Monday, April 05, 2010

Thoughts on tonight's public hearing?

It's too late for me to opine. Do you have any comments on tonight's meeting?

I remain steadfast in my belief that frontline teachers are more important than a back office Personnel Director. I will continue trying to build support to focus tax dollars on services that clearly benefit taxpayers.

I also offer that I bet Councilman Ruocco would have been proud of his daughter tonight.

Tim White

180 comments:

Anonymous said...

All I can say is good luck. It is not easy, but cuts need to be made.

To those people who didn't like Schrumms definition of a rainy day, too bad. He is 100% right.
We don't dip into that when we have budget cut issues. We will never repay it.

To those who feel the education system is the only thing that Cheshire has to offer, I feel bad for you. Then again, I assume you will be moving out once your kids get their eucations.

Cheshire is more than a town with a good education system. But, if we continue to bump up our taxes to the point where our mill rate is too high, we will drive away many people. This is not a town made up of just families with kids in our school system. The TC needs to remeber that.

Tony Perugini said...

I'm glad people turned out to voice their concerns tonight. For me the best part of the meeting was listening to kids speak. It takes courage for these young kids to get up to the microphone like they did and I was impressed/moved. I'm happy to see that they're taking an active interest in this.

What bothers me about the meeting is that the challenges we're facing next year and the year after specifically with education were lost tonight.

Even if by some miracle the TC restores Dr. Florio's original budget...how do we reconcile 2011 and 2012? $6.5M in the hole just to keep this year's level of services in tact. No new investments, no new capital projects but simply trying to meet contractual and stand-mandated obligations.

See you Thursday night.
- Tony

Anonymous said...

Tony
Please don't even mention restoring Florio's budget. You and the other BOE worked hard to get it to a manageble area. We can't increase it because a bunch of parents and students showed up tonight.

I was impressed with the students as well, but I don't think they realize how severe this economy is and how it will only get worse. They are worried about losing their opportunity to be in a play of play on a sports team while many of us are concerned aboutkeeping our homes. I don't want to slight what they are saying, but his is reality.

Thanks for all you did make the budget somewhat workable for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Tony- -

You kind of come across as possibly just not getting it. It is true that it would be wonderful if the town school system could invest in the future instead of just trying to maintain the current status quo.

Reality seems to be saying the student population is declining and at least some families currently are leaving for jobs or better jobs elsewhere. The present school system may have served residents well in the 80's and into the 90's. It isn't clear that as built that it will continue to serve well as the 21st century unfolds on us.

Many of us parents are beginning to wonder whether or not it is time for some big changes. There is no way long term that the BOE in Cheshire can continue with large budget increases year after year. If nothing else it seems long past the time when the local BOE needs to stop pandering to and supporting what in this economy appears quite frivolous - - you know the never ending quest for an artificial turf playing field which could be used by hundreds of activities not directly associated with school day education requirements. You and all the BOE members need to focus on school day education issues so going forward our children can be assured of academic success in the coming years.

Cindy Kleist said...

This is Cindy Kleist Speaking--I wnnt to thank all of you for reading my blog and I want to thank Tim White for supporting me also. It is not easy doing a blog but I enjoyed it. Doing a blog and giving your opinion opens to you up to criticism. I know some of you didn't support me but I tried to get involved and I spoke from my heart. I really feel sad that UTH is gone but I know I have to move on. Good luck Tim.

Breachway said...

We need to make cuts. Everything points to an even tighter year in 2011 and 2012, you are right. Traveling across the state this weekend to visit relatives allowed me to read a few different newspapers: Norwich Bulletin, New London Day....the story is the same everywhere - towns are making significant cuts in their education budgets, teachers are getting laid off and some elective/advanced classes are being cut. These towns know that cuts need to happen this year to help prepare for the next few yrs...

Anonymous said...

I can’t believe that one of our town counselors compared education funding with a trip to Disney World.

I think it was the same counselor that said we could blame the elderly for funding problems because the senior center is like the pool and both rely on tax revenue.

Thanks go to a few residents that set the record straight on these issues.

Anonymous said...

There were a few people last night who made the same references about "I would gladly pay more" and "the average income in town is over $100,000 a year". To these people I say that's fine for you but many in this town are trying hard to keep their heads above water and do not make anything near the average income. The town has to make some hard financial decisions and with the outlook for next year being so grim they have to make them now. Increases keep compounding.

Anonymous said...

9:25
You and the other parents hear only what you want to hear.
Dave Schrumm was not talking directly about the education budget. He was talking about the Rainy Day Fund. You don't dip into it to make up for a budget defecit. That is not considered an urgency.
You need to look at all areas and see where you can cut. Just like in your home budget, you may not want to dip into your emergency funds to take a trip.
What he, and many of us feel, we can still cut the budget (remember, we aren't doing a 0% incease, there is still an increease)and offer a very good education product.

Get over it. It is disgusting to hear the number of parents out there who won't question the superintendent's budget, but will question the TC and the BOE. Do they know that the 2.5% incease that Florio wanted is going to be used efficiently?
I don't have the confidence in that.

Anonymous said...

Some people were impressed by the turnout of parents and students in support of ever increasing the school budget or more accurately supporting the life style of some 400 or so union members.

There is nothing surprising about the turnout as it was a well planned act of using fear and intimidation to push parents and students into supporting the a bloated budget that continues to pay for the never ending demands for more money by the teachers.

The worst story I've heard nthis week was about an 11 year old girl, who thought it was her duty to go to the budget meeting and speak against any cuts. She didn't get this idea from her parents. I have so much trouble with people who use propaganda and fear tactics in our schools inorder to promote and protect union objectives.

I'm sick of the propaganda and feel the board of education should put a stop to it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the man who said we've reached a tipping point except he was just referring to the quality of our schools. I think we also have to look at the tipping point for spending. It is driven by teachers' salaries. Are they too high? What can we do? Teaching is hard work and a good teacher is worth gold but their salaries are now unsustainable.
Let's bring teachers to the table to solve the problem. Do we need regional initiatives? Earlier graduation? Larger class sizes? Parents taking on art and athletic activities? What are other towns doing? How can we be fair to teachers while preparing our kids for the competitive future?

Anonymous said...

If your head is barely above water, why do you live in a community that is clearly not as affordable as many others that are nearby? We can reduce the school budget as Schrumm proposes, but he still is proposing to raise taxes - almost identical in amount to the Democratic proposal. Cheshire is not going to suddenly become affordable for you because of Schrumm's spending priorities. There are so many more affordable places to live than Cheshire for people who are "barely above water." Why do we want to make Cheshire more affordable? Really, I don't understand the mentality. Is it a pride thing? Do you want people to think you're wealthy and you get a kick out of telling them you're from Cheshire? If you can live more comfortably in say, Meriden, why don't you do that? I'm not suggesting that people should be forced to move and I understand the hardship that many are going through. I just don't get why you'd continue to live in a town that is beyond your means?

Anonymous said...

9:54
Since you seem to have all the answers, tell me what happens when we force the seniors out of town and all the other residents who don't have kids in the school system?

You are very ignorant to those who came before you.

I am not one of those long term residents, and I do have children in the school system, but I also know in tough times, it hits everybody. Perhaps you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and this economy hasn't affected you, but to the real world, it is getting harder and harder to cover your expenses.

I can't believe there are actually people like you who are blind to the fact that we need more than just wealthy families to help make Cheshire work.
You must feel real good about yourself living in a town so you can be perceived to be wealthy.
This isn't Greenwich.

Anonymous said...

To those that want to pay more taxes; the Town Charter allows for that. Write a check to the Town of Cheshire and specify it has to be spent on the school system. That is one way you can pay more taxes. Maybe you organize a funding group to specifically raise money for the school system and your pet programs. There are many people in Town that do not have the same "love" for the school system or see all of contributing to it. Property values only are of interest if you plan on selling.

Anonymous said...

10:11
I think you hit the nail on the head.
Property taxes are only important if you are interested in selling. These parents, who are so consimed with their fear of losing value in their property will only stay in town till their kids are educated, then bolt and leave the rest of us to continue to foot the bill for the rest of the families left in the school system.

Anonymous said...

So many people say they came to Cheshire for the school system and they will leave Cheshire's high taxes as soon as their children graduate.

Anonymous said...

"This isn't Greenwich."

What a profound argument 10:07.

Not to use an adaptation of Freud here, but it seems that Cheshire has "waterfront envy". They always compare themselves to towns like Madison and Greenwich, but there is no waterfront. Maybe the pool is an attempt to get what they always wanted but never had?

Without the waterfront, why do people move here again? Answer: the schools.

Anonymous said...

10:07 You're right, it does take people of many socio-economic conditions to make up a great town like Cheshire. But if we base our spending priorities primarily on affordability, we lose much of what makes us an attractive place to live. And consider this: People are posting comments about not keeping their heads above water and so they're supporting a budget proposal (Schrumm's) that will raise the tax rate to 26.5 mills instead of a proposal (the Dems) that will raise it to 26.6 mills. Guess what? If you can't afford 26.6 mills, you can't afford 26.5 mills. And if you really can't afford it - if you can't put food on your table - if you can't put clothes on your children - if you can't pay the mortgage or the rent - you only have a few options. One is to increase your income. But as I'm sure we can agree, that is almost impossible for most everybody. The other is to lower your living costs. Well, nobody in power in the town of Cheshire is proposing to do that. Not Schrumm, not Ecke, not Milone. At some point, whether you live in Cheshire or Greenwich or Waterbury, you need to evaluate whether you can afford to live where you live. That's just common sense.

Anonymous said...

10:11 It's not about wanting to pay more taxes, it's about what our tax money is used for. Schrumm's proposal has nearly an identical effect on the tax rate as Ecke's. The first time during the next fiscal year that you buy a small coffee at Dunkin Donuts, you'll have squandered your savings from Schrumm's budget. He spends less on education and more on Town Hall windows and open-space management. He does not make this town one iota more affordable.

Anonymous said...

10:41
You are correct, .1 change in mill rate won't make or break us, but you need to look past this year.
If you were at the meeting last night, you heard Milone trlling us it is only going to get worse.
We need to look long and hard at where we can cut.
In an education system that has less students and more teachers then 5 years ago, and the student level is projected to decline even more, it makes sense to see if we can save in that area while still offering the top notch education that we are offering.
As Tim Slocum said last night, if we do decrease the budget, I don't think the teachers will stop teaching the way they are.

As for evaluating on whether you can afford to live where you are, 5 years ago, many of us could. Now, in a down economy and with rising costs, we all need to re-evaluate if we can afforsd to live here. Continue to push the mill rate up and you will push many of those, who have lived here all their lives, out of town. Which is a shame. We need them as much as we need anyone else. These are the people who support the families who have 2 or more kids in the school system.

