Home‎ > ‎

Who we are

Parents Against Expanded Learning Time (PAELT (pronounced "pelt")) is a group of parents from Pepperell, Townsend and Ashby, MA who feel that Expanded Learning Time (ELT) is wrong for our children and for our communities.  The North Middlesex Regional School District (NMRSD) superintendent, Dr. Maureen Marshall, is considering implementing this program for the Varnum Brook School in Pepperell as as a pilot program before introducing it to all NMRSD schools.  NMRSD has also referred to the program as Extended Learning Time.
ELT is a state program that proposes adding 300 instructional hours to the school year for our children with funding in the amount of $1300/student/year. This breaks down to $3.60/student/hour for the additional time and is far lower than the current per student/hour expenditure of $8.55. 

Many local parents oppose this misguided plan because:
  • The "Extended Learning Time" program is being inadequately funded from the start. While state funding is designed to cover the initial implementation, the tax burden will eventually revert to the towns and local taxpayers to pay.
  • The "enrichment offerings" will be provided mainly by volunteers, not licensed educators. Who will be having daily contact with our children?
  • The "enrichment offerings" curriculum has either not been determined, or is not being shared with parents. Parents have no way of evaluating it at this time, but are being asked to accept it sight-unseen.
  • Parents who have sacrificed careers or who juggle work and home life in order to be home to help with homework and after-school activities would be replaced by strangers.
  • The alternative for parents who do not want their children in ELT is to have them bussed to Townsend. Early signing your child out marks your child as truant.
  • After school activities which build character and which truly enrich children's lives, would in many cases, become impossible.
  • The early start puts eight year-olds on a shared bus with teenagers.
  • The early start cuts into sleep time needed by children between the ages of 8-11.
  • The school system is asking parents to step aside so that it can oversee homework, preventing parents from seeing day-to-day progress or problems, and shutting parents out of the process. Minor issues will become major issues since the parents will no longer be able to monitor progress or advocate for their own children.
  • Children who will be unable to play after-school sports will be at a huge disadvantage when they try out in the higher grades.  
If you agree with these or your own reasons that ELT is wrong for our communities, you must be asking yourself, "What can I do to help stop this?"