Support the PREDs program & further research about the space issues in Lynnfield schools!

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The following statement was delivered to the Lynnfield School Committee and Superintendent Tremblay at the school committee meeting on January 29th, 2018. Please sign this petition as a show of support for the following two objectives.

1. The reinstatement the PREDs program in the 2018-2019 school year 

2. The creation of a special task force, including community parents, to fully explore the rising population issue in our schools in hopes of creating a proactive and transparent dialogue and action plan.

The overcrowding of our schools is a district wide problem and affects all of our children and families, either now or in the near future. The removal of the PREDs program is just a band aid today, and it may be your child's favorite program, or your extended day program that is eliminated next. We owe it to ourselves and our children to get ahead of this growing issue. Please sign this petition as your show of support!

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Dear Mrs. Tremblay, Mrs. Mauro, and Members of the School Committee

I am here tonight on behalf of a large group of Lynnfield parents and families concerned with the abrupt removal of the preschool extended day, PREDS program. At this point in time you’ve undoubtedly received countless phone calls and emails regarding the issues your decision has caused many, many families. While much of what I’m about to say will be redundant, I am here to formally represent those countless families and concerns to you as a group, and to the general public watching this at home who may not be aware of the depth of this situation.

I will first detail a few of the overarching concerns that the removal of the PREDs program has surfaced. While each is important in its own right, all are symptoms of a much larger problem that we as a community need to start addressing.

First…Please know that PREDS is so much more than an extended day child care program.

Beyond the absolutely vital need for extended day child care to the large (and growing) working parent population of Lynnfield, PREDS is an integral part of the preschool experience for many current and future students. This program embraces our youngest and most vulnerable students, gently welcomes them into the larger school community, and teaches them to love learning from a very early age.


This program is also the full day preparation many young students need before entering the rigorous, full day, Lynnfield Kindergarten program. Extended day programs are vital if we want the most students’ possible ready to succeed in K and beyond.


Second…The removal of the program creates serious implications for children on Individualized Education Programs

Many of the students that utilize PREDS are on IEPs. This program gives them the opportunity to work towards their goals in an unstructured, yet supportive, social setting - a peer-to-peer setting which some experts, including my daughter’s Developmental Pediatrician from Boston Children’s Hospital, conclude in many cases can be more effective in reaching goals than an adult led classroom.


Further, families of children on IEPs have no other option if they need extended day care, as special services are not included at any other preschool. If forced to enroll in another school due to the need for extended day services, these students would undoubtedly regress as is typical during a significant program or environment change.


Third…The timing and communication of this change is unacceptable.

Preschool enrollment for both the public and private school systems runs November through January. Notifying families in mid-January, a time when most preschools are full with waiting lists, has left many families who need full day care struggling for solutions. Even more confusing, these same families received registration forms for PREDS in mid-December, just a few short weeks before getting the cancellation notice.


The space issue at the Summer Street school is well known, and not a recent development. Yet no mention was made during preschool registration that there was even a possibility that the PREDs program might be at risk. In fact, many families were referred to the PREDs program in the fall from the same office that is now communicating its removal. Review of this year’s school committee meeting minutes has not offered any further clarification, as it seems the removal of PREDs was never formally discussed by this group either.


I hope you can understand the confusion, and concern this seemingly quick decision has caused. These actions have created a genuine insecurity in your parent population that future significant changes might be made abruptly without regard to the implications for families.


Finally,…

I hope I have adequately communicated some of the individual issues in a way that each of you can firmly understand. Please know however, that your parent population sees this as just the beginning of a much bigger problem that desperately needs to be addressed.


We know that this is not just a PREDs issue, or a Summer Street School issue….this is a space issue affecting all of our schools due to the growing population of our town that will affect all children, all families, and all teachers. Ultimately, the removal of the PREDs program is just a band aid, and the first of many unfortunate changes that will need to be made to accommodate the growing student body unless we get our arms around it.


Tonight, this is about PREDs, and we do sincerely hope to find a way to reinstate this program for next school year. But tomorrow, and each day after that, the overcrowding of our schools will still be an issue, regardless of how many valuable programs we move around or cut completely.


In closing…

On behalf of the Lynnfield parent community, we respectfully request an open meeting BEFORE your next school committee meeting on February 6th, at a time that accommodates the working families most impacted by this decision, to brainstorm creative solutions to the most timely issues of reinstating PREDs and discuss the communication issues present in the preschool.

Secondly, we request the creation of a special task force, including community parents, to fully explore the rising population issue in our schools in hopes of creating a proactive and transparent dialogue and action plan.

Thank you for your time and willingness to listen tonight. I will be reaching out to all of you tomorrow to pursue these next steps.

Crystal Bates

 



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