Don't think that the school system is the only reason people live in this town. There are nice properties in this town that are convenient to major cities. The conveniences are why I live here. I know many others who feel the same way.
It is the typical school parent who feels we all live here for the education. We don't, but we all support it. We just want it to be fiscally responsible.

You continue to be arrogant about those who feel that we shouldn't keep raising taxes. Perhaps we can afford it, but we will need to make sacrifices in other areas.

I would like to know how much affect accepting the BOE's budget over Florio's budget the school system will have?

You also continue to blame Schrumm and the othe TC members, but the real albatross is the teacher's union and their refusal to re-open the contract.

Anonymous said...

these are some of the most ignorant and sad arguments from both sides on this issue.
move out of town? pay more? are teacher salaries too high? why would someone move from where they possibly grew up. why would someone pay "more" that their share. every employer would like o pay employees less. Are you all serious. Its a shame that this town has fallen so far

Anonymous said...

Spending more on education just because other towns do makes no sense.
Are we offering our children a good education?
I feel we are and at a decent savings.
To those who feel we are severly under budgeting our school system, will the scores increase dramatically if we raised our spending?

Lets stop comparing what other towns spend. Who cares. Look at the scores and we will see that we are offering a good product.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to pose a question for residents to respond to from either "side":. To quote Schrumm in last week's Herald: "Our intent is to approach that as what can the residents afford, not what the schools and the Town wants...I think that's doable [cutting the education budget]without impacting services...".

Without a real LONG-TERM framework for constructing fiscally responsible budgets in the years to come (when revenues will really make everyone tighten their belts) how can Mr. Schrumm say HE knows best-especially with respect to the education budget? I challenge him to publicly state the last time he visited one of our schools, spoke with team leaders, department chairs, teachers or administrative personnel? I know David to be a bright man, but find it quite amusing that he could intimate he has some "crystal ball" to "know" that reducing the education budget by nearly a $1 million or more will not impact services. How much will he need to reduce it next year $6 million!!! It's like someone going into Aetna (where he used to work) and say how about if we reduce your budget to lower insurance costs to consumers WITHOUT knowing ahead of time the ramifications for those cuts. Cheshire, WE need a sound, long-term fiscal plan that takes into consideration the future decreases in revenue but also maintains an excellent school system that will help maintain stable property values for even those of us who intend on staying here for a long time. All homes will eventually be sold unless you find the fountain of youth.

Anonymous said...

11:03 I don't disagree with some of what you say. But consider this: What economic harm would it do - long-term or short-term - for the GOP members to say, let's not fund the Town Hall replacement windows, the open-space management plan and the computer interface system and give the exact cost of those things to the school board. The GOP budget would remain exactly the same. Taxpayers would not pay a dime more. But maybe, just maybe, the school system could save a teaching position or a specific class that a certain group of students is interested in taking. Look, there is waste in all government spending, I know that. But there really isn't a debate this year about the bottom line - each side is just about identical. It really does just come down to priorities. You can't tell me the GOP has an overriding desire to replace the windows in Town Hall. I'm sorry - I don't believe that.

Anonymous said...

Cheshire ranks near the top in statewide standard tests despite being near bottom in per-student spending -- proof that students don't need all the bells & whistles to succeed.

The Council and BOE need to stick by their guns, cut spending, and do what we elected them to do last Nov.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is proposing to cut spending. The debate is about the priorities.

Anonymous said...

11:17
I ask you, why do we continue to have more teaching positions with less students?

Do you feel the impact of lessening the budget will dramatically change the way our students test?

DO I feel we need windows in town hall? I can't answer that since I haven't seen them work. Will it, in the long run save us money?

This is the time to tighten the belt and try to keep everything staus quo.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Florio said the cuts will come from administration first, not teachers.

I recall the 0% increase year he said many teachers will be laid off, 3 years later we had more teachers and less students.

Anonymous said...

11:25 I, like you, am not able to speak to whether we need to replace the windows in the Town Hall council chambers. I see, though, that you're willing to let people who know more about that issue decide what's best for the town. I wish you used the same logic when it comes to more important matters, such as the education of our children.

Tony Perugini said...

7:36 said "If nothing else it seems long past the time when the local BOE needs to stop pandering to and supporting what in this economy appears quite frivolous - - you know the never ending quest for an artificial turf playing field which could be used by hundreds of activities not directly associated with school day education requirements. You and all the BOE members need to focus on school day education issues so going forward our children can be assured of academic success in the coming years."

I agree with you 100%. I'm not on a quest for turf. That was started by the previous BOE but its up in the air in terms of whether or not its still supported by this BOE. I'm open to it but I don't fully understand the proposal namely long-term planning for it. For me, that project doesn't exist on my radar at this time. It's not accounted for in our budget proposal.

I'm requesting that we have the Turf Subcommittee give an update at an upcoming May BOE meeting. BTW, the turf sub-committee does not report into the BOE or the Town Council. So then, who does it report into? Maybe Tim White can track this one down.

Would I rather see the same effort, intensity and commitment put towards improving our math curriculum instead? YES I would. But there are some BOE members and administration that believes our curriculum needs little improvement. Some have gone so far as to say we don't have a math curriculum issue without studying it first. But there are parent surveys that indicate otherwise. Why aren't we shedding light on these surveys?

When Stephen Mrowka plays to the audience at BOE meetings by saying "spend baby spend!" (well, not exactly those words :-) but close ) without a plan it concerns me. Why is it that something like turf could be well organized but Stephen's proposal to invest more in science labs gets no attention? Where's the committee that will research costs and put together detailed plans for it? Let alone propose it?

But how much of the above was raised last night? Raising the mill rate won't address the above and that's the problem at hand not Schrumm, the EAC or other personalities. We have no plan and some folks did catch the plan issue last night.

- TP

Anonymous said...

11:35
Just in case you haven't noticed, I am.
That is why I am backing the BOE budget, but not Florios.
I trust the BOE will do the best they can in the interest of the students and the residents.
I know more about the the education system since I have children in it, so I am aware of what they are getting. I am not in the town hall looking at the windows. However, if I did go in there, I could make my own opinion on whether or not they needed to be replaced.

Anonymous said...

We have many seniors in town that live on fixed incomes. I'm glad that some here feel if they can't afford the increase in taxes they should just move. I would much rather have you move, I really don't think Cheshire is a better place with people like you. As far as the Dems and Reps budget not being different the Dems just take expenditures that have to be made and put them off until a later date. I personally would like to see the tax increase even less.

Anonymous said...

11:07.

What SHOULD be your fair share to pay? On what basis will you determine that? Why did YOU move here? What services do YOU demand for your tax dollar. What are YOU willing to sacrifice in the budget? Now when you answer these, ask yourself what should be fair NEXT year when revenue really drops off? We can't keep blaming the teachers and demanding their union pay for the shortfall. Next year there WILL be a tax increase above and beyond this year's.

Anonymous said...

For all the people, at last nights meeting, who are willing to pay more in taxes and are worried about their property values, I have a solution for you. Have the Assesors office take all the names and addresses of those people and increase their property values by say $50,000. You will have your high property value and contribute more($1325/yr) in taxes. You can adjust it lower or higher depending on how much your willing to give. This I believe is legal and would solve the problem.

Anonymous said...

1:10. Here's a ridiculous response to this very sarcastic remark- when this individual needs his road paved and it goes to referendum let only those people who live on that street pay for it. Get real-we live in a community and, as such, might not benefit from every budget decision, but as residents agree that it is our civic responsibility to support that which benefits the town as a whole.

Anonymous said...

What is missing the point here is we are bickering over 1% of the entire town's budget.

I can't understand how people will actually see our school system drop ans our propery value drop if we only raise the school budget by 1 1/2% this year.
Where is the logic?
Teachers won't stop teaching. Kids won't stop performing in musicals. The school band will still be one of the best. Our athletic teams will continue to compete. These things will not be stripped. It may cost the parents a little, but from what I heard last night, many want to pay more. So this will be their opportunity.
As 12:20 said, next year it will be worse, so we need to keep a tight budget now.

Anonymous said...

1:58 Take the budget to referendum. It would be interesting and finally be decided by all instead of a few.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of referrendum, Milone mentioned that it would cost $8,000 to $15,000 for a referrendum and 20% of the residents have to vote.

Then you have a genius get up there last night, after saying "RAISE MY TAXES", that based on the 200 to 300 people there last night, we should count that as a referendum. Something tells me that 200 to 300 (probably only half were registered voters) doesn't make the 20%.

Catherine said...

Some perspective: it is equally important to support our seniors (who have paid their share already) as young families with children in our public schools. It is in everyone's interest to protect property values, however that can be done. Certainly beyond our schools, our parks and open space are gems...however, it does seem that we're lacking a long-term strategy for what we want for Cheshire. Do we want to be strictly a bedroom community like old-school suburbs? Do we want more large businesses in town and, if so, how do we woo them? Do we want a more robust social atmosphere in town (shopping, dining, cultural activities, etc.)? How can the town planner help us with this?

I commend Mr. Milone for his excellent budget presentation last night. Knowing what's ahead of us is important--let's home that the BOE, Town Manager, and TC get together with the citizens of this town to SET CLEAR PRIORITIES, both short- and long-term, to be sure we are on the right track. Yes, these next few years may be painful, but if we have a clear plan we're all working toward then it won't seem so painful.

Tim/TC, some questions I should have asked last night had I been less emotional and better prepared:
1. How many homeowners in Cheshire use our schools, and how many children do they have?
2. How many non-homeowners use our schools?
3. Milone shared a figure of spending per child. Does every child, in fact, receive the same spending? I think not. Let's look at each SCHOOL and GRADE LEVEL and see how we are spending. If special education is taking up a large % of our budget, then let's plan for that--simply cutting teacher positions blindly would seem to short-change non-special needs children as we are LEGALLY and ethically obligated to provide a high level of services for learning disabled kids and cannot hope to cut costs there. Once we know how we need to spend money in each school and in each grade, we can agree on priorities with our remaining budget dollars and make sound decisions about future investments.
4. One reader mentioned "donations" for specific funding purposes from citizens. Considering how many people in town support charities and special interests such as turf, the arts, and sports, how do we organize a group to fund-raise for school subsidies? If every parent donated $1K we would be able to fund the schools. Perhaps the Townwide PTA needs to take on a bigger role here--but if they do, then parents deserve a stronger voice in the BOE. How can we think more creatively about ways to fund our shortfall? (Some students last night had some terrific ideas, such as ebooks.)

With regard to our schools and the funding challenges we're facing, I agree with the students last night who pointed out that we're looking at the budget backwards: we're voting for a dollar amount with no idea of the impact. I for one would like to see a line-by-line school budget (Tim, can you point me to it? I presume it's available for public review.) We can then determine where we can save, and where we need to invest; it's short-sighted to be voting on something without knowing the impact.

I look forward to a more productive discussion in the future. I hope that the town--and the TC--can come together to set priorities this year so that 2012 doesn't rain down more budget woes, which it surely will.

