Dear Third grade parents,

My name is Moriah Tyrrell and I am the mom of Caroline, in Ms. Ferola’s class. On Monday night I attended the first meeting of the town Task Force that was created to look at the enrollment growth going on in our schools and to come up with a plan to create the spaces our schools need. At this meeting the Thompson School was presented as the school that is in “crisis mode” for next year, as we will be down two full classrooms. This year we will graduate two fifth grades, but are expecting another 4 kindergarten classes to enroll.

Three other parents attend with me, and we were excited to learn that the task force is putting the Thompson School at the top of their agenda. We learned that on January 25th there will be a special Town Meeting in which the Town Meeting members will vote on purchasing the modular classrooms needed for the Stratton School next year for their renovation project. At this meeting, the Task Force also voted to add an Article to the Special Town Meeting that would give approval to the town to also purchase modulars for the Thompson School for the fall of 2016.

Having the town approve funding for these modulars, or another space solution, is important to our school, in particular our third grade classes. If funding is NOT approved for our school next year, the solution will be to condense our current third grade class from four classes down to three (with 27 or more kids/class), and to turn our art room into a classroom. The art teachers would have a storage closet and visit each class with their supplies on a cart.

As a parent, there are many things about this plan that cause me concern, but a few off the top of my head are:

1. With 27/28 kids/class, a teacher cannot spend quality time with each student.

2. This 3rd grade class, in particular, seems to be an extra-active bunch, and one that needs extra space and elbowroom. By consolidating these students, are we creating an environment that is to over-stimulating for many? How will this affect their learning?

3. How will this affect the quality of teachers were have? If they are over stretched with behavior problems and too many students, can they be effective?

4. This year the 5th graders, and a few other grades, have had to double up on gym class. Next year even more classes will have to double up on gym class. And most likely, grade 4 (being one of the older classes) will get chosen to double up. So- now these students are in an over-crowded classroom, and when they have a chance to run, they will be put into an over-crowded gym class.

5. When you take away the art room you take away a chance for the students to get up and walk and to have a change of scenery. You also take away the quality of art instruction that they will receive. I am always so impressed with the projects my kids create, I am sad to think that this program will suffer.

6. If you take away the art room now, does it every get turned back into an art room? Or does it always stay a classroom?

There was a lot of discussion about what types of modulars would be needed, (permanent v. temporary) and if there were other solutions, such as a permanent addition. An addition to the school would be 6 classrooms added at the garden end and would not include an expanded cafeteria or gym. More of these decisions will be made down the road, but for now, it is important to note that money is on the table for our school.

For now, we need more parents to be involved. Our school needs to have a strong voice and presence at these meetings, and really encourage our town meeting members to vote for this funding on January 25th.

We would like to rally as many Thompson parents as we can to help out and get involved. In order to talk about this more, we would like to get together at 7 on Wednesday night, December 16th, before the next Task Force meeting. If you can, please meet us in the Town Hall lobby at this time. If you are unable to make it, but would still like to help out, please contact me by email. You are welcome to just come and 6:30, and not stay for the Task Force meeting, or come to both. Whatever works for you is great.

Please also come to the next two Task Force meetings which are this upcoming Wednesday, Dec 9, and Tuesday Dec 22 at 7pm in the Lyons Room of Town Hall. If you can attend, would you please let me know, or introduce yourself when you get there? If is great if you can just make one meeting, or both, or even part of a meeting.

You can also help out by contacting your local Town Meeting members, and explaining to them why it is so important that our school get this funding for the fall, and by attending the second Task Force meeting which is scheduled for Tuesday Dec 22nd. If you would like more information about how to get involved, please reach out and ask.

Thank you! And please feel free to pass this information on to other Thompson parents and community members.

Moriah Tyrrell