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12 Things to Know About Tuesday's Referendum

The referendum is on whether $800,000 cut from the Board of Education's proposed 2011-12 budget by the Representative Town Meeting should be restored

Tuesday's the day for voting in the townwide referendum on whether $800,000 cut from the proposed Board of Education budget for 2011-12 by the Representative Town Meeting should be restored. Here are 12 things to keep in mind:

1) A "Yes" vote means the voter is in favor of restoring the $800,000. A "No" vote means the voter is opposed.

2) Voting hours are from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at regular polling places, except for voters in District 2, who will vote in Burr Elementary School. For a list of polling places, see the bottom of this article.

3) Residents should be able to catch returns of the referendum as they become available from the comfort of their homes. The Registrar of Voters' Office plans to post results in each of the town's 10 voting districts, as they become available, on the town's website. To access the page, go to www.fairfieldct.org and click on "voter info" toward the bottom left side of the page. That should take you to a chart that shows results of the referendum.

4) For the referendum to succeed, 8,640 voters will have to vote "Yes" (in favor of restoring the $800,000) and those "Yes" votes also will have to be a majority of votes cast.

There are 34,557 voters in Fairfield, and the 25-percent requirement for a referendum to succeed pertains to "Yes" votes in favor of overturning the RTM's decision - not overall turnout.

If 8,600 voters vote "Yes" in Tuesday's referendum, 1,000 voters vote "No" and overall turnout is 27.8 percent, the referendum will fail because 25 percent of voters (or 8,640 voters) did not vote "Yes."

5) There's no "strategy" to voting in a referendum. Since the 25-percent requirement pertains only to "Yes" votes in favor of overturning the RTM's decision, voters who support the RTM's decision won't have any effect on the 25-percent requirement. Voters who support the RTM's decision are only important in determining which side has a majority - but the question of which side has a majority is irrelevant unless "Yes" votes reach 8,640.

6) The Board of Education's budget for 2011-12, as approved by the RTM, is $145.68 million, a 2.9 percent increase over the current budget of $141.6 million. If the referendum succeeds, the Board of Education's budget will be increased to $146.48 million, a 3.5 percent increase over the current budget.

7) The last successful referendum was in 1995, when voters overturned the RTM's approval of $24.6 million to renovate the former Roger Ludlowe High School into space for educational and recreational uses.

In that referendum, 8,377 voters voted to overturn the RTM's decision; 4,170 voters voted in favor of the RTM's decision; and overall turnout was 37.9 percent. The number of votes needed to overturn the RTM's decision in that referendum was 8,276.

8) According to the Fairfield Registrar of Voters' Office, 16 referendums have been held since 1960. Of those, only five (or less than 33 percent) succeeded. Before 1995, the last successful referendum was in 1972.

9) Two referendums that failed since 1960 actually wound up "winning" in the end because the RTM reversed its decision after the unsuccessful referendum.

In 1975, the RTM rescinded its approval of $3 million to build a Community and Recreation Center in Tunxis Hill Park after a referendum because 8,040 voters were against the project (just 25 votes short of the required 8,065 votes for the referendum to succeed.) In 1983, the RTM rescinded its approval of $770,000 in preliminary work for a complex of senior citizen housing and adult daycare at the former Grasmere School because the vote in that referendum was 5,782 against the idea and only 740 in favor. The number of "No" votes needed for that referendum to succeed was 8,039 - well short of the 5,782 actually recorded.

10) The outcome in Tuesday's referendum is final because, unlike in 1975 and 1983, the RTM isn't allowed to rescind its vote after the referendum. Town attorneys said the votes to rescind in 1975 and 1983 were on bonding resolutions, while the RTM's vote last month was on the budget - not a bonding resolution.

11) The most recent referendum was held in August on the RTM's decision to approve $350,000 to build a girls' Little League field and infrastructure for a park on Hoyden's Lane. That referendum failed, with 2,404 voters opposed to the RTM's decision and 1,168 voters in favor. For that referendum to succeed, 8,848 voters would have had to vote against the RTM's decision and those votes also would have had to be a majority of votes cast.

12) The highest voter turnout in any referendum since 1975 was in 1997, when voters upheld the RTM's decision to approve $17.1 million to convert the former Roger Ludlowe High School building into a middle school. Turnout in that referendum was 41.3 percent, with 7,630 votes in favor of the RTM's decision and 6,794 votes opposed.

The middle school moved a few years later into a new building on the Ludlowe campus so the Board of Education could reopen a high school in the former Roger Ludlowe High School building.

Here are the polling locations for Tuesday's referendum, which will be done by hand ballot. Residents unsure of which voting district they live in can call the Registar of Voters' Office at 203-256-3115 or the Town Clerk's Office at 203-256-3090.

