Brian DiGiovanni

May 122014
 

Dear Editor,

Advocates Promoting Educational Excellence (APEX) endorses Jeff Kubick for Groton/Dunstable School Committee. After years of reductions to the schools, the Groton/Dunstable School District again faced many additional challenges this year with regard to budgetary oversight and funding needs. While steps have been taken to improve the budget process, a great deal of work still needs to be done to bring back many of the cut programs and faculty.

Holding many volunteer positions in Groton, Jeff has shown a true commitment to the community and its schools. Whether it is supporting the Union Congregational Church, coaching youth soccer or helping to increase the number of voters at the polls, Jeff has demonstrated a high level of dedication to the town of Groton.

With three young children in the district, Jeff also understands the important link between high-performing schools and a thriving municipality. He has already worked hard to prevent large-scale reductions to the schools for the upcoming fiscal year. We have no doubt that he will continue to work tirelessly to now begin to rebuild the district and achieve the best for all of the children in the Groton/Dunstable schools.

APEX wholeheartedly supports Jeff Kubick’s candidacy for School Committee. We hope everyone will get out and vote for him on May 20th.

Sincerely,
Amy Kelly
Brian DiGiovanni
Wendy Kelly
Judy Schuster
Chris Furman

representing APEX (Advocates Promoting Educational Excellence)


Apr 232014
 

Dear Editor,

What a great voter turnout we had in Groton for the Special Town Election on April 1st! It was wonderful to see so many residents support our town and school district by voting in favor of the debt exclusion on the new firehouse. However, there is still a remaining step for the Town of Groton to ensure that no further reductions are made to municipal services or to the school budget. It is crucial that we all attend the Annual Town Meeting on Monday, April 28th and vote to pass the FY15 Annual Operating Budget for Groton.

While we recognize the difficulty for many individuals to attend a late-night meeting, especially one scheduled on the first school night after April vacation week, we urge as many people as possible to attend. For residents who need child-care, baby-sitting services will be provided by Advocates Promoting Educational Excellence (APEX) in the Florence Roche Gym from 7 — 9 p.m. for children ages 2 and up. It will be offered on a first-come first-serve basis. The volunteer baby sitters will be relieved at 9 p.m. as this is a school night for most of these students.

We hope everyone will attend the Town Meeting and demonstrate another resounding show of support for our town and schools. Let us all continue to work together to make our town and schools great.

Sincerely,

Amy Kelly & Brian DiGiovanni
Co-Chairs, APEX (Advocates Promoting Educational Excellence)


Jan 222014
 

Like many of you, I’m troubled by the budget deficit crisis that our school district faces. I’m also troubled by the magnitude of the issue and by the (thus far) underwhelming level of involvement of concerned parents. This letter is a reworked version of a “Talk About Groton” post I made recently over the lack of talk on an issue as big as this one.

I know the school committee is tasked with helping us through this crisis, but it seems to me that more people need to come forward to express thought and be heard. I’m not talking about pitchforks and torches, merely thoughtful opinion and support. And to be clear, I am not roasting anyone, merely trying to raise awareness: I think the School Committee is in an unenviable position, and I respect the work that they have done thus far to start us down the road.

I’m a parent of three kids who will be in this school system for the next 13 years or so, and even after that, I will be a staunch supporter of the schools. Significant cuts to teachers, support staff, the arts, sports, and more will devastate this school district. Here’s a quick list off the top of my head of issues we’d face (knowing that there are more issues that I haven’t thought of):

  • Increased class size – Fewer teachers means more kids per class, which means less support for kids who need it, many of whom will likely be “general ed. kids,” though kids needing special ed. will certainly be affected. Fewer kids will “get it.” Will increased class size further decrease enrollment as some families seek private or charter schools? I’m guessing there are studies out there on class size and school district performance.
  • Fewer aides – kids who really need help will possibly lose their aides
  • Sp. Ed. cuts – more out of district placements as a result, thereby increasing cost to the district.
  • Fewer teachers – see above. We’d also see effects on student and staff morale. Teachers are what make this district go, and I’d hate to think that any teacher my kids have had thus far might be laid off, especially considering the tremendously positive effect they have had on my kids. Teachers also do all the little things no one else does; who will pick up that slack?
  • Elimination of arts – an excellent analysis of a series of studies 10 years ago or so reviewed the effect of the arts on school performance. Reading, writing, math, critical thinking, social skills and a positive school environment (just LOOK at the schools with student art posted, feel the ambience at a school concert) are all better when arts are part of the curriculum, and the more years of the arts that kids have, the better their SAT scores. See the “Critical Links” articles scattered all over the Web. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that elimination of such might dent our kids’ development, and may well affect college acceptances.
  • Elimination of sports/activities – see #5. Exercise and activities create a positive school environment and undeniable health benefits – physical and mental – that make each child healthier, thereby increasing the health of the whole. I’m sure no official study has been done on the effects of cutting a kid’s team, but I’d bet the study hasn’t been done because we don’t need one to know the answer. With the burgeoning physical and mental health issues that our kids face, taking away what keeps their minds and bodies healthy doesn’t seem like a great idea.
  • Real estate values – A school district on a downturn will surely discourage new families from moving in, and should the issues be severe or pervasive enough, real estate values would have to take a hit.

I am not a politician, nor am I an expert on anything in the town, honestly; I just live here. I’m a pediatrician, though, and I do know children and child development. I have serious concerns about the possible irrevocable effects on our kids that cuts would create. Kids learn better when they’re young because that’s how their brains work. We need to enrich them while they are young, and these cuts, though temporary, would still likely be 2 or 3 years out of our children’s already-short childhood. That’s too much time.

We need other solutions other than cuts. Please help support the school committee, our schools, and our children. Please come to the meetings. I am, if only to educate myself on how this whole thing works. I’m late to the party, but I’m here.

Sorry for the polemic.

Brian F. DiGiovanni, MD FAAP