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Windham teachers respond to drop in test scores

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“We’re concerned about much more than test scores, but these latest numbers provide an urgent opportunity to ask some tough questions,” said Randall Prose, a social studies teacher and coach at Windham High School. Prose is also President of the Windham Federation of Teachers, Local 1577.

Letter to the Editor

Submitted by Matt O’Connor, Communications | AFT Connecticut

Teachers in Windham Public Schools are calling the second year of steep declines in the district’s student performance results an “urgent opportunity” to unite the community for a better future.

The education professionals are responding to Tuesday’s release (Aug. 13, 2013) of their high school’s Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) scores and are urging a thoughtful discussion for the community and meaningful collaboration among stakeholders.

“We’re concerned about much more than test scores, but these latest numbers provide an urgent opportunity to ask some tough questions,” said Randall Prose, a social studies teacher and coach at Windham High School. Prose is also President of the Windham Federation of Teachers, Local 1577.

“We’re about to start the third school year of major reform. The time is now to come together and demand answers,” Prose said.

… Continue Reading

Congressman Joe Courtney on looming budget cuts

February 21, 2013 Letters To Editor No Comments
COURTNEY - Congressman Joe Courtney headshot 2012

Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney.

Dear Friend,

Last Friday, with sequestration’s across-the-board, indiscriminate cuts looming and a host of outstanding issues still unaddressed, Speaker Boehner called a vote on whether the House should adjourn and return home for the week.

I voted against adjourning and said, “As precious seconds tick away, the House should be in Washington doing its job and finding a compromise to protect our economy. Speaker Boehner should reverse course, and keep the House in session.”

Sequestration was designed to spur bipartisan action in Congress to address our long-term fiscal outlook. When used in the past, that is precisely what happened. In fact, former-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) said: “It was never the objective of Gramm-Rudman [legislation that used sequestration in 1985] to trigger the sequester; the objective of Gramm-Rudman was to have the threat of the sequester force compromise and action.”

… Continue Reading

Letter of support to reelect State Rep Linda Orange

Linda Orange was elected to the Legislature in November 1996 to represent the 48th Assembly District, which serves Colchester and East Haddam, CT. With the boundaries redrawn every 10 years, it will now include most of Colchester and parts of Lebanon, Mansfield and Windham, CT.

Dear Editor,

Linda Orange has been an integral part of our community. As a resident of East Haddam and President of the Bashan Lake Association, I can attest to the fact that she has devoted countless hours supporting our endeavors.

She was instrumental in arranging meetings, between the town of East Haddam and DEEP, to discuss the concerns with water draw-down in the winter months and issues with damage to lake front properties.

Thanks to Representative Orange, our voices were heard and the DEEP has a greater understanding of draw-downs and why they are needed.

I am also an active member of the Auto Body Association of Connecticut and Linda Orange has been working for all of the consumers of Connecticut by actively supporting an important bill that the Association put before the legislature.

Thanks to the efforts of Linda Orange, we now have a law that states you have the right to repair your car at any auto body shop of your choice, despite what your insurance company might tell you.

For all of her professionalism, timely returned phone calls, driven support for East Haddam residents, and efforts in protecting the consumers of Connecticut through the Auto Body Association, I proudly support Linda Orange in her bid for re-election.

Respectfully Submitted,

William Denya

Posted October 26, 2012

Linda Orange was elected to the Legislature in November 1996 to represent the 48th Assembly District, which served Colchester and East Haddam. With the boundaries redrawn every 10 years, it now includes most of Colchester and parts of Lebanon, Mansfield and Windham.

2012 Redistricting map – section showing areas of Mansfield and Windham that are now part of the 48th House District (orange).

HTNP News welcomes comments on this post.  Letters to the Editor on this and other issues, as well as to express support for a candidate, also can be sent to editor@htnp.com Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions.

The cut-off date for letters concerning candidates for this year’s elections is Friday, Nov. 2 – comments on letters/news stories will be allowed up until Nov. 5, to allow candidates to respond in their defense.