District 1 - Fairfield Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace

District 2 -Burr Elementary School, 1960 Burr St.

District 3 - Dwight School, 1600 Redding Road

District 4 - Osborn Hill School, 760 Stillson Road

District 5 - McKinley School, 60 Thompson St.

District 6 - Fairfield Warde High School, 755 Melville Ave.

District 7 - North Stratfield School, 190 Putting Green Road

District 8 - Holland Hill School, 200 Meadowcroft Road

District 9 - Fairfield Ludlowe High School, 785 Unquowa Road

District 10 - Roger Sherman School, 250 Fern St.

Alrick H Man IV June 14, 2011 at 11:07 AM
vote no
maryHelen Melnick June 14, 2011 at 11:19 AM
VOTE NO. THIS WILL HELP ALL HERE IN FAIRFIELD NOT JUST THE SCHOOL PARENTS.
Fairfield Resident June 14, 2011 at 11:41 AM
Vote NO on June 14th!!!!!
Stanley Simpleton June 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM
Teach our children FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY - VOTE NO!
Melioro June 14, 2011 at 12:33 PM
Mr. Brophy, This was a very good explanation of the situation. Thank you for putting this together.
Dan McKnight June 14, 2011 at 12:41 PM
Vote Yes. This is not just about the parents of school children but about the future of the town. We all benefit from a strong educational system.
Fairfield Resident June 14, 2011 at 01:00 PM
VOTE YES on JUNE 14th!!!!!
Beau Villecco June 14, 2011 at 01:16 PM
VOTE YES. Let the RTM and BOF know that we are a town that values education, not just for our children but for the future. An excellent public education system benefits the entire population of Fairfield and creates the family friendly atmosphere that has made Fairfield one of the most desirable locations in the New York area. If you want your kids to move back to Fairfield give them an education system that they will want THEIR KIDS to attend.
Dermochelys coriacea June 14, 2011 at 01:28 PM
See, that's where you and your WTP friends tend to get lost. It's about the kids, maryhelen. It's not about parents, politics, or beachfront taxes. It's about our town's children and their peers for years to come. It's about giving them the best we can. As voters we have the responsibility and te right to be heard. Vote YES today to reverse the actions of an RTM that votes without listening to anyone but a loud minority.
The D June 14, 2011 at 02:51 PM
I voted NO. The education system in this town is great, has always been great, and will continue to be even if this cut stays in tact. Taxes in this town are pushing people out. I get that this money is for education but that is a blanket excuse to keep passing everything that comes onto the table with the word "education" on it. It's out of control. We can't just keep raising taxes with no end in sight even if it is for education. Really, it's too bad the budget couldn't be reallocated to save any potentially lost jobs or programs affected by this cut. I am sure there is a lot of needless spending still in tact in the current budget. But I am just presuming such, I don't know for sure. Either way, my guess is that the YES votes will prevail, and our taxes will go up, and while yes education is paramount, where do we draw the line?
G Hoffman June 14, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Please explain how the education system, "...will continue to be [great] even if this cut stays in tact." Greatness requires more than just nostalgia.
Kevin J. Lennon June 14, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Please take the time to vote Yes today and restore the $800,000 the education budget to avoid the program losses that will be implimented as advised by Dr. Title. Excellent article by Mr. Brophy too!
MJ June 14, 2011 at 05:34 PM
Next year I really hope the RTM will eliminate the golf courses in this town. Talk about a waste of money. Who does it really benefit to have golf courses?
R. Ludlowe June 14, 2011 at 05:40 PM
whoa whoa whoa... is that a serious idea you are stating? I'm not even sure where or how to begin to address that...
Doug June 14, 2011 at 05:48 PM
The removal of the $800,000 by the RTM is a travesty. Please take the time to vote YES today. If nothing else, the impact on the World Language program is huge - Spanish use in this country and world wide is growing rapidly, and I think taking the early learning prgrams from the students does a great disservice to them. Vote YES!
Alrick H Man IV June 14, 2011 at 06:15 PM
vote no now
The D June 14, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Point taken. What I was trying to say is the children of Fairfield will still get a quality education even with this cut. I do feel that languages are important and I would hate to see the program cut, but in these tough economic times, which have affected me personally, I also would hate to see my taxes go up again. I highly doubt that it will get voted down anyway! I actually really wish they cut the money from somewhere else in town to recoup that money. I never want to see education cut but at the same time there has to be a point where the ever increasing money we as residents pay into the system is considered.
MJ June 14, 2011 at 07:35 PM
a personal observation ... until cemeteries are combined with golf courses both seem a humongous waste of space and natural resources, not to mention $$
R. Ludlowe June 14, 2011 at 07:41 PM