Anonymous said...

to 11:19am. Of course we have good testing scores. Did you know that Cheshire has a far higher % of gifted students than the statewide average? (Something like 20% more.) We count on these students--and on "teaching to the test"--to keep these scores high. High scores on standardized tests with a socioecomonic bias does NOT mean our children are getting a good education.

Anonymous said...

Face it, the union runs the school system, they run it badly and for thier own benefit.

Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear the union say they were interested in improving the educational system and really mean it? Wouldn't it be nice to think they really care about the students?You would expect a union of professionals would act like professionals and strive to continually improve the system, but the only things we see is continuing work to improve their pay and benefits.

The culprits are not the town council or the board of education, it's the union that really doesn't care about anything but themselves.

Derek Hayden said...

Restore Florio's budget for 2010/2011 and put all this energy into figuring out how to get through the next two years after that. I spoke to the TC Monday in favor of increasing the mill rate to cover this year, but I don't think a gaps in 2011 and 2012 should be approached the same way.

There is no rhyme or reason to the current BOE budget cuts, the increases are contractual obligations. Acting as if this could not be planned for is foolish. It was short sighted and arrogant of the BOE to assume concessions and to cut further on top of that out of spite is regrettable. Enough positions were lost last year, hold the line this year. Learn from this year's mistakes and make it better going forward.

In Cheshire, property values are highly dependent on the perception of an excellent education system. If that perception is lessened and home values continue to decline, property owners will be at risk of owing on a property more than it is worth. The recent revaluation is an indication of which way home values are going.

As home values decline, town revenue is impacted as the tax base is lessened. The solution - cut spending further or raise the mill rate. It becomes cyclical.

Also keep in mind the value of your home is important if you need to take an equity loan, refinance, etc - there are less (or more expensive) options available to those with impaired home/value ratios.

Even if you don't care about education, invest in the education system to protect your property investment.

For those who think people move in to Cheshire to educate their kids and then move out, you were not paying attention to the TC meeting. There were lifelong residents, residents who left and returned, 'empty nesters', and new residents all speaking in support of restoring the education budget. Even if someone did take that approach, it's a 13 year commitment to put someone through K-12 in the system, hardly someone coming in for a 'quick education fix'.

Cheshire's greatest asset is excellent education and the community that it builds. Invest in it.

Anonymous said...

PAY TO PLAY. this goes for ALL extras. Band, athletics, drama everything. This is all fluff. Charge 500.00 per child per programs. three sport athletes pay 1500.00 extra per year. Too bad. These extras are not part of the educational requirement. Allow the atheletes to drop Phys Ed since they are getting exercise during sports. Then cut a PE teacher due to the decreased enrollment in PE classes. Band is an elective, cut the program and the teacher. Make it an after school program just like athletics, and make the kids pay to play.....

Anonymous said...

3:54 Derek Hayden
There were 2 empty nesters (1 retired/1 still young enough to work) who spoke in favor. There were more seniors in that room who were groaning everytime someone got up and said to raise their taxes.

Don't try tainting it to make it sound like those without kids in the system are in favor of higher taxes.
They aren't.

Tell me what implications lowering the school budget this year will have on our property values this year?

In tough times, every community is doing it.

But not Cheshire, we want to pretend there isn't a bad economy.

Anonymous said...

3:31
So what you are saying is that only a few teachers are doing their job, yet we gave them a 4.4% increase?
Then who is to blame if you are saying that the gifted students are bringing up the test score averages?

That would concern me more than the budget.

Anonymous said...

The other piece to a referendum on the budget is that the result is advisory. Voters choose from 3 options...the budget is too low, too high, or fine as is. Council may adjust the budget based on the outcome. They can leave the budget as is, reduce it by a dollar or increase it by $1, $2 or 3.

Anonymous said...

Tony- - It is refreshing to hear even one BOE member state they are not on a quest for turf. It goes beyond turf too. I guess the current quest for town turf just highlights how disconnected those involved in education have made the education process today.

Based on the experiences of my children with our processes we have not always been impressed. From the expense for high school hall monitors to some really crummy math instruction to school administrators who do not communicate important facts and issues on a timely basis, what we pay seems wasted all too often.

This year's budget flap will not go away even if the board and the very loud parent minority demanding more and more money gets its way yet again. We all need to look around, there are some pretty major structural changes unfolding all around us. CT no longer seems to have much economic vibrancy left. From the north end mall that never seems to arrive complete with numerous low paying dead end jobs to the north end industrial park slowly but surely being depopulated of the kind of career levels jobs that skilled, education work force wants. Cheshire and most of CT is no longer a great destination for business.

Taxes are too high and just keep going up. On the education front it is painfully apparent to both colleges and business that many high school graduates including those from Cheshire are not ready to join either college classes or the workplace without lots of attention beyond what is reasonable.

Forking over more and more money annually to the local union needs to stop. But that's only a part of what needs to happen. The board and the town needs a new vision for the 21st century. The days of pandering to prospective high end home buyers by playing the school card is over. More and more people who have kids in K-12 and who have high incomes send their kids to private institutions. Look around, it is not hard to find families, many families where one or more child is off to any one of the private schools within a hour's drive of this town. Several families on this street have kids in private school who at one time were all in public school in town. These families seem to remain in their Cheshire homes but their kids no longer set foot in a town school. Why?

Tony, it is time for the BOE and its members to develop a new vision for the future, one that values the 3 R's way beyond the fun of football, band, plays, and fundraisers, one that connects kids to classrooms over the internet in and out of this town - - we need a VISION OF EDUCATION FOR THE 21st CENTURY. We need to bring costs back down in addition.

Local BOEs have become to education what the railroads became to transportation over the past 100 years.

Anonymous said...

5:00PM I applaud you! Common sense at last!!!!!

Tony Perugini said...

5pm you make good points in your post. Regarding unions...let me add that no matter what the TC does...even if they dare to give the BOE no increase it won't solve the union issues because those issues start and end with Hartford.

The last contract negotiation didn't go to arbitration for the fear of a 22-24% increase coming out of arbitration. We are fearful of trying to do the right thing folks and that's why we never go to arbitration.

The best way to resolve union issues is to vote out the elected dead weight in Hartford that simply doesn't get it. Beyond that, pitting local unions against education stakeholders does nothing as we're witnessing that right now.

"Tony, it is time for the BOE and its members to develop a new vision for the future, one that values the 3 R's way beyond the fun of football, band, plays, and fundraisers, one that connects kids to classrooms over the internet in and out of this town - - we need a VISION OF EDUCATION FOR THE 21st CENTURY. We need to bring costs back down in addition. "

Well said but how do we bring costs back down. 80% of the education budget is salaries/benefits. 20% is supplies and maintenance.

Student enrollment is dropping but we're talking 10's of students next school year, not hundreds and definitely not thousands. We have no detailed plans around implementing proven technologies that aid in classroom learning. We have various pilots here and there but they're in early stages of development. The "21st Century Classroom" is something Gerry Brittingham is trying to move forward and it goes beyond SmartBoards. Does anyone know what the "21st Century Classroom" is?

None of the above is budgeted not even in Dr. Florio's proposal. I said it before and I'll say it again but this school district has been polarized into controlling costs and has become afraid to make cases for investments. One of the former BOE members gave me a technology plan developed some time ago. When I asked how it was progressing, they laughed out loud and said it barely got started and stalled. Why? Why did the BOE decide to let it go? Coincidentally, it fell apart around the time the last union contract was negotiated.

Speaking of costs we're currently facing $10-12M in maintenance directly related to education mostly facilities, equipment, HVAC, etc. Some of these maintenance items reoccur every 10-12 years such as resealing and in some case re-roofing either parts or whole sections of roofs on our school buildings. These items are prioritized and tackled as get funding for them in our maintenance and capital non-recurring accounts. But we obviously can't budget the entire ~$10M or so every year.

In addition to the above, we were hit with $2M in State mandated upgrades to CHS last year. A Civil Rights Compliance audit was performance at CHS by Hartford. They identified numerous items in 'violation'. Some are rather simple, such as replacing knobs with levered door handles for Special needs and handicap access.

Others are frivolous such as the $400K to install an elevator to access the press box at CHS. We just responded to the audit and questioned many of the items raised. Regardless, we are on the hook to resolve them. This $2M is not in the Town Budget or Education Budget proposals. BTW, the State can randomly pick any school in Cheshire and perform as many audits as they see fit.

No doubt we'll need to start working on the $2M in remediation by 2012. Where is that $2M going to come from? How about the $10M of repairs waiting for us? Let's not forget about the known $3.5M shortfall in direct education funding for the 2011-2012 school year and $6.5M shortfall in 2012-2013.

I said this earlier but the basis of my recommendation for increasing the budget ~1.2M+ this year is not about the union.

We have real, serious financial hurdles to overcome.

Thanks,
Tony P

Bill said...

It may have started to become obvious; education may have to change their path to privately funded school systems. State mandates with revenue sources to pay for them is a joke and we as taxpayers should not accept them. It is possible to fund the Darcy school and elementary schools by private donations or on a tuition basis. Think about it. We are told the average cost to send a student to school in Cheshire is $11,000. I cannot believe the cost for Darcey student, elementary, makes no difference what school, Dodd or the high school is the same. we should ask what does it cost to run each school, then we as a concerned citizens can have a fruitful, honest, ope discussion on what it takes ti fund the school system.

Tony Perugini said...

"Think about it. We are told the average cost to send a student to school in Cheshire is $11,000."

Average cost per Cheshire student for the 2009-2010 school year is actually $12,257.00 ($59,450,563 / 4,850 students).

Based on the BOE budget proposal, the average cost per student for the 2010-2011 school year is $12,696 (~$60.7M / 4,781 students).

Per student spending actually goes up in 2010-2011 which is to be expected with a ~$1.2M budget increase and fewer students.

Of course, the per student spending will change depending on what we receive from the Town Council.

Anonymous said...

It's tough to be a teacher these days. It's very difficult to get by when you only get a 4.4% raise each year.

There are only about 40 teachers who make over $90,000 a year. One of them is a kindergarten teacher and I can just imagine how demanding her students are. Although some think $90,000 is a lot for a kindergaten teacher, we might find that some of these kids are probably doing college level work.

Anonymous said...

Tony
Perhaps you can explain why one poster is saying that Dr. Florio told them that the 4.4% increase is only costing us .4%?

Doesn't make sense to most of us here.

Is it fuzzy math?

Tony Perugini said...

10:17pm... I don't know what Dr. Florio is referring to. If the 2010-2011 Teacher's Salary increase only amounted to .4% then Schrumm would have little, if anything, to complain about. :-)

I'll ask Dr. Florio about this Thursday night.

Thanks.
- Tony P

Anonymous said...

