Perhaps we should give some credit to the Academy BOT and Sandra Fredrickson for ‘letting’ Ernie resign. Could this be the first step in reconciliation between the BOT and BOE? Citizen Cain’s comment under “More Subterfuge…”
Tomorrow the Villager will publish an anonymous Sound-Off article by a purported Brooklyn father vigorously attacking the new Brooklyn high school proposal that is up for referendum on October 10th. On that day residents of Brooklyn, Scotland, Chaplin & Hampton will vote on this referendum in their respective towns. All four towns will have to vote YES (by majority) to approve the proposal of a new high school for the project to move forward. A second letter to the editor by a non-anonymous author from Brooklyn against the new high school will also be published in this same issue.
The author was clearly targeting Brooklyn residents at the expense of residents from Scotland, Chaplin, and Hampton. Yet in Brooklyn, the YES vote may be stronger than in these other three towns. This strategy to undermine the high school initiative in Brooklyn may actually backfire if enough residents from Scotland, Chaplin, and Hampton read the Killingly Villager. This is because the authorâ€™s arguments against the high school for Brooklyn residents may be viewed by the residents of the other three towns as a strong argument for voting YES in favor of the new high school. It has been my understanding that the larger risk for approval is in one of these other three towns.
In reading this very long, detailed anonymous Sound-Off, I could not shed the feeling that I was reading the Academyâ€™s own words and position on the new high school and its referendum. This Sound-Off almost certainly breaks the record for the size of anonymous Sound-Offs. This article re-states 10 questions that were supposedly asked in a Sept. 18 public meeting in Brooklyn (this lengthy dialogue must have been recorded), then it purports to provide the answer given by the town official, and then the authorâ€™s longer pro-Academy rebuttal is given to each answer in this Sound-Off.
One could make the argument that Brooklyn and perhaps Canterbury students are dragging down the performance numbers for the Academy. But then this would be the same argument that the anonymous author is making. The main thrust of the author is to scare Brooklynites into believing that The Parish Hill schoolâ€™s 37 high schoolers and supposedly â€˜under-qualifiedâ€™ teachers will drag down the performance of the new Brooklyn high school. One might turn this argument around and state that the Parish Hill students will be dragged up to performance at a higher level in the new school. In fact, this is part of the authorâ€™s argument also. That theoretically, Brooklyn high schoolers are dragged up by their association with the Academy compared to academic performance of the new Brooklyn high school which is yet to be established.
One glaring omission of the anonymous author is the fact that Mary Lou Bargnesi, the former headmaster of Norwich Free Academy, will assist in creating an â€œoutstanding educational program.â€? During her tenure at NFA, Ms. Bargnesi helped raise NFAâ€™s endowment by approximately $40 million (to >$50 million). The Academy leadership pales in comparison to Ms. Bargnesiâ€™s effort with their $1+ million endowment.
Bargnesi stated in the front page article in the Killingly Villager (Sept. 21, 2007) that the construction of the new Brooklyn high school would receive 83-85% reimbursement from the state. She said â€œIf there was ever a time to do it, the time is now… There arenâ€™t many times you get the opportunity to create a new high school.â€? Ms. Bargnesi emphasized the many levels of control that Brooklyn residents would have both economically and academically. Ms. Bargnesiâ€™s comments in the Killingly article took up a major portion of the article, but the author did not bother to mention any aspect of Ms. Bargnesiâ€™s strong endorsement of the new school.
Another almost amusing part of the authorâ€™s argument was that the new Brooklyn high school will not have football â€œbecause it costs too much.â€? His answer was â€œSo much for that scholarship!â€? Was he planning on his daughter getting a football scholarship? Or was he talking about academic scholarship? I wonder how many football scholarships will be handed out to Academy football players this year and in future years â€¦ probably very few.
Another complaint of the anonymous author was that attendence at the new high school would hurt the chances of getting into college. Woodstock Academy was ranked 108th out of 179 high schools for private college enrollment with 25% of its seniors enrolling in private colleges. When WA was ranked by total college enrollment, only 10 out of the 108 high schools ranked above WA scored a lower percentage of total college enrollment, and 16 of the 59 high schools ranking below WA in terms of private college enrollment still scored above WA in total college enrollment. Thus, if the list of high schools was ordered by total college enrollment, WA would have ranked 114th in the state with a percentage of 74% graduating seniors enrolling in college. According to the ranking based on private college attendance, Putnam HS was ranked 109th just behind the Academy (the source of the data).
However, the author quotes the Academyâ€™s own inflated numbers and states that 80-85% of its seniors go on to college.
With regard to meeting goal (No Child Left Behind Law) Woodstock Academy was ranked 60/61 out of 178 (tied with North Haven) with 57.2% of its students meeting goal. A multitude of inner city high schools crowd the bottom half. If one looks at other northeastern high schools that could be compared with the Academy studentsâ€™ performance, one finds the following (see source ):
Tolland HS 31st with 66.9% students meeting goal
Bolton HS 38th with 65.3% students meeting goal
E.O. Smith (Storrs) 42nd with 63.9% students meeting goal
Stafford HS 58th with 58.6% students meeting goal
Woodstock Academy 60/61 with 57.2% students meeting goal
Coventry HS 79th with 50.4% students meeting goal
Tourtellotte HS 98th with 43.8% students meeting goal
Ellis Tech 126th with 32.6% students meeting goal
Killingly HS 128th with 31% students meeting goal
Putnam HS 129th with 30.9% students meeting goal
It will be interesting to see whether this anonymous author’s long-winded speech swayed the residents of Scotland, Chaplin, and Hampton to vote in favor of the new high school.
Approved by John Leavitt, Candidate for Board of Education of Woodstock, CT. This statement will be treated as an in-kind contribution for purposes of meeting requirements of Connecticut campaign finance laws. This article is paid for by John and Becki Leavitt, 515 Route 197, Woodstock, CT 06281 as administrators of www.woodstockctcafe.com.