BOARD OF FINANCE **SPECIAL MEETING** - POSSIBLE SCHOOL CLOSURE When: Wednesday 10/17/12 7:30. For any finance people, the 7:30 joint session is preceded at 7:00 by the joint finance meeting.

Where: Fairfield Hills campus building, 3 Primrose St.  

When: Wednesday 10/17/12 7:30.  For any finance people, the 7:30 joint session is preceded at 7:00 by the joint finance meeting.

From what I understand, at tomorrow's meeting, the Board of Selectman will be putting pressure on the BOE to move the process of closing a school along more hastily than the BOE reported two weeks ago.

The agenda has the following item:

A Discussion with the Board of Selectman, Board of Education and Board of Finance on the 2013-2014 Budget cycle.

We believe this meeting is in response to 4 issues that have been raised by Newtown Elected Officials and their impact on the budget:

1. The desire by many in Town Government to start the process to close an elementary school 

2. The question of whether or not the Hawley HVAC project (3 Failing Boilers, "Air Quality Issues", Contaminants ) should be undertaken (at least one LC member is questioning this publicly)

3. Full Day Kindergarten

4. Pressure to keep the overall budget to 0% increase

School closures-  I would focus on the risks of closing a school, and if it comes to a point at which a closure makes sense, then the choice  of schools should be made with maintaining quality education and providing the best educational environment as driving forces.  (Focusing on how people love HOM won't appeal, since all the board members' kids went to other schools and those schools are loved, too).   
My concern is that when budget time comes, the Board of Finance or  Legislative Council will make a cut so severe, that a school closure will be forced.  I was told this, last year, by a LC member in a private conversation.  The school closure will be intertwined with the budget.

Budget- Last year the budget vote failed 4 times and parent involvement and voting was low, so I feel that it would be helpful for as many people as possible to state publicly at the meeting on Wednesday, that there will be a strong effort to get the budget passed this year, on the first try…  If the proposed budget supports the students and without programs lost or denigrated. I personally feel that the first budget brought to referendum should always offer, AT MINIMUM, Status quo services.  We should never be voting on a  budget which offers less to the students than the year before (including programs, class sizes, etc..)  

Last, if we can encourage other PTAs to be vocal and state that they will be working to get the budget passed, that would be extremely important.  The years that the PTAs were most involved the budgets have passed on the first try.  The PTAs can be a major force to minimize cuts to the budget and to get the budget passed. 

Here's the complete agenda to the meeting.

Please share this on your Facebook page to let everyone know.

We are stronger together so please come out to support OUR kids.