7:58 Wow. You mean there are people who actual make $90,000 a year? Gee, golly, I've never met anyone who made all that money. And you mean there are teachers who make that much money??? Whoa...they're rich.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in East Haven.

Anonymous said...

How very very sad it is to read many of these posts.
We assume everyone who has children in town will up and leave immediately after they graduate? Do we have facts to support that? My parents still live in town and no longer have children in this home, neither does Tim's parents, or Mr. Slocum, or Mr. Schrumm. Do we assume Mr Ruoccoe and Mr. Sima are moving as soon as their kids graduate? If you move into town and live there for 13 plus years while your kids are in school and make friends and become part of the community, you immedaiately leave when they graduate? Every parent in town is taking advantage of Cheshire?
We ignore what everyone who went to the Public Hearing said because... what we know better? We know that they were put up to it because of those nasty teachers unions and Dr. Florio and not because they sincerly mean what they say? We think its great kids came and talked, but hey, they dont really understand so they shouldn't be listened to either? That is respect?
We say that people should make donations to support the schools? We have come to a time and place when education must operate on donations? Fumding our future, the people who will one day run this world is no longer a priority? It is not important enough to dip into the rainy day fund for?
And the rainy day fund is for... a rainy day? Wasn't it the republicans that tore apart the old council for saving the fund? Didn't they want checks mailed back to the taxpayers because, after all, it was surplus tax money? But now we change our opinion because we are in power and decide it should be kept in case Cheshire one day floods?
We point fingers, call each other names... we bicker and refuse to compromise, work together? What a great role model we are for the kids... but then they are forgotten in this whole sorry discussion anyway!

Anonymous said...

12:32
And what are you doing with that statement that is so above all the rest of us?

If you listened to many of the people who spoke last night, they are concerned about property values dropping if the school system doesn't get the money Dr. Florio wants.

If they are planning on staying long after their children are out of school, then perhaps they shouldn't be so concerned about values.
It is these same people who also say "the only reason people move to Cheshire is the education". They feel Cheshire has nothing more to offer.
Please correct if I am mis-stating what some of these people said.
It is also the same people who, in ealier posts, are telling us to move out of we can't afford to live here.
We are not saying that we can't afford to live here, what we are saying is we need to be fiscally responsible in a down economy, especially with a school system where the student numbers have declined.
And yes, a rainy day fund should be left for an emergency. We aren't saying to keep putting money into it, but we should have a 10% surplus. A budget shortage isn't an emergency.

So get off your high horse thinking that you are the only one talking sense here. It really doesn't sound like it.

Anonymous said...

Tim is it true that a member of the BOE was hired to paint town buildings without having to go out to bid? Isnt this a conflict?

Derek Hayden said...

April 06, 2010 10:17 PM & Tony

The 0.4 number is what was confirmed by Mr. Milone on Monday as the increase to the mill rate required to cover the difference between the proposed BOE budget (and TM request) and Dr. Florio’s budget. That number came out in response to a question I asked so I hope we were talking apples to apples.

The education funding gap is about $1 million and based on the mill rate formula, 0.4 would be the increase in the mill rate to cover the difference. 0.4 is not a percentage. The increase in the education budget requested by Dr. Florio over last year is 3.86% over last year.

The 4.4% number I believe is the contracted increase to teacher’s salaries in the current agreement. There is either an expectation that not all teachers will return (retirements, sabbaticals) and/or not all teacher’s are eligible for the increase due to lack of seniority. I am making a guess this is why the teacher salary line in the budget is at 3.52%, not 4.4%.

The current proposed mill rate increase is 0.65 over last year (2.5%). A straight add of an additional 0.4 mills would make the mill rate increase 1.05 or 4% over last year. Obviously, that is not going to fly so I hope the TC will be creative to restore education funding within the proposed town operating budget.

Disclaimer – I am by no means a CPA so the above is my best understanding of the situation based on the publicly available budget presentations.

Anonymous said...

The amount spent on teacher salaries last year was $27,442,726. The amount spent on teacher salaries this year is $27,546,647, an increase of .38%. These figures are from the superintendent's detailed budget report.

Anonymous said...

Derek,
Your efforts to understand the facts is admirable. I can't say the same for many others in these chats. What you said about the increase for teachers is correct. 3.52% is a prediction based on retirements, etc.

Tony Perugini said...

I'll be as blunt as I can...I think if there's anyone out there with an expectation that the TC will restore Dr. Florio's original proposal, let alone the BOE proposal, you're going to be extremely disappointed (more so) in the coming week.

While I think that the outpouring of support Monday night was great I doubt it made any dent in where this Town Council is taking the town budget. I hope I'm wrong but I'm expecting a ~$900K increase and not the ~$1.3M increase the BOE asked for.

Some possibilities on where the additional ~$461K in reductions will come from:

- Elimination/Reduction in funding for some athletic programs

- Reduction in Music, Band and other extra-curricular activities

- Elimination of CHS department head positions.

- Elimination of paid stipends.

- Additional support staff reductions.

We're still going to need an additional $3.5M next year to cover the reductions in fed/state funding. Does anyone think the TC will raise the mill rate next year to cover this shortfall, let alone meeting contractual obligations?

Unfortunately, looking forward, in detail, over the next 2 years was not discussed at all Monday night. We've got to think/react beyond this coming school year. I can't stress this enough.

- Tony Perugini

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Thank you for your honesty. Unfortunately there are many who prefer to look at things through rose colored glasses. The reality is we cannot fund the education budget they way they want. It will only make the shortfall worse next year.

Bill said...

The problem with using the rainy day fund is it would help for this year but going forward where does the money come from next year or the year after. If the request by the Supt was for capital items; a one time expenditure; then using the rainy day fund makes sense. But to fund an ongoing expenditure from a savings account, an account that has no chance of being resupplied; makes no sense.

Bill said...

The following information was extracted from Dr. Florio's budget as listed on the BOE website under account summary.

Certified staff salary for 09/10 is expected to be $31,105,518.

Projected certified staff salary for 10/11 is expected to be $32,199,880.

The difference is $1,094,362 or 3.52% increase.

The message is very clear, we a contractual obligation to the remaining teaching staff to pay the increase in their salaries as stipulated by the contract. The second portion is the medical benefits. The reality is we have an obligation between medical, certified and non-certified staff of about $1.7 million dollars. If the TC approves an increase of $1.7 mil that would pay the staff & medical but not support any other line item.

Anonymous said...

Bill,
I believe your figures include administrators. They are included in "certified staff." The post at 11:59 does not include administrators, only teachers.

Bill said...

8:07, you are correct I apologize for making an error. The increase for teachers only was 927k, 3.3%

Anonymous said...

What a previous poster stated was that the 4.4% increase was only in nreality costing us .4% due to retirees. That wasn't correct. It is raising our mill rate.4.

I ask what would the increase be if the teachers union gave back some?

It is all fuzzy math to make it look like the teachers are as greedy as they really are.

There will always be retirees, the bottom line is they still received a 4.4% increase, no matter how Florio trys to paint it.

Anonymous said...

Tony, Couldn't we also consider eliminating at least 1 of the vice principals at CHS? Maybe doing that would help preserve music/art programs that have a direct impact on the kids. And do you know the "savings" generated by closing Chapman School? Maybe that should be done sooner than later.
Thanks for your explanations here on Tim's blog. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Tony
Sorry to ask questions this way, but I know you monitor this blog.

You were mentioning some of the upgrades that had to be done based on Civil Rights Compliance.
Was Chapman school mentioned in that? It is not up to ADA standards. I am surprised it hasn't been adressed sooner.
I can't imagine what that may cost. It may force the school to close.

Tony Perugini said...

"Tony, Couldn't we also consider eliminating at least 1 of the vice principal at CHS? Maybe doing that would help preserve music/art programs that have a direct impact on the kids."

It's something to consider and I will ask about this tomorrow night. I think some support staff positions could be eliminated (Secretarial) in lieu of an Assistant Principal.

We have a new and very promising principal (Kevin Ryan) and I don't want to handicap his efforts. He gets curriculum and understands we need to address it, improve it, etc.

"And do you know the "savings" generated by closing Chapman School? Maybe that should be done sooner than later."

I don't know and to the best of my knowledge it hasn't been formally studied. I think that the BOE needs to form a committee to study utilization of our education buildings and what impact, if any, a school closure scenario would have on costs, among other things. I think the best way to diffuse the idea is to have the committee consist of BOE members, parents, non-parents, etc.

I don't think closing Chapman is realistic this coming school year. My position on this, without knowing about fully loaded costs associated with Chapman, is that closing it now means moving ~327 students to the other elementary schools. None of which has a lot of room to work with. Also, we'd need to bring some, if not all, teachers with them. So, what's left in potential cost savings is the overhead associated with the school building and personnel. Bus routes will need to be planned for and I expect bus transportation costs will increase.

Again, this is speculation at this point. But we need to study it...an unbiased study would either confirm the idea or kill it altogether. But it should be done because everyone that's either pro/con on the idea is operating on emotion, not facts.

And, I believe Dr. Florio will not consider closing Chapman even in a zero (no increase) budget.

"Thanks for your explanations here on Tim's blog. Much appreciated."

No problem. I wish I had more time to spend here. I wish my fellow BOE members would come here and chime in but the probability of that happening is about the same as our budget being increased 200% next week. :-)

Despite what some of my fellow BOE members think we DO need more communication with the public. We actually have a public information committee that does absolutely nothing. Seriously.

- Tony

Tony Perugini said...

"Tony
Sorry to ask questions this way, but I know you monitor this blog.

You were mentioning some of the upgrades that had to be done based on Civil Rights Compliance.
Was Chapman school mentioned in that? It is not up to ADA standards. I am surprised it hasn't been adressed sooner.
I can't imagine what that may cost. It may force the school to close."


The assessment was performed only at CHS. That's not to say the State can't come back and audit any of our other schools. This agency is pretty much a free-roaming, fully-empowered and untouchable agency.

As for the idea of closing Chapman I don't support it at this time.

Thanks,
- Tony

Anonymous said...

Tony
We appreciate your insight here and I am so happy that I voted for you. You seem to be genuinely concerned with making sure the students get the best education possible while keeping the costs under control. Thank you!

I do have a few questions:
What are the chances of the teachers union renegotiaitng their contract? Is it true that they fear Dave Schrumm going deeper intot the contract if they reopen it?

I also wonder why the superintendent continues to bring up that Cheshire ranks so low in cost per student, yet we rank high in test scores. We also continuously rank in the top 25% in terms of teacher salaries.
What that tells me is we pay our teachers quite well (despite the fact that we rank 96 out of 194 districts of teachers with Masters degrees-which is another issue),our students are learning and we are fiscally responsible.
What more can we ask for?

Anonymous said...

Tony - -

Maybe it's time to eliminate vice principals and replace them with secretaries. Some of what I see them doing wouldn't be done in the private business world by a remaining secretary let alone a high paid administrator.

