To the Editor:
I write to you today with distressing news. The Greenwich School District has informed us that, after this school year, they will no longer provide transportation for Greenwich students who attend Eagle Hill School.
This change will negatively impact Greenwich residents – students and their families – attending Eagle Hill for its personalized educational program and highly skilled faculty. Greenwich has provided transportation for our students for decades and this decision coming in June is a shock to our families who depend on it.
Eagle Hill is a Connecticut State approved private special education school that educates students with a variety of language-based learning differences, including dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and ADHD. Our school serves students ages five through 15 from Fairfield and Westchester counties. Our goal is to provide these students with remediation and the academic tools needed to transition back into mainstream school settings. Many of our students graduate from Eagle Hill and continue on to be successful in the Greenwich School District.
I recently met with Superintendent of Schools, Ralph Mayo, and Chief Operating Officer, Lorianne O’Connell. They explained that the transportation cut was due to an effort to control spending. They referred to a “ratio” in an old state statute which says a majority of the students in a non-public school must be Connecticut residents in order to get transported by the school district. Just over 47% of our students are Connecticut residents so we miss this ratio by less than 3%. For all the years that Greenwich transported our students, we never quite met this ratio, yet our students were provided with transportation.
As a Head of School, and a former Superintendent of Schools in a public-school district, I am familiar with and sympathetic to making tough financial decisions, however, I always made those decisions with heart when the situation called for it. I believe that this is just such a situation. I also question how much the district is saving by not allowing our students to travel on buses that take children to other private schools in Greenwich? Many other school districts do transport students to our school, understanding the importance of the work we do with students who have complex learning challenges.
We encourage our parents, alumni families and friends who know of the important work that goes on each and every day at Eagle Hill on behalf of our students, to contact the Superintendent of Schools and Board members to encourage them to revisit this decision.
We hope the Greenwich School Board will reconsider this decision that will so negatively impact our Greenwich families and their children.
Dr. Marjorie E. Castro is the Head of School at Eagle Hill School.