School Committee holds public input session tonight!

From 6-8 p.m. tonight at C.R.L.S., the School Committee will hold a public input session, looking for ideas, suggestions, and comments from the community as we prepare a budget for the 2009-2010 school year.

The Interim Superintendent, Dr. Carolyn Turk, and the budget co-chairs, Luc Schuster and Nancy Tauber, sent out a letter to CPS families last week. Here is the text of the letter:

“Dear CPS Families,

As you know, our community prides itself on the value we place on our public education system. We strive to ensure our children have everything they need to succeed in the classroom, in the art studio, and out on the ball field.

In recent years, we’ve seen enrollment, student achievement, graduation rates and college placement numbers rise, and your input and ideas are a part of our success.

To that end, we encourage you – as important stakeholders in this process – to attend our upcoming “public input session” on the budget, scheduled for 6 p.m. on January 27 in the Henrietta Attles meeting room at CRLS. We also ask that you share any ideas you might have in helping us navigate through these tough financial times. Please email us at info@cpsd.us with your suggestions and comments.

We in Cambridge are not immune to the economic turmoil that has engulfed our state, our country, and our world. As budget season begins, the School Committee, the CPS leadership team, and the school principals are working collaboratively to resolve our own budgetary issues.

We are faced with a projected budget shortfall of several million dollars for the 2009-2010 School Year. This shortfall presents many challenges for us and may ultimately help us redefine our educational system as a whole. As serious as this budget issue is, we do not see it as something that will diminish the educational value of the Cambridge Public Schools, but rather as an opportunity to do some things better than we have in the past, to strengthen those programs that work well and eliminate those programs or practices that have outlived their usefulness.

Please know that our team – school committee members, administrators, and principals – are now conducting a systematic program review of all operations. Please understand that we are working diligently to protect the educational integrity of the classroom and that we are doing our best to make decisions based on the educational value and not necessarily the financial value of our programs.

We are committed to conducting this systematic program review with three guiding principles: Transparency, thoughtfulness, and inclusiveness.

Despite these difficult economic times, it is important that you know that the closing of schools is not under consideration. We remain committed to high quality teaching, to our Special Education initiatives, to improving our middle grades program, and adding to our high school’s success stories. We hope you will join us in this journey.”

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