Have their real job duties and responsibilities ever been studied in this town? How many hours per week are they in a class room face-to-face teaching our children? I hope the answer is not something like, oh, they are so important they don't have any time in their busy days for any actual teaching or oh, they are not qualified or certified to teach in the first place so - - -

Maybe it's time for the BOE to closely consider all the waste associated with paying full time rates for what is basically a part-time winter job with lots of vacations.

Right now we pay for a system which has at least 15 weeks of no face time with students each year. It would seem that if some or all of that 'wasted' time could be used for instruction many financial benefits could be realized for tax payers. On a best case basis the 13 year span for getting a high school diploma could be reduced by about almost 4 years.

In reality it would be less but saving even a year and a half should reduce expenditures figured on a per student life cycle basis. Just how much does Cheshire actually expend for someone receiving a high school diploma this June vs. say someone who received theirs in June of 2000?

The only downside to extending the teacher work year to a real year every year would be with the teachers union which no doubt would begin arguing that any changes to their part-time employment contracts with full time pay and benefits would require even more pay before they would actually work during summer months and during current school year vacation periods.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is a teacher in another CT school system. Her district eliminated all vice principals in the elementary schools. They give a few teachers a stipend to help in certain areas and the secretaries help with the rest. From what I understand we have a few vice principals in the high school, do we actually need this?

Anonymous said...

If you compare Mr. Schrumm's "fiscally responsible" budget with Mr. Ecke's, the difference is clear. His budget raises property taxes for the average household $94 and Mr. Ecke's $134. Woop-de-doo! A giant savings of $40. What is he going to do with that $40? Put new windows on the town hall and buy open space, which does nothing for the town. Meanwhile he is spending $865,000 less on education and using none of the rainy day fund, just to settle some political score. Sorry, but that is fiscally IRRESPONSIBLE and no amount of political rhetoric will cover up the smell. Next election: Dump Schrump!

Anonymous said...

Teacher salaries have been going up not just in Cheshire but in the whole state and region. Why? Because people in the Northeast and Midwest VALUE EDUCATION and are willing to pay for it. They want the future workforce to be educated to be ready for a competitive environment. In the deep south they have low taxes, terrible SAT scores, and poor employment prospects. Stop whining or go farm tobacco or catfish Bubba.

Tony Perugini said...

"We appreciate your insight here and I am so happy that I voted for you. You seem to be genuinely concerned with making sure the students get the best education possible while keeping the costs under control. Thank you!"

Thank you for the support. While I do listen to anyone that has something to say, at the end of the day, I cannot possible make every single person in this town happy. And while we may agree or disagree on my decisions at least you know what goes into those decisions. I try to be as honest as I can. And I will certainly be very open tonight on a number of issues related to this budget including the false statement made by Dr. Florio that the "BOE never outlined the reductions" which is simply not true. But I will delve into that this evening so it may be a moot argument at this time but does confirm that there are problems with this process.

"What are the chances of the teachers union renegotiaitng their contract?"

I don't know. I'm not directly involved in conversations with the union leadership. Although if anyone from the EAC wants to meet an discuss these issues I'd be happy to speak with them in a non-official capacity. I think if everyone at the bargaining comes clean, is honest and keeps the interest of our children's education at hand then I have to believe that yes something can be worked out.

"Is it true that they fear Dave Schrumm going deeper intot the contract if they reopen it?"

I don't know, I speculate that they don't necessarily fear Mr. Schrumm but fear the TC & BOE in general. Mr. Schrumm is NOT on the negotiating team it's actually made up of Tim Slocum, Dr. Florio and Gerry Brittingham.

But as for the contract being torn apart it's completely B.S. If you read the Herald today, specifically Dr. Florio's opine then you know exactly what we're looking for which is obviously not tearing apart the contract. We're trying to do the best we can to honor it and keep education at a high level. I think Dr. Florio's letter speaks for itself.

But I will certainly raise these questions/concerns this evening.

- tony

Anonymous said...

2:49 - -"Teacher salaries have been going up not just in Cheshire but in the whole state and region." Seems this proclamation misses a tiny whiny point, in some minds it's a nothing, really unimportant. Those who can still do simple math in their heads are not quite so casual about it. Face it, how many other towns in the northeast, or anywhere in America gave their unionized teachers a 15% pay raise recently? Answer, quite possible only Cheshire CT.

"...people in the Northeast and Midwest VALUE EDUCATION and are willing to pay for it. They want the future workforce to be educated to be ready for a competitive environment. In the deep south they have low taxes, terrible SAT scores, and poor employment prospects. Stop whining or go farm tobacco or catfish Bubba...."

It's pretty nasty and quite uneducated and very arrogant to make fun of farmers. Sure hope our greedy teachers union in no way supports such a nasty view of reality. There was a time not too long ago when almost everyone in towns here like Cheshire were farmers too. Why don't you make fun of them too. You and yours are just so wonderful. We are certainly lucky you live amongst you. Pity those poor southern farmers, especially the ones growing cat fish and pretending to be Bubba. After all, maybe the real Bubba is hear and posted the 2:49 comment.

OBTW, there are plenty of folks in the South and elsewhere who want the future workforce to be educated to be ready for a competitive environment. Of course down south today they aren't so much waiting for it to happen, it has already happened. Just how many cars which northerners like to buy are made down south vs. up north in Detroit anyway?

Maybe those of us watching the likes of Pratt & Whitney pull the plug on our industrial park should take a closer look at just what Bubba is really doing down on the cat fish farm.

Anonymous said...

2:49 - -"Teacher salaries have been going up not just in Cheshire but in the whole state and region."

So we value education, big deal? The south doesn't, the southwest doesn't? California has a 500 billion deficit, CT is in horrible shape, New York is about to crash. Meanwhile these places that value education, healthcare reform, etc. will continue to march into oblivian to satisfy union salary increases and unsustainable legacy costs? They can't and won't.

Look at Detroit...Union labor crushed it into oblivian but you can be sure they spent more per pupil than Cheshire does. And they're using the highly educated to tear down vacant houses in the thousands, redrawing their city limits and thinking about farming in the fallow fields. You think they'll consider unionizing the labor?

You education lovers are so full of yourselves you overlook the crap stains all over your arguements.

Education is great, its critical but its become over organized to the point where the only place left for unions to survive is in governent and then only as long as the rest of us dolts can stay calm, pay higher taxes and put off insurection.

How is it you are so inclined to tolerate the notion "my kids will suffer" and overlook the very fact that the Obama administration has turned us into a granny state and your kids future is already so bleak its scary. The Democrats should face it and rename their party "the Social Democrats".

I'm not ready to accept this new reality and I'm certain this will not stand because despite your high intelligence facter there are enough re-educated folks like me that won't stand up before the town council as so many of the man-girls did the other night brag "I'll pay more taxes" ... whatever it takes.

Anonymous said...

sounds like ALOT of miserable people should have considered their workplaces long ago. The teachers are over paid (WAAAHHHHH) I agree they make alot, and that the current raises are out of whack. However, they BARGAINED in good faith. gave up something for those raises. Also, the town council could have rejected those raises and did not. Lastly, how many of you who are bitching about "The state of the economy" have OFFERED to reduce your salary to help us all out. Im not talking about forced cuts which this town may be forced to do, just like in the private sector. Im walking about willing give backs. Any realtors reducing thier percentages, nurses or doctors reducing their portions from the insurance industry to help reduce insurance costs? How about IRS agents? reducing your salaries to help offset people struggling to pay thier taxes??? So please grab another box of tissues and quit whining. Nobody is offering to give anything back for the good of anybody, Its called the American way of living. I hope i can negotiate a 10 % raise for the next 20 years of my career, at least my family will be provided for.

Anonymous said...

6:13 If my 10-year-old fourth grader ever wrote something with so many spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, she would be grounded for life. Now fess up -- you were just goofing on everybody, right? You saw the irony in blasting people who favor spending more on education by submitting a comment filled with basic errors of English. That, my friend, is brilliant stuff. I bet it went over the heads of more than half the people who monitor this blog (you know who you are).

Anonymous said...

922, you ignorant ass. This is a blogsite, not a college essay. Review your own post and take note of the missing commas separating three or more concepts. Further, it would be grammatical not grammar you knob. Understand the function of a blog, or ask your forth grader as he/she seems to be the only educated person in your home. Where in my post did I say I was opposed to additional spending, point of fact, I am spending 20k plus for my children to attend private schools, as it is worth my money. My comments are to the whiners blaming unions for societal woes. Apparently my GRAMMATICAL deficiency is eclipsed only by your reading retention and understanding. Next time I will try to include pictures to help you.

Anonymous said...

"We are fearful of trying to do the right thing folks and that's why we never go to arbitration."

Check your history. This is the first contract that hasn't gone to arbitration in the last 4 to 5 settlements.

Anonymous said...

I see many posts regarding the teachers contract being negotiated in good faith and that they didn't go to arbitration. Guess what? They didn't go to arbitration because with the economy what it was and the offer that they got they saw the golden calf. The council and BOE members who were the idiots who OK'd the contract were voted out in the last election. I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

9:49 Um, no offense intended. I really thought you were making a point through irony. The kids enjoying Cedarhurst?

Anonymous said...

9:49 - -"My comments are to the whiners blaming unions for societal woes. Apparently my GRAMMATICAL deficiency is eclipsed only by your reading retention and understanding. Next time I will try to include pictures to help you."

You gotta be kidding, right? Municipal employee labors unions are a major part of the financial failure coming to a town or state near you. If you are a member of such a union no doubt you can right now play the smug smart person. If you are anybody else probably your are quite alarmed at the concepts of municipal employee labor unions which negotiate contracts under stupid binding arbitration rules with other groups of municipal employees who also may be in unions or who were previously in the unions.

This has all been legislated by some pretty cynical and poorly performing state legislators who for 30 or 40 years have been working OT to create a socially re-engineered utopia for state residents. It seems they have a pretty interesting concept in mind although it is a bit different than what the municipal union rank and file see.

Municipal employee labor union members think those ultra liberal CT legislatures who always have your votes are only out to help you. That couldn't be farther from the truth. They are only out to help themselves. Their long term plan is to maintain their personal power at everyone's expense.

Get ready for the next act, when the tax money can no longer support the ever more ridiculous annual wage increases for teachers.

Anonymous said...

9:49 I hate to interject, but your English lesson is slightly flawed. The poster didn't need another comma. Serial commas are only needed when there might be confusion without them. The sentence was clear without another comma.

While "grammatical" would also have been correct, the use of "grammar" in that sentence is appropriate. In fact, the poster used two other nouns, spelling and punctuation, as adjectives to modify "errors." The use of nouns as modifiers is common and fine. Indeed, it might have been awkward to use one adjective and two nouns as modifiers in a single sentence.