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Letters to the Editor– Fight to keep Windham High Principal Merlino

Windham High School may have to trade its current principal for a state school improvement grant. File photo

Windham High School may have to trade its current principal for a state school improvement grant. File photo

Editor’s note: Windham has applied for a three-year, $2.4 million school improvement state grant that would infuse much needed support into the town’s struggling school system.

This grant would benefit Windham High School, specifically. Such funding is especially important in light of voters rejecting the town’s education budget at two referendums, to date.

However, the grant comes with certain stipulations, including letting the current high school principal go, apparently as a “house cleaning” measure. The grant also allows the town to request a waiver of this requirement if the principal has been in his/her position for less than two years.

The Windham Board of Education is currently waiting to hear from Windham Superintendent Ana Ortiz as to whether she wants to seek the waiver and keep current principal Stephen Merlino… or not. Merlino was WHS assistant principal for eight years before being appointed as principal in fall of 2010. Below are Letters to the Editor concerning this controversy.

To the Editor

For decades, Windham teachers and administrators like Stephen Merlino have valiantly tried to compensate for the ever-deteriorating economic situation of a large number of their students.

Unfortunately, those children who are failing standardized tests are doing so, in part, because their parents, struggling themselves to keep their heads above water, are simply unable to give their children the academic support they so desperately need. On the other hand, those children who have parents who are able to support them in their academic efforts, regardless of race or ethnicity, do very well.

The bottom line is, try as they may, even the best teachers and administrators such as Merlino can never replace a supportive and healthy home life, where the love for books, reading and learning in general is developed years before a child enters a school building.

Windham teachers and administrators need all the help they can get in helping their students in need, and, I’m sure, those teachers and administrators will welcome the state’s help with open arms, but the very LAST thing they need is to be made out to be the scapegoat.

So, on behalf of my two Windham High alumni, Emily and Jessie, I’d like to give all you Windham teachers and administrators, especially Merlino, a great big thank you for a job very well done. And to Superintendent Ana Ortiz, who, apparently has the authority to seek a waiver that would allow Merlino to stay on as principal, I have this simple advice – please exercise that authority. Now more than ever, WHS needs Merlino.

Dave Kohn – Columbia

To the Editor

I write this letter in support of one of our finest civil servants in Windham, Stephen Merlino.

Merlino has been the principal at Windham High School since the beginning of the 2010 academic year. During his short tenure, the high school has improved significantly in a climate of cooperation and renewed commitment to our children.

Merlino has always been fully engaged in our community, working tirelessly with strong and active faith in a better future for Windham. He has earned the respect and admiration of his neighbors and co-workers and it is with a sense of disbelief and dismay that I have learned about the possibility of his departure from the school.

At a time of crisis when we need strong leadership, Merlino, with lifelong roots in our community, is a pillar whose energy, passion and strength this community cannot afford to lose.

He is someone we can proudly call our own. I urge Superintendent Ana Ortiz to request a waiver of the federal grant [requirement to remove the principal] to avoid this irreparable loss to Windham.

In doing so, Ortiz would send a resolute signal to our town that she will fight for us and do what is right for her staff and our children.

Luis Perez – Willimantic

To the Editor

I am absolutely bewildered by an education “improvement” plan that demands the dismissal of an extremely competent and caring high school principal. This is not improvement by any stretch of the mind.

Having been in education for almost 40 years, I worked with many principals.  Some were good, some were adequate, but only rarely is the school treated to exceptional leadership.

What distinguishes real leadership is the ability to inspire the faculty, earn the trust of the students and gain community respect. Here in Windham, two examples of such a principal are the late Don Berkowitz and Steve Merlino.

A real plan to improve education, and we surely need a plan here, is developed thoughtfully and with input from faculty, staff and students. The first step would be for the Windham Board of Education to reverse its decision and reinstate Merlino.

