Don’t Change Cranford Public Schools

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I think it is clear that the majority of parents are not happy with the announcement yesterday that the district wants to restructure the schools, taking away our beloved neighborhood schools and centralizing OAS and HAS. We need to make our voices heard before it is just a done deal and our little village is changed forever. We do have to vote on this, but I am confident that if we show how much this upsets the town, we may not even get to that point. How can someone go through with something knowing that thousands of people will be upset? I plan to present this petition to the superintendent at some point. The fact that it is even on the table is disheartening and we cannot have this hanging over our heads until the meeting on October 30th. I see the bigger picture. We are all grateful we have it so good here, most of us work very hard to have it, and chose our homes based on the feelings we had and how we imagined raising our families. I truly believe the fabric of this town, a large part of what makes it great, is based on the fact that our families and schools are so close knit. I think we all know the benefits this has on families and in today’s world we are the lucky ones. There are so many things that worry us as parents, and we all know how important the role of community is when it comes to preventing these worries. And our community is great. We cherish our town, the small town feel. We love that we live in a place that is often nicknamed Mayberry, so why does it feel like everytime we turn around someone is trying to change it?  Parents drop off and pick up their children at school. They wave to the teachers. They bring the crossing guard coffee on cold days. Kids start walking with their friends and riding their bikes when they get to 3rd grade and their parents are thankful they bought that house right by the school. The independence is priceless and allows children to be involved in after school clubs and activities, because they can simply walk home with neighbors afterwards and parents feel at ease. I see the principal at my children’s schools often and I know the SRO. This is a wonderful thing. It is rare thing and we have it. To disrupt this would change everything. Next thing you know the PTAs fall apart, parent involvement goes down because popping in for that hour may not be feasible when you have to cut all the way across town, wonderful young couples house hunting are turned off by not having neighborhood schools and the market goes down. People may decide to move even. The idea of kids having to go to school in a completely different neighborhood when all they have ever known is a school down the street which they have made a connection to is against everything we planned. We all live here for a reason. We like it. Love it actually. We love chatting on the playground after school and the playdates that pop up from that. The lifelong friendships that will inevitably evolve. We love that none of the schools seem big and the events that become traditions at school are special because the families all know each other. What will happen when we are all running all over town? Stressed and rushed. A bus!?!? I wouldn’t be able to pick my kid’s teachers out of a crowd, or get to know their friend’s parents if they took a bus and I certainly wouldn’t pay for subscription bussing when that ranges from $500-800 per child. I don’t like it. It is good to have parents or grandparents or family present at drop off and pick up. It is good to have a rapport with the teachers and faculty because you see them everyday. They have our children for 8 hours. I prefer to feel connected to the school. What about the fact that all of the activities before and after school work out because the OAS and HAS kids can just walk home. That independence is priceless. Right time at the right age. Parents who work are happy their kids can do any after school club and just walk home. Are there going to 80 kids trying out for sports, band, the play? How is that fair? How will that impact kids at an age when they need to be involved and have a sense of belonging. Do people not see all of the wonderful benefits of how things already are? There has got to be a better solution if the issue is full day kindergarten. Our schools and town consistently top lists for a reason. As a matter of fact the local towns surrounding us such as Berkeley Heights and Westfield have similar set ups and also do not offer full day kindergarten yet. So we must be doing something right. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.