Anonymous said...

labor unions which negotiate contracts under stupid binding arbitration rules - take away arbitration and give the unions the right to strike. We can have our teachers strike, and let the kids stay home. The police can strike and we can pay the state police time and a half to cover the town . Arbitration is fair, ususally sides on behalf of the municipality, do some homework. Arbitrators are appointed by THE STATE, not unions. The findings are based on A) ability to pay, and B) competitive salary comparisons. This town has the ability and the job market dictates the competitive salary.
Grab your kleenex box and pay your taxes.
Sincerely, Union Labor Worker

union hater forever said...

all the unions will be privatized in the next several years it is already happening. i have taken several positions that used to be union and i do a better job for less money. i can live here in cheshire hopefully i soon will have your job.

Anonymous said...

1024 "The findings are based on A) ability to pay, and B) competitive salary comparisons. This town has the ability and the job market dictates the competitive salary.
Grab your kleenex box and pay your taxes.
Sincerely, Union Labor Worker"

Binding arbitration for municipal labor unions is a stupid, one sided, the tax payers always pay more approach to taxation. Look at the stats, binding arbitration always results in the workers always getting paid more, even if their performance is degrading or in some cases non-existent.

Concerns that without binding arbitration all tax payers would let their kids stay home when the schools were closed by the teachers striking is an interesting concern.

It makes one think, are there actually schools where binding arbitration is not a major aspect of the labor relations package used by those running the school? After thinking for quite some time about this very issue an answer appeared.

Yes in fact I can imagine and even find schools where the teaching staffs never strike, there are no greedy labor unions and the students do well. If the students cause problems beyond a couple of low key practical jokes they just get thrown out of school, end of discussion.

Funny, there are many private schools all over where there are no labor unions, no binding arbitration, and few if any disruptive students. And before we forget, the students have parents who are all mostly happy with the education their children are getting.

How come towns in CT don't allow parents to chose a private education institution over the public monopoly? All that would need to take place would be to provide a cash voucher to parents who place their kids in a private setting.

Of course it should be clear that greedy teachers unions, union members, and vote grubbing legislators will never allow cash vouchers to exist in CT because it would depopulate many public schools overnight. Along with the depopulation it would also create many good professional teaching jobs for any qualified unemployed teachers too.

Anonymous said...

"How come towns in CT don't allow parents to chose a private education institution over the public monopoly? All that would need to take place would be to provide a cash voucher to parents who place their kids in a private setting."

I always get a kick out of this argument - usually because it's made by people who say they favor a free marketplace and don't think government should subsidize any part of an individual's life.

What makes you think towns in CT don't allow parents to choose a private education? Tell that to parents with kids at Cheshire Academy.

You want the public to subsidize the education of kids in private school. Which, of course, would turn those schools into public institutions.

Anonymous said...

12:52
I agree that if the towns started giving tax breaks to those who send their kids to private schools, it will become a public school. WHat do you do with those who have no kids in the schools? DO you give them tax breaks too? You can't.
What I would question though, according the the Archdiocese of Hartford, it costs $4,755 to educate a student in a Catholic school. The average cost to educate a student in Cheshire public schools is $11,553.
Are those in Cheshire public schools getting a better education?
Not from what I can see. I laugh everytime I hear someone complain that Cheshire is 141st out of 166 school districts in spending per student. WHo cares, would our students do that much better if we were ranked in the top 10? Or would we just have more waste?

Imagine if St. Bridget's closed. What imapact would that have on the town?

Anonymous said...

"It's pretty nasty and quite uneducated and very arrogant to make fun of farmers. Sure hope our greedy teachers union in no way supports such a nasty view of reality." You missed the point entirely which was "In the deep south they have low taxes, terrible SAT scores, and poor employment prospects." They tried that keep taxes low and pay teachers low salaries mentality and where did it get them? The lowest SAT scores in the country and the inability to recruit highly qualified teachers. So the high school graduates are less able to compete for good jobs. Yes, farming is an honorable profession and many students study agriculture in college, but that should not be the only jobs the students can get. The gross ignorance of the "teachers make too much money" crowd creates a situation that only makes it harder for high school graduates to compete in this increasingly competitive world. Funny how you are so sensitive, yet so quick to label teachers greedy.

Eric T Cartman said...

Can't we all just get along?

Anonymous said...

If the title of this blog is accurate, maybe Mr. White can answer this question. Will any of the R's on the TC have the guts to propose an alternate budget proposal to Mr. Schrumm's? Perhaps claiming to be "fiscally responsible", yet leaving money in to put new windows in at Town Hall and buy up open space might make it obvious what all this is about; one man's gripe with the teachers' contract. It's hard to believe that using 1-2% of the rainy day fund will affect the bond rating and break the bank. Are you all joining Mr. Schrumm's "quest for ignorance?"

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone assume the Mr. Schrumm is the only person advocating for fiscal responsibility. The R's were elected because the town felt that they would hold spending down and that is what they should do. It's not only Schrumm but the TC as a whole.

Anonymous said...

"Why does everyone assume the Mr. Schrumm is the only person advocating for fiscal responsibility." ?
Fiscal responsibility? Is that what you call it? His proposed budget only raises property taxes $40 less than Mr. Ecke's. It's all about his quest to cripple our quality education system and trash our property values. Fiscally foolish.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mr. Schrumm. We don't need no lurnin' or all them smart folk with all there high falootin' ways and all there dang compuders and such. Let there yungins go back to the three r's ... reedin, ritin, rithmatick. We wuz just fine before they filled there heads about jobs and such.
Reegaurdz, Head of Local NDA, National Dullards Association

Anonymous said...

The town council also proposes cutting the town side of the budget. As for the BOE budget there is no reason that we cannot decrease the amount of teachers that we have. Our enrollment is declining and is projected to decline further in the next few years.

Anonymous said...

Enrollment has dropped slightly, but there are 17 fewer teachers than the year before and the proposed budget would cut another 15-20. Enrollemnt has not dropped by anywhere near that amount. The cuts are only affecting the quality of education. Somehow on the town side there is still money available to put new windows in at Town Hall and buy up open space. Fiscally responsible? What a big load of horse hockey!

Anonymous said...

Don't think 15 - 20 is correct. At the BoE meeting 4/8, Florio said is could be 10.25 teaching positions. He also said 4.75 at CHS could be absorbed and depending on retirements more could be made up there.
Of course, we all have to realize that the 60 million he ends up getting could be spent in any number of different ways. Don't assume there will be that many teachers let go.

Anonymous said...

Are the TC members willing to take a pay cut in the name of fiscal responsibility? You are being paid with our tax dollars, correct? I have been in the workforce for 35 years and have had a cost of living increase every single year for a wide variety of jobs. Yes, sometimes the increase was more, sometimes less, but to use the teachers as scapegoats because of a contract that was signed a year and a half ago seems quite disingenuous. Grow a spine and tell Mr. Schrumm to put his personal agenda aside for the good of the town. A $40 per household savings in property taxes with $865,000 less in education spending shows where his priorities lie. Do you really think the voters don't notice that?

Anonymous said...

"At the BoE meeting 4/8, Florio said is could be 10.25 teaching positions."
Is that based on the BOE/Milone budget or Schrumm's budget? My understanding is that most of the additional cuts that Schrumm is proposing will result in more teacher layoffs (which will also result in program cuts also).

tim white said...

You are being paid with our tax dollars, correct?

Incorrect. We get paid $0.00. And we pay out-of-pocket for our expenses.

Anonymous said...

In the past 5 years we have lost over 300 students, to me that is significant. When we were losing students we were adding teachers, why? Now we have to get real and get rid of the additional teachers that we have. It is also projected that we will lose more students going forward. Also the town council is a volunteer body and does not receive any pay.

Anonymous said...

2:35 PM

How is it you only notice the increase in your taxes? You are paying last years amount plus this increase in one new higher amount. Same goes for the budget...all of last years 95 million plus a million more.

Start working on your spine, neck and brain. We all shoulder the tax burden so don't speak for all of us when you instruct Schrumm to stand up for you. Town Council members have to represent all taxpayers not only emotion laden folks like you that blindly underestimate your children's ability to deal and cope with slightly larger class sizes or the reduction in some class subject offerings. The enrollment is down 300 in the last several years. It is declining still further. No it is not an evenly distributed difference so many calculations must go into the BOE as it adapts to the structural changes that are coming.

Stop the tears and be part of contributing to the solution, which is usually not just more money thrown at a system.

Many Cheshire residents are sounding like spoiled children than parents that are supposed to lead by example. How did they grow up to be so wonderful? Everything was handed to them, every budgetary decision they were a party to was perfect for them? Of course it wasn't. And they still managed to move into OZ.

Anonymous said...

Most people here have missed a very important part of this process. The whole budget process is a projection of income and expenses. Nothing is guaranteed. The State could give us less (or nothing the way they are going) and the taxes could not be paid by the taxpayers at the current rate. The only thing we can count on is our savings(rainy day fund) which is $8-9M. This amount will pay our bills for a month or so. When people get up and talk about not giving the money to the BOE or the Town budgets, what do they mean? Where is the money? This is a hopeful plan which is thoughfully put together with the hope that everybody pays us(taxpayers & state). We have no money to speak of. We have been fortunate that the tax collection rate has been good. Let's look at this and pray that things work out the way the TC and BOE predicted. It's an educated guess. Let's make it work...

Anonymous said...

3:33, lots of luck. Let's say the town squeaks through this year with whatever cut is finally made and with however many positions being eliminated. Wonderful we make it through this year. We still have an impending train wreck unfolding before us.

The smart money is betting that next year and the year after will be way tougher then this year is turning out to be.

If we don't make some deep cuts in the next few weeks during this current budget process how will we ever get through this process next year?

Anonymous said...

"The smart money is betting that next year and the year after will be way tougher then this year is turning out to be."
Actually that is Mr. Schrumm's prediction. Since he was one of the people who was in on the planning of the town pool, let's just say that I don't have much confidence in his ability to accurately predict the future. Current economic indicators suggest that the worst is behind us and that wall street firms and the banking industry (who were hit the most) are starting to hire again. I don't we should listen to chicken little and lock away all of the $8.7 million of the rainy day fund.

Anonymous said...

"The enrollment is down 300 in the last several years. It is declining still further. No it is not an evenly distributed difference so many calculations must go into the BOE as it adapts to the structural changes that are coming."
From what I have heard most of the decrease is at the elementary level and spread out over 4 schools. If the long term plan is to close Chapman (closing it short term would be crazy), then maybe the first step is for kids that were scheduled to go from Darcey to Chapman (and 1st grade teachers) should now go to Highland.

Anonymous said...

"Incorrect. We get paid $0.00. And we pay out-of-pocket for our expenses."
Whew, I feel better. To think that you might get paid to act like mindless lemmings following Mr. Schrumm leading the town over the cliff. Have any of the R's on the TC stopped to think that maybe he has gone overboard with his proposed cuts and is leading you to your doom?