I think both turn a profit, MJ. Have you ever walked the Smith Richardson Golf Course? I'd venture to say some of the nicest views in town are seen from that location. Waste of Space? hardly... I'd rather see all of that open land being used by people that are out, about, and exercising than yet another condo complex full of people that don't want their taxes to go to education... And as a golfer, I can attest that combining them to one location (golf and tombstones) would be a bad idea (though challenging) if that's where you are going with this...
Kevin J. Lennon June 14, 2011 at 07:47 PM
MJ - check out the golf course revenue figures at the town's website: http://www.fairfieldct.org/budget-REVENUE.pdf (check page 4/6). This was for budget year 2009 - 10 but assume the figures are more or less in line. In addition to providing a wonderful recreational opportunity the courses generate significant revenue for the town. I have not studied the figures but I believe they are on the whole revenue positive. (06/07) (07/08) (08/09) (09/10) Golf Course - Par 3 Fees 306,277 320,332 316,800 322,000 Smith Rich. - Season Tix 60,280 57,927 64,000 58,000 Smith Rich. - I.D. Cards 101,882 102,627 108,000 103,500 Smith Rich. Locker Fee 3,600 3,200 3,600 3,500 Smith Rich. - Golf Fees 919,687 956,199 968,200 1,090,508 Smith Rich. - Range 139,731 144,270 152,000 150,000 Smith Rich. - Golf Carts 237,710 237,578 239,500 290,000
Heather Dean June 14, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Vote Yes TODAY, keep Fairfield Schools Strong.
Anna Pinto June 14, 2011 at 09:17 PM
More smoke in the channel. The only travesty is that we have to fight to LIMIT THE INCREASE, YES LIMIT THE INCREASE in our education budget when we should be talking about significant cuts. Its not about the children, never has been. Its about living beyond our means and not having the strength of character to do the right thing by making necessary and needed cuts in a reasoned and practical way. WE NEED TO DO MORE WITH LESS. Virtually every individual, family, company, local and state government, and now even the federal government understands this fact of life. There is something seriouisly wrong that all Fairfielders don't get the picture. We need a new paradigm which starts with the premise that next year's budget will be 90% of this bloated budget. Start with that answer and do the things necessary to make it happen. What can't be derived from organizational/operational efficiencies should come in the form off across the board benefit and salary DECREASES. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET VOTED, PLEASE GO AND VOTE NO! SEND A MESSAGE THAT WE MUST MAKE THIS SMALL CUT AS A PRECURSER TO MUCH BIGGER CUTS NEXT YEAR. IF NOT NOW WHEN? STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!
Doug June 14, 2011 at 11:26 PM
The writer above doesn't get it. The BOE has contractual committments, union committments and fixed costs that are going up. To take $2.80m out of a proposed budget is irresponsible. Worst, World Language, more importantly Spanish, which is rapidly growing, is going away under the proposal. I would support cuts, but not of this magnitude. Vote YES!!!!
Shakespeare's Sister June 15, 2011 at 01:42 PM
This is a myth. The educational system in the town of Fairfield is falling behind. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Dept of Education, and Connecticut State Department of Education, the town of Fairfield doesn't even rank in the top 30 districts in the state. Currently, Trumbull is rannked higher than Fairfield. You can't gain by taking away. Fairfield's students will pay for yesterday's failed referendum for years to come.
maryHelen Melnick June 15, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Many thanks to kate and bob of WTP who did a wonderful job. this has now gotten the town to really take a good look at how money can be saved and still give children a good education. most of my years in school I went to catholic school and well we had a good education. We had 38 in each call and two classes of each grade.We did not have gym or snack time like our public school peers. We did school work until we had recess time.then if it was too cold to go out in the winter we did math games and games of skill inside.We neve felt deprived of anything. what we did learn was how to do hard work and how to stick to a project until it was finished.We learned that finishing a project was the reward .Maybe it is time to bring back this type of values to the public school.
R. Ludlowe June 16, 2011 at 08:29 PM
MaryHelen, what exactly is your exposure to today's school system? How do you know what today's values are? Do you have any actual experience to Fairfield School System? It seems there is a huge amount of rhetoric in your posts. Frankly, your communications do not speak to a system that prepared you very well for the modern world. I'm not sure that your 38-student classroom is something that we should strive for, and I find it insulting (and I'm not a teacher) that you insinuate that today's classrooms are not focused on such things as "finishing projects."
maryHelen Melnick June 28, 2011 at 01:38 PM
R. ludlowe: I know very well about todays school system. I also know that in the catholic school system compaired to the public school system it would take the public school system one week to do all the work the catholic system does in one day. Thats a fact. I find your constant nit picking on any subject your can find here on the fairfield patch where you can nit pick away at people very insulting in fact. Its very clear that you have alot of free time that can be put to better use.when ones freedom of speach becomes verbal abuse then maybe you should should look to other ways of using your free time!

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