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Taxpayers' Group Urges 'No' Vote in Referendum

Says List of Alternative Reductions in Board of Education's 2011-12 Operating Budget Weren't Considered

Editor's note: The following letter was received from Kate Daniello, co-founder of We the People of Fairfield, a taxpayers' advocacy group.

It is always the same outcome no matter what any of the town boards do. If they vote to reduce the Board of Education's budget by a single amount, as the Board of Selectmen/Board of Finance did with their $2 million, they are criticized by the Board of Education for not providing detail as to where those reductions should come from. If they do provide detail as in the Representative Town Meeting's additional reduction of $800,000, they are criticized for having come up with the reductions in supposedly "secret meetings" and then the recommendations are often ignored by the BOE.

Supt. of Schools David Title's list of proposed cuts, which equal the total $2.8 million in reductions approved by town boards, include only some of the outlined recommendations from the RTM. Why? For example, what happened to the recommendation to:

1. Eliminate the Deputy Superintendent position and not replace him with a full time compliment.

2. Eliminate Curriculum Leaders and move the responsibility to full time teachers affected by curricula changes and make their day 1/2 curriculum leadership and 1/2 teacher.

Further, We the People has suggested since April that the Board of Education and Dr. Title consider:

1. Reducing the number of houses at the high schools from 3 houses at each to 2. WTP has backed off an earlier request to eliminate the house system all together because Dr. Title has stated that he is not in favor of it and there is not enough time to implement it in this year’s budget. However, WTP still feels that the town of Fairfield has the luxury of 2 high schools, and since the number of students at each high school is relatively low, 3 houses at each is overkill. Each Fairfield high school has approximately 1,400 students, while the town of Greenwich has only one high school with over 3,000 students.

2. We also suggested that Dr. Gary Rosato, director of Curriculum Assessment and Instruction, be moved into a Assistant Superintendent role with all of his current responsibilities.

3. Eliminate the cost of hiring principals to run the summer school program.

4. Redo the Prismatic audit's teacher survey to see what recommendations they might have for improving the overall efficiency of the educational system.

Dr. Title has said that he would eliminate the proposal to charge a fee for high school students to play on sports teams and reinstate what is proposed to be cut from foreign language instruction in grades 4 to 6 if $800,000 is restored to the school budget through the townwide referendum.

WTP would like to know why these items are even being considered as reductions? What about the things mentioned above which would have little or no impact on direct student education?

Please join We the People of Fairfield and vote NO in the Referendum to put $800,000 back into the education budget. Contact WTP at wtpfairfield@gmail.com or call 203-255-3960.

