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Letter: The Open Choice Decision

April 6, 2023
Time to read:

Dear Members of the Beecher Road School Community and Residents of Woodbridge,

Each year the Woodbridge Board of Education (WBOE) votes on whether to accept new students into the Open Choice program.  As you may be aware from recent media reports, a majority of the WBOE voted at our regular January 17 meeting to not accept new students from New Haven into our school community through the program for the 2023-2024 school year.  The reason for this was financial.

For more than a year, leaders from the Woodbridge School District attempted to work quietly and in good faith to secure full reimbursement from the City of New Haven for certain Open Choice student expenses, consistent with state guidelines.  Unfortunately, our efforts failed to yield a response from appropriate New Haven officials.

A recording is available of the Open Choice discussion that took place at the January 17 WBOE meeting (beginning at 44:52 minutes), and we encourage you to listen to it.  What a majority of us concluded following our robust conversation was that—irrespective of our level of support for the Open Choice program—we have a responsibility to the Town of Woodbridge to ensure that our school is fairly compensated for the services we provide.

We have no control over the response to this decision by our neighboring City’s officials.  We were disappointed at their unwillingness to engage in collaborative dialogue to resolve the financial issue.  Regardless, we would like to provide several reassurances to our community:

  1. We are committed to our current Open Choice learners.  Beecher Road School has welcomed young learners through the Open Choice program for nearly 25 years.  They and their families have always been essential members of our community and have been fully entitled to the best we have to offer.  That will not change.  Our current Open Choice learners will remain with us until they graduate from Beecher Road School.
  1. We are committed to celebrating the growing diversity of our school community.  At our February 27 WBOE meeting (beginning at 40:12 minutes), Principal Analisa Sherman shared a detailed portrait of how much more diverse our school has become and how our school community supports and builds upon that diversity every day.  This growing diversity almost entirely reflects the decisions of diverse families, including those of several WBOE members, to make Woodbridge their home.
  1. We are committed to continued conversation with our New Haven neighbors.  We remain open to engaging in respectful discussion of our learning communities’ shared interests and priorities.  Woodbridge is a very special community and, from our perspective, Beecher Road School is the heart of the community.  We will continue to do our best to support Beecher’s educators and administrators to ensure that all of our learners are well prepared for the exciting, diverse world that awaits them.

This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Woodbridge Town News.

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