Shirley C. Mustard – Willimantic

To the Editor

I have known Stephen Merlino for more than eight years, first as a former student and now as a professional educator. I am outraged and saddened by the plan to terminate his position as the principal of Windham High School in order to accept the federal SIG money that has been awarded to the school.

Never before have I witnessed such strong leadership, commitment and intelligence that Merlino possesses. As an assistant principal, he poured his heart and soul into making Windham High School, the students, families and the community a better and brighter place.

When administrators have left to seek other positions, Merlino has stayed. When people talk negatively about Windham and its educational future and potential, Merlino has praised the staff and students.

When there has been negative talk about the schools diversity and poverty, Merlino is the one to demonstrate the positives and advantages of having such a wonderful diverse environment. Merlino has been the principal of Windham High School for only one year.

I believe there is a waiver that can be given in this situation that allows a first-year principal to stay in the position and the district can still accept the money. We definitely should pursue this option. It is a complete and utter shame that the district is looking to remove one of the outstanding leaders we have in our school community. It will be an enormous mistake not to keep him with us to help move Windham High School forward at this troubled time.

Molly Desjarlais-Panteleakos – Putnam

Letters originally published in The Chronicle, posted in Windham Today on June 19, 2011 with permission

See related story - “Windham High School principal may lose his job over state grant” Posted June 9, 2011 http://windham.htnp.com/2011/06/09/windham-high-school-principal-may-lose-his-job-over-state-grant/

Have a Letter to the Editor, news item or event you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP) on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Willimantic noise ordinance needs to be enforced

earA year ago, we had a noise ordinance enacted in Willimantic. It started out great with a campaign to inform before enforcement and it seemed like it was working.

Now, a year later, it seems like this ordinance is forgotten. I live in the west end of the city and Sunday, May 7, when I was working around the house, I decided to time the longest I couldn’t hear a bass blaster and the longest I got was seven minutes.

How can one call and complain about something that is mobile?

It is 9 p.m. on a Thursday when I’m typing this and my windows are closed and I can hear them riding down West Avenue with the bass blasting.

The ordinance restricts at 100 feet and I live more then 100 yards from this noise that is a continuous aggravation in this area.

My elderly aunt, unfortunately, lives near the package store by CVS and she tells me it is non-stop music blasting there from patrons going in and out.

I was riding down Main Street to go vote on the budget and there was one blasting away at the stop light with no care in the world.

I voted “yes” for the city budgets because we need to give the police the resources to enforce the law and we expect them to be enforced. I get very upset every time I hear the noise, which causes stress and health issues.

If the law is not being enforced and it affects one’s health, does that leave it open for civil action against the town?

This ordinance was asked for and passed for a reason. Now let’s start enforcing it to show we will not accept this noise in this city. Please stop the noise.

- Rich Taylor, Willimantic

Originally published in the Chronicle, reposted here May 18, 2011

Have a news item or event, or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, like us (HTNP) on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Windham program aimed at reducing HIV asks for your support June 1

needle-exchange-harm_banner_01Dear Friends, Colleagues and Willimantic Residents, Business Owners and Social Service providers:

We are reaching out to you today on behalf of the Windham Harm Reduction Coalition and are looking for your support on Tuesday, June 1 at the Windham Town Council meeting, at 7 p.m., at Town Hall, 979 Main St. (corner of High and Main Streets).

This is not just a form letter, but a genuine request for your help on June 1.

WHRC is at a critical moment, one which will affect the lives of all residents in Windham County.

WHRC’s overall mission is to promote the health and safety of the community we serve through empowering people who are struggling with drug use, as well as commercial sex workers and their families, by offering comprehensive harm reduction services.

For those of you who may be unsure, however, as to the effectiveness of Harm Reduction programs such as ours, here are a few facts courtesy of The Lancet medical journal (1997;349:1797-1800.).

A study of 81 cities around the world compared HIV infection rates among IDUs (intravenous drug users) in cities that had NEPs (Needle Exchange Programs) with cities that did not have NEPs.

