale, & recommendations backing the decision to renovate CMS. That document, if produced, could have avoided much of what we experienced over the last few days and likely will encounter over the coming months.

    We saw the BOE invest its time in 70 pages of bylaw changes. Perhaps two pages for a $32M decision is a reasonable request?

  18. To those who cry foul here or demand that Ms. Dobin step down, I ask this: Have you been to a PZC meeting? Have you sat through hours of applications and witnesses and evidence? Well I have. It was not my application but rather the application of another property owner which I opposed. My neighbors and I had to attend numerous PZC before the case was called and before we could voice our concerns. What that process taught me was that Ms. Dobin and her fellow PZ commissioners have to handle and and address and consider and decide every single matter on a crowded agenda. They do this on their time. They are not paid for their service to Westport. The same applies to the ZBA, Board of Finance and Board of Ed. Watch channel 79 one night for a few hours or attend a meeting and ask yourself what it takes for these women and men to serve our town and address Westport’s needs. Would you want to do what they do? Would you want to not be with your family but rather at Town Hall considering whether a new housing development would put Westport residents at risk? Watch a heated PZC meeting when the Westport Fire Marshall talks about what would happen if there was a fire and our firefighters could not get enough hoses or equipment to the blaze and watch how Ms. Dobin and her fellow commisioners handle these types of questions which affect all of us. It will certainly place in perspective just how much these people do for us that many of you do not even know about. So may a member of the PZC have a personal view on an issue which has a connection to the role of the PZC to address the Town’s facility needs? I think so. Demanding that a public servant “step down” for voicing her opinion is a bit harsh under the circumstances. Think long and hard about what it takes to serve this great Town and perhaps you will agree.

    • Jay Walshon MD FACEP

      Andy
      To your questions:
      1. Have I attended meetings: Yes
      2. Are officials entitled to opinions: Yes
      3. Thought about this : Yes
      4. Agree with you:. Absolutely NOT

      One’s willingness and desire to “serve the public” (whatever the many motivations to do so) does not absolve them from strict adherence to policy, procedure, rules, and the codes of ethics that were put into place as deterrence of prejudicial manipulation and other abuses of authority.

      It comes with obligations of transparency, accountability and responsibility that is CRITICAL for public protection, and always stated in perennial campaign rhetoric – but then, sadly, too often ignored and violated once that seat of power is granted by the people – behavior that is enabled because Westport’s leadership seems to hold no one accountable ot responsible for malfeasance and Westport lacks a community “Oversight Commission” that many other Towns have instituted.

      This was just one example, and it is of real concern that it occurs so nonchalantly.

      So yes, a HUGE thank you to ALL those who serve and volunteer countless hours of their life. However play by the rules, don’t take the public trust for granted, and please stop allowing your “power” from going to your head.

      • Thank you for clearly stating the obvious! It is disappointing that the entire collective cannot understand that her actions (not her opinions) were patently wrong and grossly negligent.

        It is highly offensive given what we have asked our kids and our teachers to juggle.

        If anyone in this debate sought counsel from those within the walls at BMS that are making it work day in and day out, they would know emphatically that teachers are resoundingly stressed and unhappy. Are they rising to the occasion? Yes, just like our kids. But, the chaos is real and it is not sustainable or optimal. One mere example is the fact that some teachers do not eat lunch from 9-2pm. That is a fact.

        That is the actual “new information.” The new information is that our teachers are making it work as best they can, even with no lunch, not that 1300 are thriving in a space for 800. Our teachers are passionate enough about OUR kids that they alone are making it work. We should be thankful, and commit to supporting them.

    • Robert Harrington

      Andy Laskin – I stand by what I said. I can’t speak for others. I have attended many meetings and have seen Ms Dobin to be highly effective. She works incredibly hard and has been a good public servant. She volunteers. I am not questioning that. I have zero issue with her having a personal opinion. It’s also not about the side which she comes down on – that’s all part of respectful public debate.

      The one strong thing I have an issue with is how on this matter she has abused the power of her elected position. She tried initially to speak on behalf other commissioners, spoke on behalf of the P&Z – and most worrying tried to misuse an official public meeting for her personal objectives and agenda. She knowingly did this. She doesn’t do things by accident. It’s was intentional. It was political. She knows it and we know it. It was wrong. It’s likely harms the chair of the Commission in his re-election bid and that is wrong.

      She also spoke down to a Facebook group of residents in this official capacity and in original post. This group of residents has over 1000 members in a middle school faceboook page – referring to them as “in the shadows”. She promoted “her” public meeting and her blog article to make public comments under the P&Z name – she even cited P&Z staff in that pair (paid for by us all and not volunteers).

      It’s very simple – she’s been a good public elected representative – but NOT on this overstep of her brief.

      She should apologize.

      That would be enough for me. People make mistakes. I have and have apologized in public to those elected representatives.

      Changing her view to “personal opinion” and doing it’s as a totally separate post after well over 100 people had participated to the original post is not good enough.

      There is a responsibility that comes with being an elected representative. She should NOT apologize for her personal opinion. She SHOULD apologize for misusing her elected power and office.

      If she’s can’t do the right and honorable thing – she should step down.

  19. Michelle Benner

    I would like to add that while yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion and should by no means be condemned for expressing it, I feel, in MY opinion, Danielle intentionally disguised her opinion as fact many times in her original post. In my opinion, she used used her status as a P&Z commissioner to communicate her opinion in a style that reads as fact. Vulnerable people who forgot to put on their critical thinking hats were influenced with what is, in my opinion, incorrect information. In MY opinion, the intentional spread of incorrect information does damage to our community, sets us back, and has poured salt in a wound which was trying it’s best to heal.