Anonymous said...

" Have any of the R's on the TC stopped to think that maybe he has gone overboard with his proposed cuts and is leading you to your doom?"
We will find out Tuesday night. If it's a 7-2 vote without further debate or alternate proposals, it will be painfully clear that the answer is NO.

Anonymous said...

When a budget is first proposed the TM and BOE always ask for more. Everybody comes out of the woodwork and get all excited and bash the TC and BOE members (elected volunteers). The budget is adjusted and passed. The Town moves foward and the teachers get big raises. We have had a surplus the last several years and tax increases. Why is that? I think the taxpayers voted for tax relief last Nov. and all the TC and BOE members are doing is the same old thing RAISING TAXES. This year we could use a break. No increase..

Anonymous said...

9:01
I think many of you who are against these cuts will eventually find out that you are in the minority.
You all showed up at the TC meeting and I am sure it made you all feel good that there were 200 people in that room who agreed with you. The reality is, there are 29,000 residents in this town and I think you will find out that the majority want these cuts and approve of what the TC is doing.

If we don't make the cuts now, it will only get worse.

Anonymous said...

"A $40 per household savings in property taxes with $865,000 less in education spending shows where his priorities lie. Do you really think the voters don't notice that?"

I have noticed and I'm glad that we're likely not going to follow Ecke's suggestion of using another 1/2 million (in addition to Milone's 600K) from the fund balance acct.
The Boe will be getting nearly a million more. We can't use the fund balance account to cover recurring expenses.
I think the town council is thinking about the issues facing us now AND down the road.

Anonymous said...

"I think many of you who are against these cuts will eventually find out that you are in the minority."
Yes, they were in the minority in the last election, which was an off-year election with low turn out. The overflow crowd at the TC the other night barely scratched the surface. Now that the people see what they are stuck with when they don't turn out, they are more motivated to than ever to vote the education-haters out.

Anonymous said...

9:53
And 2011 will be an off year election too....38% of the locals will vote. Obama's vat taxes to support the then 2 years away healthcare package will have hit, inflation will be raging, the middle class tax cuts extended by the hated Bush administration will have expired and by then the man in your man-girl pants may be showing more rage about a government that has done more harm to your children than anyone locally would have dared.

Be a grown-up. Stop fighting for higher union salary demands. Use your head not your emotions. Care for your kids...help them with their homework. Cut out an extra activity, which you as child could never have balanced with everything else you were expected to do. You have to take a deep breath. You're giving your kids everything you think you never had. Look where you live...not so bad...you made it here. The trouble is you're over achieving for your kids. Love them, hug them and help teach them that a little less can be more. Its not fun, its not easy but its not bad at all.

Anonymous said...

11:23
Well said!!

For some reason, these parents think they are the majority. They come to a TC meeting and bash the entire town by saying that the only reason they moved to Cheshire was for the education. They say CHeshire has nothing else to offer, so I assume they will be gone as soon as we educate their children.
The ones who push for the higher taxes are the ones with 2 or 3 kids in the school system. They pay an average of $5900 a year in taxes and we educate their children at a cost of $11,500 each. Of course they don't care if we have to pay more each year, they are still getting a very good product at a bargain price.

Anonymous said...

11:23 Nothing in your incoherent rambling made any sense at all. Man-girl pants? What in the heck are you talking about? A bit of fashion advice, go get fitted for a straight-jacket because you are one step away. The reason we are in this economic mess is the 8 years of Bushonomics. His "middle class" tax cuts were really for the wealthy. They got thousands, we got pennies. Deficit spending, wars costing billions, companies moving overseas, banks crashing because he was asleep at the wheel. All thanks to Bush. Get your head out of the sand.

Anonymous said...

"For some reason, these parents think they are the majority."

No, they think they are entitled. Case in point. A parent from Chipping Stone CT has been very vocal and critical of the town council and BOE this past week. Given the reductions to the education budget I really don't blame her. She's the head of the Chapman PTA. She was quite vocal at Monday night's meeting (often getting up repeatedly to berate the same point) but she also appeared at Thurs night's BOE meeting.

She slammed the BOE for not providing enough timely information. When Massey described the various meetings and what was discussed she complained that she didn't know about the meetings.

Massey asked her how many BOE of meetings she has attended this year. Guess what the answer was?

Thursday night was her her first BOE meeting...Peter went on to describe the 12 or so BOE meetings starting back in December that discussed the budget. Beyond the actual meetings, he laid out the fact that meeting minutes are posted, agendas are posted, the meeting are taped and televised on TV, etc. not to mention the BOE members are available around the clock. Besides shock and awe attempts Massey made the point that it's always been an issue for the BOE to get people to attend the meetings but the information is always available.

But this was not enough for her. Recall she's also one of the parents that will gladly pay more with checkbook in hand. She continued to criticize the BOE and further stated that she doesn't have the time to attend the meetings because of her busy schedule. She believes she is entitled much more attention from the BOE.

For the record, she lives in 7,600 s.f. house complete with an indoor swimming pool.

Now I ask you, how many folks can actually relate to her? Is this the average house in Cheshire? Is this the average parent in Cheshire?

Entitlement...it's what's for breakfast in Cheshire.

Anonymous said...

If folks were more like Rob Daly...we'd have this budget problem licked in no time. He was the only person that spoke openly and honestly (without emotion) last week (BOE Meeting) and told it like it is. THANK YOU Rob for being honest. I wish more parents were like you!

Anonymous said...

"They say CHeshire has nothing else to offer, so I assume they will be gone as soon as we educate their children."
Saying that you moved to Cheshire because of the schools is not the same thing as saying Cheshire has nothing else to offer. The families who live in family sized homes and have multiple vehicles make up a big portion of the property taxes. If some move away when their kids are grown up, who do you think is going to buy their houses? More families genius, unless Schrumm gets his way and suceeds in reducing the quality of the education to the level of our neighboring towns, then there they will choose another town. Cheshire is a great town, but it is no coincidence that it has a great school system also. They go hand in hand. Cutting the education budget will only hurt the entire town in the long run.

Anonymous said...

"who do you think is going to buy their houses more families". It's the homes with no children that make money for the town. As was stated earlier it costs approx. $12,000 to educate a child in Cheshire and the average taxpayer is paying $6,000 in taxes. You do the math, if we only had homes with children the town would be bankrupt. The town needs families to stay after their children are educated to pay for the new families that move in. A large percentage of the families that were here when my children were in school have moved out of Cheshire. Once their children are educated they move to cheaper places to live. I have no problem funding education but I do have a problem with a teachers union that is unwilling to make any sacrifices when the town really needs them to. I also have a problem with the BOE increasing the number of teachers when enrollment is declining. I pay taxes but I will not pay taxes blindly for education or anything else when my money is not being spent wisely.

Anonymous said...

" It's the homes with no children that make money for the town." I think your forgetting the businesses, who pay a lot of the taxes in this town. Perhaps we need to encourage more business to locate here instead of spending tax money buying up open space (see Schrumm's budget).

Anonymous said...

" $12,000 to educate a child in Cheshire and the average taxpayer is paying $6,000 in taxes."
A good portion of the $12,000 goes to buiding maintenance. All of the school buidings are used 7 days a week and evenings for Park & Rec, community organizations, and Adult Ed, so it's not just for children. Yes the average tax payer might pay $6,000 but the people with family sized homes and multiple vehicles pay more and the small homes with one or no vehicles pay alot less.

Anonymous said...

Did it ever occur to you that a family of 4 or 5 spends alot of money in the town stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc., and that those businesses pay property taxes to the town? How much does a single retiree with no vehicle spend? There is alot more to the town economy than your myopic view takes into account.

Anonymous said...

If you have a family of four or five that would assume that 2 or 3 are children. At $12,000 per student that would equate to $24,000 to $36,000 for education costs. A retiree pays an average of $6,000 in property taxes, are you actually going to say that this family spends approx. $18 to $30 thousand per year more than the retiree in local stores? GIVE ME A BREAK!

Anonymous said...

The "average" retiree does not pay $6,000 a year in property taxes. That figure is totally inaccurate. The average family pays alot more than $6,000. There are many grandparents who live in town who don't mind paying a little more for their grandchildren to get a quality education. If you bothered to ask them they would tell you to shut up and pay your taxes.

Anonymous said...

My mother-in-law is one of those retirees that you are talking about. She pays $2200 a year in property taxes and has no vehicle. She spends a little money at the grocery and pharmacy. Yes, she would gladly spend $40 more for her grandkids to have a good education, and yes she wishes the education haters would clam up. As she always says, "if you don't have anything good to say, then don't say anything".

Anonymous said...

There are very few grandparents who's children can afford to live in Cheshire. Also I don't undertstand where the term "education haters" comes from for people who want nothing more than to keep their taxes at a resonable limit. The average increase for this is year is projected to be $155 that for some people is alot of money. The problem for all these parents who believe no cost is too high is that every year the taxes are going up between $100 and $200 a year that at some point becomes unsustainable for many people. If people want to spend more on education there is nothing stopping them from writing a check to the Town of Cheshire with the understanding that it will be put towards education.

Anonymous said...

" Also I don't undertstand where the term "education haters" comes from for people who want nothing more than to keep their taxes at a resonable limit." If you look at Mr Schrumm's budget carefully it will only save you $40 in property taxes, but preserve spending on new windows for Town Hall and buying open space. His budget also spends $865,000 less on education than Mr. Ecke's budget. Is it any wonder that parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or any other supporters of education are upset with putting education as the lowest priority?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ecke's budget only puts off things that have to be done to a later date. Anyone that has been to a town hall meeting knows that most of the windows have signs that read "do not open window broken". I also agree with Mr. Schrumm when he says that you do not fund budget shortfalls with shortterm revenue streams. If we use the rainy day fund now it will be gone and cannot be replaced. For anyone watching the budget process it is very obvious that if you think cuts were made this year that you didn't like wait for next year. We have stimulus money that was used for education this year that will be gone next year. Where is this money going to come from? Everyone in this town has to wake up and realize things are BAD! Cheshire is not the only town experiencing this read the papers.

Anonymous said...

Ecke can say whatever he wants and apparently is by trying to say he'll spend more on education. Of course he's trying to buy some votes for the next election. His suggestion is to use 1/2 million from the fund balance account. Even Milone says it's not a good idea.
Remember it was Ecke and his buddies that pushed for a turf grant. That was their pet project. Not a good use of our state tax dollars and although the turf is not in this budget, the costs associated with it (maintenance, repairs, replacement) will be in future Boe budgets. So what will it be then? Use our tax dollars to repair and maintain the turf field or use them towards education?

Anonymous said...

"If we use the rainy day fund now it will be gone and cannot be replaced." Mr. Ecke's budget would use <6% of the $8.7 million rainy day fund. If we use good young teachers they will be gone and cannot be replaced. If our students lose opportunities they will be gone and cannot be replaced. Mr. Schrumm brought us the town pool fiasco. He's doing to us again. When will people learn?