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Concerned Parent October 16, 2012 at 03:11 PM
At 6:30, the LC education committee is discussing next year's BOE school budget recommendations. At 7:00, the board of finance is holding a special meeting about the Board of Education reports. Then at 7:30, the LC meets. If anyone can get there earlier, please do so.
Paul Alexander October 16, 2012 at 03:33 PM
IF the numbers support the consolidation of school facilities, then it NEEDS to be done as the taxpayers can’t support the whims of a small group of parents who want their children to go to a particular school that may need to be shuttered in order to get capacity and utilization more in line.
Paul Alexander October 16, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Now...having said that...I will be pleasantly surprised if a sound business decision is made in lieu of a politically expedient decision.
Cathy Breen Austermann October 16, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Paul it's not about the specific school - it's about longer bus rides for kids on the edge of town, larger class sizes, changes for children, and for some health reasons. All of this effects quality of education.
Paul Alexander October 16, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Agree. But the Town just can't AFFORD to maintain the excess capacity. What everyone wants and what the town can afford are diverging. Accept that so we all can start prioritizing the limited dollars. The days of shoveling money at inefficient, wasteful spending are OVER. It’s time to make tough, grown up, business decisions.
Veritas vos liberabit October 16, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Closing a school like HOM is a terrible idea. Bad for the kids, terrible for property values in the area. Penny wise, pound foolish.
Paul Alexander October 16, 2012 at 05:37 PM
If in fact there is reliable data showing school enrollment and school facilities are mismatched…and if closing an unneeded school is a “terrible idea that is bad for the kids, terrible for property values in the area, Penny wise, pound foolish”, then the town should build a dozen new schools, NOW and let them sit vacant. Imagine how happy the children will be and how rapidly property values will rise! If SOME excess capacity is good Sully, then MORE must be better.
Concerned Parent October 16, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Paul, the problem is that there is no data that supports closing of the data at this time. Glad they can talk abouta dog park and in the next sentence discuss closing schools.
Paul Alexander October 16, 2012 at 06:18 PM
CP, Which is why I preface my comments with "IF". My point is IF the capacity and utilization numbers are clearly convincing then DO IT. Pull the trigger. Of course, deciding to close a school is only half the decision. Which school to close is just as critical. Get them both right and the town wins. Get one or both wrong and EVERYONE losses. As far as fiscal "priorities" in Town...I'm with you. Lots of "Nice to Haves" getting done while the roads crumble. It's a leadership issue.
Concerned Parent October 16, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Paul, Agreed. Unfortunately, nothing communicated to date has been clear AND consistent. Let's see how this shakes out.
Jack Miller October 16, 2012 at 07:16 PM
From my perspective, I do feel that the primary reason people choose to move to Newtown, and why they will continue to do so, is for the schools. We don’t have a beach, we don’t have a sports complex, ice rink or a museum, and we don’t have a thriving large commercial base—one that attracts large numbers of consumers from far distances or one that contributes significantly to the tax base. I sat in Starbucks one day, and was approached by someone thinking of moving to Newtown. His first question to me when he wanted to learn about living in Newtown? He asked about the schools. He asked the same questions I asked when I was looking into living here. It’s the primary thing we have to attract more people to live here and grow the tax base.
Concerned Parent October 16, 2012 at 07:52 PM
I agree 100% Jack. That was the reason we moved here. It's the same reason that I convinced a few families recently to buy in Newtown.
Jennifer October 17, 2012 at 12:17 AM
LC and Board of Finance are swindling our children's education and they are doing it with their eyes wide open. To uproot a whole building 5 grades in total and displace many of our children is “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.”
Kathy Fetchick October 17, 2012 at 02:11 AM
@Concerned Parent, Below is our Education Committee Agenda which is also posted on the Town calendar: CALL TO ORDER VOTER COMMENTS COMMUNICATIONS NEW BUSINESS: Discussion and possible action: Board of Education 2013-14 Budget recommendations. VOTER COMMENTS ANNOUNCEMENTS ADJOURNMENT Just so everyone is clear about the goal of our meeting, it is to review our experience from last year, and any other prior experience, and provide the larger group (LC, BOE, BOS, BOF) with what we think would be new beneficial information/new processes which would aid in reviewing the BOE budget in the upcoming year.
Concerned Parent October 17, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Thanks Kathy. I want people to be aware of it and understand the items that are being discussed.
Kathy Fetchick October 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM
What I find unfortunate by your article is that it has nothing to do with what is actually on the agendas and you have absolutely no basis for your assumptions. You say, "We believe this meeting is in response to 4 issues that have been raised by Newtown Elected Officials and their impact on the budget:"... who is "We"? Basically, you're just stirring the pot and to what end I have no idea.
Concerned Parent October 17, 2012 at 12:50 PM
OK Kathy, we'll just close our eyes and trust that your intention is to make children's education a priority. :-). We'll continue to be involved and communicate what is being discussed.
Jennifer October 17, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Forgot your agenda, your meeting is there zero chance that an elementary school will be closing in the next three years? It's either yes or no. Until then we will stand together and fight for what is right. If you want to call it stirring the pot then you are clearly the one with the agenda. YES OR NO?????
Jennifer October 17, 2012 at 08:01 PM
My question was for Kathy.


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