    For example, in her original post, Danielle Dobin said this:
    “I want to be clear for those who are only now engaged in this process: When CMS closed, there was no thoughtful discussion — much less a town-wide debate — about what kind of middle school structure would best serve the needs of 21st century education in Westport.”

    In my opinion, this is simply untrue. We engaged in hours upon hours of town wide thoughtful discussion all last year. BOE meetings were packed to the gills, often lasting past midnight. Auditoriums and cafeterias were packed with parents and citizens as additional meetings were called by the superintendent, the BOE and the PTA throughout the year. 100s if not 1000s of people, many of whom don’t even have kids in the school system, gave their thoughtful input at public meetings including meetings held by the BOE BOF, PTA, on this blog, in the news media, and on Facebook. Experts were called in, listened to, questioned. Letters and emails were written, so much so that the chairman of the BOE often joked about how many there were. Danielle knows all of this, and to say “I want to be clear for those who are just engaged with this process” does not make it sound like an opinion, in my opinion, AT ALL. Perhaps we can engage in a more formal town wide debate once this crisis is solved, but as of right now, in my opinion, our middle school population is in crisis and continues to suffer as a result of overcrowding. I strongly feel this temporary mega plan must not be allowed to continue, not even for one more year

    In her original post, Danielle Dobin said this:
    “Timing (“get CMS back as quickly as possible”) was prioritized over thoughtful consideration of all options available to us. The Board of Education did begin a process to explore options, but this was quickly circumvented. As a result, we did not plan for the future. We simply opted to re-create the past.”

    In my opinion, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone who was engaged last year will recall the painful process of looking at multiple options for MONTHS. Mega middle, sixth grade academy, keeping 6th grade in the Els, etc. In fact, just this summer, there was still discussion and debate occurring over how to use CMS – a 6th grade academy or a middle school? This process was not, in my opinion “quickly circumvented”. Again, Danielle does a good job using her P&Z authoritative tone to make it seem like her words are fact.

    In her original post, Danielle Dobin said this:
    “First, let’s recognize that we have time to develop a thoughtful solution. Middle school at Bedford is working well. With the improvements of additional teaching and office spaces, a 9-period day and a merged student population, students are thriving.”

    Let’s unpack this paragraph: Again, in my opinion, more opinion disguised as fact:

    “First, let’s recognize that we have time to develop a thoughtful solution.”
    In my opinion, we don’t have time, for the many reasons many people before me have cited. Cramming our children into one overcrowded middle school for even one more year is a terrible plan and completely irresponsible regarding the quality of education and learning environment for both our kids and teachers, especially when we have at our fingertips an entire school to renovate and use. There is a crisis at the middle school that needs to be solved As Soon As Humanly Possible. When the BOF agreed to fund the renovation of CMS it was clearly understood and expressed by many that all hands were on deck to ensure that every effort is made to reopen CMS by 2020. It was the only way many of us could stomach the idea of a SECOND year of an overcrowded and under functioning middle school. In my opinion, as expressed above and by many people before me as well as the votes by the BOE, BOF, RTM, and the support of our first selectman, renovating and returning to CMS for an 8 school, two middle school, community based system is the thoughtful solution.

    “Middle School is working well”.
    Danielle could have said Middle School is working well for HER kids, or for her kids and many of her friends, but she didn’t. She simply said “Middle School is working well.” For whom, Danielle? Some people who left comments under her original post appear to have actually taken this at face value as fact, no questions asked. As most of us are aware, Adam Rosen and our middle school teachers, admins, staff, traffic, security, police department and Datco have done a tremendous and wonderful job executing a plan in a very short time to better accommodate our middle school students and families this year. My daughter is in 7th grade, my children were in 6th and 8th grade last year. We are a GFS Bedford family, so I have perspective and first hand knowledge of what Bedford was like before the merger, last year, and now. I could not be more proud and more thankful for the amazing work that has been accomplished. I continue to be grateful for and inspired by Adam Rosen’s radiant, positive, can do attitude, his competence as a leader and project manager, his incredible optimism, and for every teacher and staff member who comes to school each day doing their best for our kids. Even with the additional students from CMS 8th grade, Bedford is better than last year, yes, but in my opinion and like may others who have said so before me, absolutely not sustainable and definitely not working well for everyone. For example, every teacher we had the pleasure of meeting with and listening to at back to school night mentioned how one of the first things they need to do when students enter their classroom is to help promote a sense of calm. The crowded hallways create a frenetic energy that is damaging to the learning environment and has to be dealt with continuously throughout the day. Every day. And it’s only day 26.

    “With the improvements of additional teaching and office spaces, a 9-period day and a merged student population, students are thriving.”
    Another opinion disguised as fact. See Mr. Himes’ and many other posts above and in the original comments section for a broader, more realistic perspective of the reality of the current situation at Bedford.

    This is enough from me. I know there will be many who will disagree with my opinions. Some may read the following as snarky, but it’s not meant to be. I mean this in earnest: I just ask in moving forward, if you’re entering this conversation for the first time or getting up to speed, please employ some critical thinking and fact finding before making general statements and claims. Listen to and read what people have said and are saying. Ask questions. Gather info. Watch a few old BOE meetings and read some documents, they’re all (mostly) posted online. One person’s opinion is not enough information to help form your own. Mine certainly isn’t.

    Thank you to everyone who has called out Danielle on her egregious abuse of her public position. I agree a true apology is necessary, and if she can’t perform this simple task, stepping down from the P&Z would be most appropriate. Thank you to everyone who has helped set the record straight and keep things in perspective by sharing their wonderfully articulate experiences, knowledge, expertise and opinions.

    It truly takes a village.

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