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Superintendent Responds to Mohegan School Recess Debate

Superintendent of public schools Freeman Burr said a meeting will be held to "get the issue resolved on common ground."

After parents spoke out against the changes to recess at Mohegan School, superintendent Freeman Burr said he is concerned about the split it has created amongst the parent community and that a meeting will be held to "get the issue resolved on common ground."

Q: How was the decision to cut recess at Mohegan made?

A: Central office does not get involved in scheduling. All scheduling is done on the school site by their administration. PTA representatives said there was a meeting held on the topic to discuss it. That’s what I’ve been told by 2 members of the PTA executive board at Mohegan. I don’t know if there are people who didn’t go to the meeting and didn’t agree with what went on but my understanding is that it was on agenda, and it was addressed and discussed. The decision was ultimately made by [Principal Anne] Hamilton along with consultation with some of her staff members.

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Q: Why is this policy only for Mohegan School and not the other public elementary schools?

A: Each school creates their own shedule. I'll assume that at some point Mrs. Hamilton and the staff felt reducing recess was no longer an issue and intended to focus on teaching and learning.

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Q: Is this something the other elementary schools could implement?

A: I’ve heard the rumor that we allowed Mohegan to do it because we are going to make it district-wide—I think that’s an irresponsible rumor. The intent of changing the schedule was designed to address problems they felt needed it. Clearly the solution has not been embraced by parents. The goal will be to make sure there is a schedule in place that addresses the concerns that this schedule was supposed to address, but also take input from parents who’ve expressed their own concerns.

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Q: What actions is the staff taking to resolve the conflict?

A: There will be a meeting held with representative constituents from both sides of the issue. At the last BOE meeting, two people were upset about recess, one in spoke in favor of the current status. I have gotten multiple calls, e-mails and I met with a few parents on both sides of the issue. Assistant superintendent Lorraine Rossner and principal Hamilton will be present. We’ll sit down and we will get the issue resolved on common ground to satisfy parents on both sides. The end goal is to continue to maintain the benefits we’ve realized in the schedule for increased academic time.

Jeff December 11, 2012 at 12:33 PM
It's safe to say the schedule change was not something most parents knew about. 90+% of parents don't attend PTO meetings and until the generational mindset catches up with existing technologies that 90+% won't have an uploaded audio file of the recorded meeting to listen to on their iPhone. That said I believe based on the Patch story from a week or so ago, the vast majority of people believe recess is an important part of a child's day, or should be. Many things need to be thoughtfully considered whenever this meeting occurs.....
Jeff December 11, 2012 at 12:41 PM
1. Mrs. Hamilton should reiterate her reasons for making the schedule change. With consideration that it was additional art and music sessions added, she should give reason why it was art and music added and not math or science or social studies/history. 2. Those proponents of returning recess need to lay out their issues and reasons for returning it to the regular day however those reasons are more recently pronounced. 3. If compromise is an option both parties need to definitively know what the give and take are. For instance, if recess is returned some would not want reading or grammatical studies sacrificed or what to me are an already limited amount of math and science. If the schedule is reversed the sacrifice should first come from what has replaced recess namely art and music.
Jeff December 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM
From a personal standpoint I believe physical activity and the mental break of recess are a very important part of a child's life and school day. Consider that the school day is already a half hour longer than when most parents went to school and when recess was a given part of the day. However, because we are constantly inundated with reports of the growing childhood obesity issue in this country but more so how this country is falling behind the world in math and science I am not willing to sacrifice the already limited amount of math and science that I feel is being taught just for recess. As a conscientious parent who understands the importance of physical activity, I will see to it that my child runs and plays at home and/or plays sports. Remember, the news it not reporting the US is falling behind in art and music!
Peggy Camp December 11, 2012 at 10:11 PM
As far as the PTO having this topic on their agenda and discussing it at a meeting, how would parents thoughts and concerns on this matter be able to be heard? Agendas are not posted. If parents concerns were wanted then maybe one of those many all calls or blast emails that parents receive should have been sent. A meeting is a great ideabut I have to wonder if all parents will be informed as to when it will be and if all will be welcome to attend.

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