Kate Daniello, co-founder We the People of Fairfield

Fairfield

Kate Daniello May 19, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Fairfield Homeowner (continued) My husband has owned our beach house since 1965 ... Our house is 1,584 square feet ... still the original 1906 structure and footprint. Our land is .08 acre, hardly room to park a car. Our assessment was increased 55%... With the new mil rate our taxes have almost doubled what they were in 2010. There is just no chance our property would sell for the value the town has set. I do think there should be a law against raising any property tax that much in one clip! ... How many years can Fairfield sustain the spending instead of finding logical avenues to trim the budgets. Families... make tough decisions based on income and reality... Why can't Fairfield do the same! Our town leadership has been unable to reign in spending... they seem to believe spending more and more will fix everything. These leaders have lost all connection to common sense. Fairfield is my hometown. I’ll always call it “home”... There comes a time of reaching a limit of tolerance to Fairfield’s increasing taxes. It will be interesting to see where Fairfield is in five years. Christine Anderson
Kylie May 19, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Kate lots of people of all ages are on fixed budgets for various reasons. No one on the RTM is on the Board of Education, so their recommendations are as useless as the $35 savings they gave me. My costs have gone up, my income hasn't either. NEWS FLASH, WE THE PUBLIC GOT NO RETURN ON OUR MONEY FOR OUR TAX "SAVINGS"! It doesn't matter if you aren't in favor of pay to play. It doesn't matter that you don't want to fire teachers. It doesn't matter that you don't to fire paras. What matters is you came out barking up a storm to cut the education budget EVEN when you were warned that all those things "you don't want" would happen. Your cries of sympathy ring hollow for the real "little" people.
Chuck E. Arla May 19, 2011 at 07:39 PM
Kylie: "No one on the RTM is on the Board of Education, so their recommendations are as useless..." WOW! That statement is breathtaking. So only those on the BOE are enlightened enough to comment on/suggest changes to their taxpayer funded budget? Well why don't we just eliminate the entire budget approval process? Who needs the Selectamen, B of F or the RTM?? Let's just allow the B of E and the Superintendent to tell us how much they want and be done with all this frivolous democracy and voter/taxpayer involvement. That work for you and their majesties? While you're at it, I guess we might as well eliminate all oversight and audits of all state and federal bodies; corporations and unions, too. Afterall, if you are not in-the-know you don't know nuthin'.
something to think about May 19, 2011 at 08:04 PM
Mrs. Daniello, a couple of points: 1) Seniors who are having difficulty paying their property taxes can (and should!) apply for tax relief. 2) At the RTM meeting Mrs. Richmond stated her subgroup came up with around $2.7 million in reductions, $500,000 less than what they were proposing to be cut from the BOE's budget and $100,000 less than was actually cut! So much for "doing their homework." 3)You keep complaining that Dr. Title isn't paying attention to suggestions made by the Prismatic audit, but as many people keep reminding you, you are picking and choosing what you want to take away from the audit. If you want to eliminate/reduce the house system, then you should have no problem adding 2.5 administrators. Dr. Title has said many times that he has picked the low hanging fruit from the audit, that some of the other suggestions actually cost money, and that he wants to take more time to see if the educational costs of other suggestions are worth the $ savings. The town requested more time to review their audit suggestions, shouldn't the BOE be given the same opportunity? 4) The BOE has trimmed their budget. The budget Dr. Title presented to the town had $1.7million in savings from this current year's budget and the majority of the increases are due to contractual and fixed obligations. The $2.8 million cut (even a $2.0million cut) is a cut to the current year's budget. Let's not forget that enrollment is projected to increase by 100 students as well.
Kylie May 19, 2011 at 08:04 PM
Chuck, I just meant the RTM isn't the one making the actual cuts to education items. The RTM recommendations are useless because they aren't the one executing them. Understand?
Chuck E. Arla May 19, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Understand? Not at all. By law the RTM can NOT dictate where the BOE makes specific budget changes; they can only change the budget request. However in discussion they can say, "We are going to reduce your request by X. We can't tell you how to execute that but....you might consider Y.....what really got our attention was Z." Isn't that more helpful and in the spirit of cooperation than to just say the budget is reduced by this amount...tough noogies....we're taking our ball and going home? But when they did try to study the budget and come up w/ areas to revise all we heard were breathless charges of secret panels and Star Chamber procedings. By law they can revise the total budgets passed by the Selectmen and the BoF. Suggestions are just that. Don't understand your cavalier dismissal of their legal function
Rich K. May 19, 2011 at 11:13 PM
