Skip to content

Please Vote on Tuesday

I can’t stress enough the importance of your vote next Tuesday, the 15th.  Whatever side you are on, you need to make your views known at the referendum.

It says on the flyers that this referendum is non-binding.  That means the Board of Education can stick with their decision to close the school.  But it also means pressure could be put on the Board of Education to change their vote.

If you agree with the Board of Education that their decision was sound, please don’t stay home because you think it is “non-binding” and won’t make a difference.   It very likely will make a difference.

 

Anger, Opinions and Community

This will be short and sweet (well maybe not so sweet).

It has come to my attention that members of the New Hartford Board of Education have been the subject of verbal attacks and other bad behavior in public by members of this community, because of a difference of opinion.

Whatever your position on the closing of Bakerville School, shouting, name calling, rude comments, and threatening are not polite behavior.  You wouldn’t want to have folks treat you in a similar manner.  I am dismayed that people are acting this way in public sometimes in front of their children.

Members of our boards give up significant personal time to be of service to this community and they vote in a way that reflects the desire to make New Hartford the best it can be.  There is no place for public rudeness toward them.  That kind of behavior tends to stick in people’s minds for a very long time and it breaks the spirit of community.

Whatever the outcome of the vote people will go back to their daily lives and forget about the Board of Ed, or the Board of Finance, and won’t really get out of their way to go to meetings or put themselves up for service.  Evidently they won’t even keep up by reading the minutes of the meetings.  (Do this on a regular basis, folks.  It lessens the big surprises.)  I don’t even like going to meetings, so I can understand that the folks on our boards feel less than appreciated right now.

To the Board of Education:  You folks work very hard, and have always done a great job in making sure that the kids in New Hartford got a great education.  Many of them have been on the board for years.  They’re doing what they think is best now.  I have nothing but respect for them, and so should you.

Disagree if you want.  We all do.  Try to keep your points to actual facts.  If someone doesn’t know a fact that you know, communicate the fact by all means.   Listen to the other person.  Keep it polite.  Too much damage is done by bad behavior.  We all have to live here beyond the vote.

 

Budget Season Is Almost Here

I am gratified at the interest that residents are showing in the budget process this year.  Normally we go through the process with little interest, voter turnout is low and unless there is an occasional surprise, there is very little attention.

I’d like to present some perspective in the numbers that aren’t normally thought about until at some point down the road, folks realize that per pupil spending has doubled and wonder how can that be, when the budgets have only gone up between 1% and 2%, and some have even dropped.

I did a quick calculation of the numbers based on student population with the two budgets that are available on the Superintendent’s website:  http://www.newhtfd.org/domain/4.

Please go to that site and download and review those budgets and prepare yourself for the groups of meetings that are to follow.   We will be voting on those budgets in May and their preparation begins shortly.  The public is always invited to a budget preparation session, so watch for that.

While enrollment in the years from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016 (3 years) has dropped 76 students, per pupil spending in the elementary schools alone has gone up 17%.  Elementary School Comparison

When population is dropping any increase at all can become significant.  The Board of Education and the Finance Board are looking at the same numbers.   The kindergarten class this year is 55 students; 6th grade is 81.  Those 6th graders will move on to Regional 7 next year.

I want to hear better reasons for keeping Bakerville School open than changing the character of the town, or destroying education for our children, or class sizes becoming unreasonable high, or it will only save a few bucks, because none of that is true.

Our town boards and officials are trying to keep our taxes reasonable so that struggling families in town don’t become so strapped by town expenses that they have to move, and they do a really good job.

The Board of Education will meet Tuesday, January 19 Ann Antolini School and is usually at 7:00 pm.    Bakerville School will almost certainly be discussed.   You can keep up with meetings scheduled, any time changes or cancellations and see agenda once posted at http://www.newhtfd.org/domain/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Consolidation

We have today sent our email to Dan Jerram relating our opinion about the Consolidation of the Elementary Schools.  Please take a moment to do the same.

In my experience in town a very many issues are affected by the people who make the most noise.  Whether or not those people are a majority remains unknown if we don’t stand up and make our positions known.

This has a direct effect on every taxpayer in town.  Dan’s email address is djerram@town.new-hartford.ct.us.  He has asked for our opinions and promised to pass them along.  It only takes a moment.

Local Elementary School Enrollment

Slide5Driving the decision to consolidate the elementary schools in town is the enrollment data projection in this slide taken from the Public Information Session Presentation.

It doesn’t seem economically feasible to have classroom and staff coverage for over 800 students  with less than 500.

Based on costs of employment and benefits alone, cutting duplicate staffing for janitorial, cafeteria, office staffing, aide staff and even teaching staff would result in savings of more than $66,000.  Those numbers only cut half positions.  If they are part-time positions now then that makes sense.  If they are full time, why bring them into the consolidated school at all?  Personnel costs are the highest part of all education budgets and and I believe they are mostly out of the control of Selectmen or Boards of Finance.

If Antolini has 26 classrooms and New Hartford Elementary has 11 and we eliminate 3 classroom spaces in each school for art, music and media, that leaves 31 classrooms.  At 500 students (we have only 468 and are projected to keep dropping) that leaves an average of less than 17 students per class.  That’s pretty simple math.  If it’s more complicated, maybe somebody can explain it.

%d bloggers like this: