To the Editor:

People, it's time to open your eyes.

The New Milford school district has problems a lot bigger than the closing of John Pettibone School.

Graduation rates are down; test scores are down and we are very, very low in our District Reference Group (DRG). This is not because of Common Core. If you look hard, you'll find this problem goes back several years and pre-dates Common Core.

By failing to address these issues, the New Milford Board of Education is failing our children.

Its members seem to have lost their focus and have refused to remedy the larger picture. Worse, they get mired down in the minutiae and cede control of these huge problems to the administration.

They have failed to perform their elected duties. Worst, they have forgotten the administrators work for them, not vice versa.

If you've ever been to a Board of Education meeting or watched one on TV, you know only a few members ask questions or even take an interest. You'll also have observed some of the members are positively clueless.

It’s time to take dramatic steps.

We, the taxpayers and parents, should ask all of the board members to step down and to relinquish their jobs to people who will grab the reins and resolve these system-wide problems.

People who are not just the go-along, get-along types but people who will challenge the administration to do better and who will allow the taxpayers and parents to be heard.

Too often they are shut out because they don’t have the same beliefs.

It’s time to be proactive. Our problems aren't all about spending money and paying teachers.

Most, if not all, of the problems can be fixed by having the right teachers and the right administrators, ones who care about poor test scores.

If you somehow think this is not affecting the education of your child, then your eyes are closed to this reality.

Staff members often say continuity and consistency is what our children need but there are teachers who, for whatever reasons, are out of their school more than they are in it.

This isn't helping our children learn. I can attest to that because it happened this year in my daughter’s classroom.

In addition, my experience in the five years that my daughter has been in school is that teaching stops somewhere around May 1 and there is little to no homework for the remainder of the school year.

More learning time is lost when there are two-hour delays, early dismissals and closings. This lost time is never recaptured.

Because this time isn't made up, it concerns me and it should concern you.

On the finance side, there are angry teachers who claim they don't have enough time to pack their Pettibone classrooms and want to be paid for additional time. Didn't they get enough from the delays, dismissals and closings?

My many discussions with principals and administrators fall on deaf ears.

We give our voices to the members of the Board of Education. We elect them to represent us and our children. They are simply not doing their jobs.

Let’s ask the last three board chairwomen what they have accomplished.

Better yet, just look at the cold, hard facts. Test scores are down and the graduation rate is down while both the teaching staff and budget are up.

It’s time to make drastic changes. We need to elect people to the board who are willing to challenge, to ask the tough questions, to demand accountability and to come to meetings prepared to make a difference.

We have none of that now.

Paula Rodstrom

New Milford