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Letter: Restore Kool to Be Kind

Published 11:16 am, Friday, May 9, 2014
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Kool to be Kind was an all-volunteer program that gave 120 high-schoolers a chance to mentor 500 third-graders throughout the year, had parent involvement, and the kids absolutely loved it. It cost the school system only $9,000 a year in student transportation, which amounts to about $15 per student involved per year or 0.005 percent of the town school budget. Does engendering kindness get any less costly than that?

The impact the program has had over the past four years on both the high school mentors and the third-graders is overwhelmingly positive. Westport needs this program, especially in the wake of such recent events as Yik-Yak, Milford and Newtown.

Yet the Westport school administration has cancelled the program despite demonstrated, significant public support. School officials believe their social-skills program, using different language and different themes, will be better. But at what cost to the taxpayer and what loss to the students?

The great success of the K2BK program has been the connection between the older students and the third graders, and the fact that students are learning from each other. Yet the administration isn't certain if or how they will incorporate the high-schoolers in their own program. Why eliminate a great program that kids love? Why not do both social skills and K2BK? Westporters should decide what happens here. Both parents and students came out to speak in large numbers at an April 28 meeting, but their messages to the administration went unheard. A sad day for Westport.

Let's ask these questions:

Are we better off when the school administration eliminates the very successful volunteer K2BK program and expands their own social skills program?

What was the problem with the success of an all-volunteer anti-bullying, kindness-oriented program that brings the kids in the community together?

At the very least, why can't the administration's social-skills program and the K2BK program continue to co-exist?

Are there conflicting views of what kindness means?

Should we only have a certain amount of kindness taught, in a certain way, by certain people?

That seems to be the conclusion of the school administration, given their disappointing April 28 decision to cancel K2BK.

Westporters should ask School Superintendent Elliott Landon, the administration and Board of Education members to reconsider their decision.

Ellen van Dorsten

Westport