Letter: Reconsider Canceling Bus Service
Offering Transportation for Greenwich students who attend Eagle Hill is Good for Everyone.
To the Editor:
I write as a Greenwich resident and taxpayer, one of several on the Eagle Hill School Board of Trustees, to urge the Greenwich Public School District to reconsider canceling busing service for Eagle Hill School families.
Notifying our school community of this decision in June, after a significant number of Greenwich families decided to enroll and re-enroll in Eagle Hill assuming that buses would be available for the 2019-2020 school year, seems abrupt and unfair. Not only do we object to the decision, but also to the process.
Eagle Hill School is a hidden gem in the Greenwich community, a community that values diversity and respect for all individuals. We are a state-approved special education school whose children require highly specialized educational instruction due to language-based learning differences. Our families do not aspire to attend Eagle Hill School, they need to.
Our families choose Eagle Hill School because their children could not access the education they need in a mainstream school environment. Having a child with special needs is an enormous strain on our families, not to mention a staggering financial burden. Our parents pay the hefty tuition for an individualized education, often in addition to the cost of multiple therapies and testing.
As a school, we are good neighbors and participants in the Greenwich community. We offer an annual speaker series free of charge to anyone who would like to attend. We teach our students to be role models of civic responsibility with several community outreach programs. For example, many students volunteer to help at Neighbor to Neighbor, serve dinner at a local soup kitchen, or visit with Alzheimer’s patients each month through our “Sweet Readers” program.
The presence of private schools enhances the community’s property values and directly contributes to the bottom line of the Greenwich Public Schools budget. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, per pupil spending for fiscal year 2017 in the state of Connecticut was $19,322. Factoring in capital expenditures and operational costs, we can safely round that up to $20,000+ per student. In fact, the per pupil spending for an Eagle Hill child in the Greenwich school system would be much higher because that child would require special services from the public school.
By choosing to send their children to Eagle Hill School rather than stay in the public-school system, our Greenwich families are effectively saving the town taxpayers approximately $1 million annually. Greenwich administrators were unable to quantify the savings rendered by this specific decision on busing, but given these buses are shared with the other private schools in town, we assume it is negligible.
Taking away the bus service creates an enormous burden for our families. It also will create an enormous burden on the town in terms of traffic with an additional 50 cars navigating an already congested area of town on and around Glenville Road. Increased safety concerns for local residents may require additional traffic management resources. The environmental impact alone would be significant.
In the spirit of shared values as educators and parents, please reconsider this decision.
Patty Murphy is the Chair of Eagle Hill School’s Board of Trustees.