Excuse me "hometown" I apologize. Your are right we definitely need an administrative position paid over 6 figures for adult education. I don't see how this advances our children but it does make for a heckuva pottery class this summer. See you in Italian for beginners...........................
Kate Daniello May 20, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Double Speak And as I stated above WTP subsequestly decided NOT to RUN a counter referendum because we felt that the RTM had reached a fair decision for both sides with its $ 800,000 additional reduction.
R. Ludlowe May 20, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Kate, are you quoting other people, or other articles or something? your posts are very unclear. If we are supposed to feel bad for someone that has had beach-front property since 1965, your ploy isnt very effective. Typically if you want to quote another article, pasting a URL to that page is most effective.
Chuck E. Arla May 20, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Posting logistics aside (and I agree w/ you there) . . . I'm stunned, actually I'm not, at the contempt you have for the plight of someone whose tax bill DOUBLED in one year. Have a little sense of the history of this Town. Many very old homes down by the beach were old summer bungaloes. The McMansions weren't built until the last decade or so. And it's the McMansions that have driven that area's proprty assesments through the roof. Ditto for the little Cape Cods throughout the greater beach area. It's really not all about just another $30 or $40 per taxpayer.
Don't Mess With Texas May 20, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Suggest all you want Representative Arla. If the BOE listens to your suggestions and tells you on the floor of the RTM that they aren't going to take them AND INSTEAD tells you what they are going to do--which is eliminate 38 FTE, then I agree with the previous writer, Kate lobbyied to cut more from the education budget knowing full well the BOE wasn't taking your RTM suggestions. Therefore, I'm with everyone else writing in on this blog--WTP is anti-education.
Don't Mess With Texas May 20, 2011 at 02:11 PM
Let's also be clear that you aren't WTP, you are Kate and Bob. You aren't registered as a group anywhere, you don't have 3,000 members. You have an email list with names on it that you use to send out your often false propaganda.
Don't Mess With Texas May 20, 2011 at 02:17 PM
R. Ludlowe, totally agree, Kate lives in Greenfield Hill, this Anderson person whoever that may be lives on the Beach. Stop whining.
Kate Daniello May 20, 2011 at 04:43 PM
R Ludlowe - As I mentioned in my first comment I have never commented on articles WTP has sent into the on line news organizations. So, sorry if I have done anything inapproprite that was not my intention. The full article can be found on ALLFAIRFIELD.com. That news organization sent me a link and asked me to comment on the article by Christine Anderson who is not a WTP supporter although I hope she will become one. I felt that he story was pertinent here. Yes, WTP feels empathy for Christine and many others like her from the Post Road south down to the sound whose taxes hve nearly doubled in ONE YEAR. Yes I do live in Greenfield Hill, so are you saying that where a person lives should dictate whether on not they care about others. I was also raised as a catholic and educated by Jesuits who instilled in me the benefits of being a "Man for Others"
R. Ludlowe May 20, 2011 at 05:13 PM
I think Y'all (thats for you, Texas) need to relax. I was merely asking what the nature of Kate's ambiguous post was. It would have been much easier if you had pre-empted it with something like: "the following article is something I am quoting from ALLFAIRFIELD.com:" So, my question to Christine, and to any of y'all, is "who paid for your kids to go to school? Who paid for their foreign language and sports?"
R. Ludlowe May 20, 2011 at 05:15 PM
<<I was also raised as a catholic and educated by Jesuits>> Kate, did you attend public school or private school growing up?
Kate May 20, 2011 at 10:54 PM
I understand this is a heated subject and I really wish the seniors and the parents could be on the same side. All we want is a good education for our children. We moved to Fairfield to get that - we could have lived in Norwalk and gotten a bigger house, but the schools are awful. Fairfield is on the way to being undesirable. Once that happens then watch the people complain,people will move to get a better education for children, housing prices will pulmit,just watch. If the school system is not good and the community does not fund it, this town will fail. My sister lives in Wilton and I hear from her constantly (when I'm complaining about FFLD) that "Wilton has never turned down a budget" since she has lived there, 17 years. We pay just as much in taxes as her and their schools are more updated and her children are getting a better education - what is wrong with this picture? I understand that the seniors are on a fixed budget, frankly, so I am right now. I don't expect Dr. Title to spend, spend, spend, but I do expect that the kids should get what they need. Foreign Language, computers, safe updated schools, sports. I think that the majority of the cuts need to take place at central office and I also feel that kindergarten should be full day for all schools which will eliminate the need for the kindergarten buses. Let's all try to work together to make this town a town that others want to live in. It will benefit us all to be a desirable town.
