To the Editor of

This letter is written in response Paul Mordecai Rosenberg recent comments on the proposed zero-percent education budget increase.

In Litchfield, we need to aspire to dialogue that addresses issues civilly and avoid personal attacks that serve only to obfuscate.  

It is critical that we, as a community, understand that the Board of Education members are volunteers. It is not a paid position - these volunteers dedicate themselves to an important, and often, thankless job. Matt Terzian did not "weasel" himself onto the board. He was elected to serve our community and is invested because he has children in the system. He should not be ridiculed for it. Saying that he has a self-serving agenda and is on the board simply for the benefit of his own children is logically flawed. By that reasoning, he cannot hold an opinion that would further the interest of any of the children who would benefit from his vote if his own children also benefit.  By that logic, the selectman should not live in the town because he might personally benefit from creating a positive environment.  

Mr. Terzian is not the only parent with children in Litchfield schools on the Board. Mr. Rosenberg's opinion seemingly is a response to Mr. Terzian stating that he wouldn't support elimination of educational programs. The real issue has nothing to do with if Mr. Terzian has children in Litchfield schools, the real issue is why do we need a zero-percent increase?  Is that truly the best thing for our community and if so, why?  Is that what the majority believe and again why?  These are things that should be discussed with facts, logical reasoning - civil discourse. Yes, there is a decrease in enrollment but could we counter this but making our schools better?

Further, the assumption that Litchfield taxpayers would be "celebrating" the school zero-budget increase is broad and sweeping and, for many, an incorrect statement. The majority of us with children in the schools do not want programs or staff cut even if it means a budget increase.  Historically, there is an annual budget increase averaging about two percent. We need to look at why we need to cut programs that benefit out children carefully before we assume that a zero-percent increase is best tact to take.  We need to collectively determine if there are other options before settling on the zero-percent increase which translates to staff reductions (5.4 teaching positions, .5 custodian positions and 2 teaching assistant positions) and elimination of programs (summer reading and math programs and LIS Spanish program etc.).  

Even for those that do not have children directly impacted by the zero percent increase, there are indirect impacts that must be considered.  Real estate values are affected by the quality of our school system.  That pertains to everyone who own homes/property.

There is a meeting on Monday at Center School to further discuss the issues.  

Caroline Wilcox Ugurlu