In the 52 cities without NEPs, HIV infection rates increased by 5.9 percent per year on average.

In the 29 cities with NEPs, HIV infection rates decreased by 5.8 percent per year.

The study concluded that NEPs appear to lead to lower levels of HIV infection among intravenous drug users.

A written letter of support from Town Council for harm reduction services in Windham County is needed to ensure our eligibility for Department of Public Health Funding in 2011.

Access to state funding at this time is critical to allowing us to offer much needed health services.

Your voice at Town Hall on June 1 will help strengthen and build a healthier community for everyone in Windham County.

Your support could be as simple as a letter stating: “My name is —— . I am a local (resident, teacher, employee/employer, etc.) and I support the work of the Windham Harm Reduction Coalition here in Windham County.”

Thank you so much for your time. A brief RSVP would be much appreciated and would allow us to appropriately prepare for the meeting.

Please forward this information to others you feel have an interest in offering their support.

-        Submitted by Chris Heneghan, Ronni Hyde, Maria Yates and Tim Zimmer – Working Members of the Windham Harm Reduction Coalition

“Take Care, Give Care”

(860) 234-7313

windhamharmreductioncoalition@gmail.com

http://www.harmreduction.org/userdata_display.php?modin=50&uid=959

Posted June 1, 2010

Give Peace (Building) a Chance

Another Family for Peace float at the Willimantic Boom Box Parade, July 4, 2007. File photo © 2009 by Brenda Sullivan.

Another Family for Peace float at the Willimantic Boom Box Parade, July 4, 2007. File photo © by Brenda Sullivan.

To the Editor:

Today, world peace and global sustainability are elusive visions of a future which, as a young person in the 1960s, I thought I’d live to see.

Now I’m a grandmother who wants those expectations to become a reality for my grand­children Georgia, Joseph, Talon and William.

In 1969, when I first heard John Lennon’s song “Give Peace a Chance,” I was an idealistic 23-year-old beginning her 35-year teaching career.

I believed a peaceful world would come about through educating young people to create peaceful solutions as an alternative to war.

Today, 40 years later and retired from teaching, I’m asking us to give peace-building a chance.

As a former history teacher, I know that most of the history I taught revolved around conflicts waged as a result of differences in perception. What if we could build an international perception/conviction that is in everyone’s best interests, one that assures human rights and the sustainability of our planet?

Could this world perception/conviction become a reality?

Yes, it has already begun, spearheaded by the United Nations, whose central purpose is to end the scourge of war for future generations.

Sept. 20-21 has been designated as the United Nation’s International Day of Peace 2009. During that 24-hour period there will be world-peace celebrations telecast from all corners of the globe.

This historic event will utilize http://www.CultureOfPeace.org and http://www.internationaldayofpeace.org/ as interactive vehicles to empower organizations and individuals to participate in the celebration.

Locally, there will be an International Day of Peace Celebration in Willimantic from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20 at the Peace Pole in Heritage Park (next to the ArtSpace apartments  in the old mill buildings on Main Street).

Please get involved and give peace-­building a chance.

Jane E. Schreiber – Mansfield Center – A retired teacher

(reprinted courtesy of The Chronicle)

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In Willimantic, annual Trick or Treat on Main Street

TRICK OR TREAT cropped sign

The family-friendly Haunted House at Arts at the Capitol Theater, the art magnet school at 896 Main St., is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Come in costume and experience the Island of Misfit Toys, color spooky pictures and eat tasty treats.

Windham and Storrs microgrid power projects could get additional funding

electric micro grid image

Microgrids provide electricity to critical facilities and town centers on a 24/7, daily basis. They will also include a system of “trips” and “transfers” to isolate the microgrid and provide power within its network even when there is a large-scale outage.

Get a jump on toy shopping

Over the Rainbow Toys logo 10-30-2013

And between now and Nov. 2, shoppers will receive a 30 percent discount on all in-stock merchandise at the mall location – excluding Lego and Bruder toys.

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