Kate Daniello May 21, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Kate You are absolutely right this is a heated subject. WTP has been trying to get the BOE and Dr Title to review administrative costs as a way to recover the $ 2.8M in reductions. They say that all certified and non certified staff will be looked at, but most, not all of the positions being targeted were teachers. WTP has notified the BOE and Dr Title that we are NOT in favor of pay to play. Sports are an integral part of the high school experience. We would support eliminating freshman sports as long as though freshman are given the opportunity to go out for JV sports. Frankly, WTP is confused and concerned about the attention being given to the "pay to play" issure over the elimination of teacher positions and language programs. WTP wants to find common ground with parents, the BOE, Dr Title, PTA's, the First Selectman and the town boards BOF and RTM. We have reached out to all of these groups and some, the PTA's, have actually reached out to us. I am confident that we can and will find common ground, but it will take time and the Referendum is only one part of the process.
Kate Daniello May 21, 2011 at 09:28 PM
R. Ludlowe I attended a public kindergarten and then parochial schools from first grade through college. My parents did this not because they thought catholic schools were better than public schools, in fact they were not; we had far less in terms of course offerings, teacher qualifications and extra curriculars. My parents sent us to catholic schools for the religious education at an added cost while supporting public schools with their tax dollars. It was their choice. I have 3 grown children, 27, 26 and 20. Two of my children attended the Fairfield Public Schools and had a rewarding experience. They all attended catholic high schools in our area for the same reasons I did.
Just One Teacher May 23, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Chuck "it's the McMansions that have driven that area's proprty assesments through the roof." So what exactly does that have to do with slashing the school budgets??? Am I just that hungry and tired that I am missing it?
R. Ludlowe May 23, 2011 at 09:48 PM
I've thought about this a lot over the weekend, and I have come to the realization that this cut of $800K should REMAIN. If you agree, then VOTE NO in the upcoming referendum on JUNE 15. Go to your hand-written desk calendar RIGHT NOW, find WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, and put a BIG RED X on it so you know to report to your local voting location that day. See you there!
R. Ludlowe May 23, 2011 at 09:55 PM
You're probably hungry and tired, but you also have a good question. He's not talking about the school budgets, he's addressing why we should feel bad for the beach-front property owner whose taxes (and property value) have gone through the roof in the last decade. If they bought it 45 years ago, one would assume that they have paid it off, or are mostly done in paying it off. I assume that in 1965 a house at the beach cost, what... maybe 15-20K? So now these poor folks are paying nothing but taxes on a house and those taxes have doubled in the last decade. Their initial investment of under 50K for their house is probably worth over $1MM. Anyway... to answer your question JOT, it has nothing to do with slashing the school budget. Its just yet another WTP-type of distraction from the issue at hand.
Just One Teacher May 23, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Also, what is this garbage I keep seeing some people spew about renters? You are foolish if you think the property is owner is paying the taxes on rented property. The RENTERS ARE! That is what they pay rent for!!! The owner simply takes the rent keeps a cut and hands the rest over to the mortgage company, utilities, and town. Anyone who isn't charging enough rent to at least be paying the upkeep on the property, never mind making a small profit, should get out of the real estate business!!!
OneFairfield May 23, 2011 at 10:05 PM
isnt the vote on the 14th a Tuesday?
Chuck E. Arla May 24, 2011 at 05:26 PM
R. Ludlowe aka George III: So now it's dirty tricks and deliberate misinformation? It's time to change your moniker yet again from George III to Saul Alinsky. THE REFERENDUM IS ON JUNE 14 . . . not RL's bogus date of 6/15. Nice try.
Kiss this Kate May 25, 2011 at 04:48 AM
Oh come on Bride O' Chucky, Rog is just funnin' yah. Plus, since mindless, anonymous blog posts are the only place katie gets her facts she probably would show up on the 15th (with her 18 followers). And wouldn't that be a hoot. Chuck, maybe you should think about a day job. You are wound too tight, bro. Maybe get back on the sauce and lighten up a bit, eh? No one gives a rats a@@ about the referendum but the 13 RTM members on this blog and that narcissistic nut case Daniello, Hey Kate, look, your name is on the internet! Did you get a rush?
R. Ludlowe May 25, 2011 at 12:32 PM
Thanks, I got a good chuckle at this.
Chuck E. Arla May 25, 2011 at 01:18 PM
KTK "Nice" moniker. Vulgarity is the sign of a weak mind trying to express itself. The moderator of this board should strike that out. As for the rest of your comments . . . well, I guess there's hope for you once you work your way through that puberty thing.
R. Ludlowe May 25, 2011 at 02:25 PM
uh oh, KTK, looks like you struck a nerve. Chucky-A skipped right over the "the world doesn't center around you" and gone STRAIGHT to the "you are still in puberty" attack. DONT FORGET TO VOTE **NO** ON JUNE 14, 2012!
Chuck E. Arla May 25, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Two peas in a pod.

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