Anonymous said...

They have learned. They voted last Nov and voted out everyone that just said "yes" to all the budgets the last four years. This is not to say that everyone is against education etc. We have to live within our means and I believe getting almost a million more than last year in this economy with no Town growth is fair.

Anonymous said...

Clearly it is time to cut the BOE budget. It is time to lay off some teachers. It is time to lay off some staff and it is time to lay off some administrators.

It is time for the town to insure that the BOE focuses all its energy, all its time and all its resources on one thing - - education of the town's children. Secondary uses of school facilities and school staff need to be better controlled or just eliminated.

Anonymous said...

11:40 AM
When I stated that these people said Cheshire has nothing more to offer then education, I was almost directly quoting the president of the Chapman PTA, who someone else already mentioned in this blog.
Last Monday, she got op and said what other reason do people move to this town if not the education. She then joked the restaurants? The stores? Basically taking a dig at businesses that have been in this town and continue to contribute to this town.
She then made the ridiculous statement "if you don't spend it on education, then what will you spend it on"?

Hello?? WE DON'T HAVE IT!!

She needs to do her homework before she starts spouting off.

By the way, I consider myself an average resident. I pay %5,900 a year in taxes for my home. We have 2 cars hat we pay an additional $800 in taxes on. I have 2 children in the education system.
Yet, I want fiscal responsibility and that starts with making difficult cuts into the budget.

I teach my children at home that school is important, but the leaning continues at home. My wife and I spend time working with them on their school work and they are both straight A students. They are learning in this system.
Will if be different if they cut the budget? No...We will continue to spend the time working with them.

Anonymous said...

"Clearly it is time to cut the BOE budget. It is time to lay off some teachers. It is time to lay off some staff and it is time to lay off some administrators.

It is time for the town to insure that the BOE focuses all its energy, all its time and all its resources on one thing - - education of the town's children. Secondary uses of school facilities and school staff need to be better controlled or just eliminated."
OK Mr. Schrumm there is no need to post as "Anonymous". We all recognize your demented train of thought.

Anonymous said...

11:39 - - clearly, many people in this town believe we are past due for a significant change in the trajectory of spending associated with local education. That is the issue, an important issue. Trivializing the issue by attempting to paint one individual in this town as having a "...demented train of thought..." speaks more of your twisted sense of reality then anything else.

Education is important but so is everything else in life. Sacred cow public sector jobs have for too long been untouchable in terms of unwarranted annual salary/benefits growth while productivity at best remains constant or as is currently the case productivity begins to decline.

I am one of very many town residents who believes it is time to reign in the town education budget, now. And no, I am not this SChrumm guy so many of you whine and complain about. How did you elect him in the first place if he is so very bad - - -?? I am not even a Republican.

Anonymous said...

"And no, I am not this SChrumm guy so many of you whine and complain about. How did you elect him in the first place if he is so very bad - - -??" Very good question. Well he was voted out once before, but I guess the people in his district have very short memories and there was poor voter turnout. Apparently, the $950,000 cut proposed by the BOE wasn't enough for him. He had to tack on another $365,000 cut and how much did it save us in property taxes? $40 per household, oh happy day! Meanwhile he does not want to touch the $8.7 million rainy day fund. Property taxes are one thing, but he was not elected on a mandate to preserve the rainy day fund at the expense of education. If families start leaving the businesses will follow. Good luck subsidizing the town pool with retirees and DINKS taxes.

Anonymous said...

4:21
I believe Dave chose not to run, it wasn't that he was voted out of office.
He was elected this term to give us some fiscal responsibility.
Tell me how that additional $365,000 that he is proposing to cut will affect the education of our children?
He was 100% right when he stated that we don't use our rainy day fund to make up a budget defecit. If we did that every year, we would be in major trouble.
What will we do next year? Take out $1 million?
The following year take out $1.25 million?
How do we keep money in that fund in case of a catastrophe like what happened in Warwick, RI?

Anonymous said...

"Tell me how that additional $365,000 that he is proposing to cut will affect the education of our children?"
I believe the BOE has already outlined that. More teacher layoffs, program cuts in sports, music, etc. More cutbacks in supplies. That means bigger classes sizes for all kids and courses eliminated at the high school. Graduates will have a harder time being accepted into colleges and competing for good jobs.
"How do we keep money in that fund in case of a catastrophe like what happened in Warwick, RI?" If you had followed the news you would know that state and federal money was sent to help the town. We have $8.7 million in the fund. $500,000 is less than 6% of that. Good ol' Dave is WRONG. What he calls "fiscal responsibility" is just his misguided personal agenda, not what's best for the towns future.

Anonymous said...

5:50
Well take this to the bank, Dave Schrumm and the town council majority will see to it the education budget gets a $927,000 increase over last year. As for fed. gov't aid for disasters...thats not charity, its taxpayers helping relieve the stress and in amount far less than the real cost to all the victims of this natural disaster. The state of CT made 2% low interest loans availble to Eastern CT residents for disaster relief...where is the free money in that equation?

Since when has everything been perfect in your world? You had better adjust because the state of affairs is very different now all across the country. Class size is not the way most rational people calculate disaster relief. This budget is not the disaster you fear it is. The problems are real and the town has to face them head on. We'll survive and so will your kids.

Anonymous said...

5:50 ok, give it up Mikey..don't worry, you might still get your turf.

Anonymous said...

"Class size is not the way most rational people calculate disaster relief. This budget is not the disaster you fear it is." Your fear of some natural disaster is getting in the way of rational thought. We are talking about real students and parents, real teachers, custodians, secretaries losing their jobs. Real futures with lost opportunities.

Anonymous said...

Look around. Every town is having the same problems. What makes anyone think Cheshire is different?

Next year we will have even bigger problems when the stimulus money is gone.

Some residents, like Jim who spoke at the last boe meeting, aren't worried about next year. That's not good planning.

Thank you to our town council who are trying to work out a very difficult budget and have a much better understanding of the budget than all the residents who are just now getting involved.

Anonymous said...

5:50
"Graduates will have a harder time being accepted into colleges and competing for good jobs.
The secoind stupidst thing said here was that we can depend on government aid if a catastrophe hit Cheshire. What if it wasn't quite a catastrophe, but we had a major issue with a building that needed to be addressed. Not a major catastrphe where federal aid was needed, but something we needed to repair immeditaley?? If we don't have the rainy day fund, where do we go?
A fiscally responsible town will keep 10% of their budget in a rainy day fund for these sort of issues.
You didn't answer my question, what do we do next year and the following year when the TC doesn't agree with the superintendent's budget? Keep taking from the rainy day fund?
Before you know we will have nothing left.

Why not ask the superintendent to sharpen his pencil and figure out how he will survive with "only" a $1 million increase. Perhaps he can start with some of the wasted administrators we have.
It is unfortunate that we have a teacher's union who refuses to negotiate and instead puts the blame on our BOE and TC. These are the same people that no matter how bad they are at their position, if they are tenured, they have no worries about losing their jobs, yet the young, hungry teachers will not get the opportunity to grow in this town. It's all about GREED!

Anonymous said...

"Look around. Every town is having the same problems. What makes anyone think Cheshire is different?"
What makes Cheshire different is the quality school system. The neighboring towns don't come close. At least for now. Keep laying off teachers and staff and that won't last, not that some on the TC care. Those who think they know exactly what the state of the economy will be next year are speculating. If they were psychic they would have gotten rich in the stock market years ago. The rainy day fund was built up over years when times were good. Using a small portion of it this year will not break the bank.

Anonymous said...

11:58

Yes it will. Surplus make a rainy day fund. Do you see any of those on your rose colored horizons?

Anonymous said...

11:58
You can't really be serious with your ridiculous comments.

Realistically, how many teaching positions will be eliminated? From what I heard, very few. It will be more of the adminsitrative staff, which we can afford to lose a few of them.

In your opinion, you feel the rainy day fund is there to use when you want to give more money to specific departments when the TC feels there should be cuts instead. That makes no sense and you don't need to be an economist to see that.

Do you recall the year we had a 0% increase in the education budget? Florio talked about losing teachers and the education system getting worse. How did that turn out? 3 years later we had more teachers and less students.

Florio likes to throw out figures, his favorite is that Cheshire ranks 141 out of 166, when in fact that is over a 3 year period. We actually rank 136. And we are not that different from other towns that people like to compare us to like Guilford and Glastonbury.
He can make the numbers look anyway he wants, the bottom line is where are our children testing? Are they learning? Will that change if we only give them a $1 million increase this year?

Reality said...

Reducing the education budget is LONG PAST DUE. My only regret is that it hasn't been reduced enough. Based on what the TC is saying, the budget will still go up $927K. At the very least, it should be zero...give the BOE the same budget they have this year and force them to make it work.

If you want to contribute more to education you can simply write a check to the Cheshire Education Foundation. No need to leech off of the many taxpayers that simply don't want to spend more on education. the coming school year. We have other priorities in town in need of attention. Education has had more than it's fair share of attention.

As for the greed-driven property values...are you for real? I can only imagine that those too concerned with property values are the same people that overextended their credit and contributed to the sub-prime mess we're all paying for. So your property value dropped, your LTV ratio increased and now your lender(s) are calling in your 2nd, 3rd mortgage and/or HELOC? Stupid is as stupid does. Spending more won't solve your financial problems.

There are another 135 school districts that would love to spend your money...move.

Derek Hayden said...

The 927K increase over 2009/2010 that is seemingly what will be proposed/approved by the TC for 2010/2011 was explained by TC member Andrew Falvey at Thursday’s BOE meeting. This increase was arrived at by the TC Budget Committee as fixed costs that needed to be added to the 2009/2010 budget for anticipated increases to ‘non-negotiable’ items such as student transportation, student outplacement, utilities, and medical benefits. The TC Budget Committee did not make any allowances for increases to salary accounts, effectively a 0% increase in that portion of the education budget. Given that a known 4.4% increase for next year is in the teacher’s contract and given the reasoning by Mr. Falvey, it seems clear to me that the TC has no intention of recognizing this contract. There are certain members within the TC with a vindictive agenda that they are imposing against the teacher’s union.

I thank Mr. Falvey for attending various meetings and trying to explain the TC position in arriving at the education budget. He made repeated assurances that ‘nothing is final’ with regard to the education budget and encouraged parents to attend TC meetings to voice their concerns. At this point in the process, I feel that he is being disingenuous and that the decision to not increase the education budget for salaries was made on November 4, 2009 when the town election results became final.

The ‘process’ of the Superintendent’s budget proposal, the Board of Education’s subsequent reduced budget proposal, and the Town Manager’s support of the BOE budget proposal has been a charade. I predict the Town Council will impose its will on the education budget tonight to settle personal and political scores.

Anonymous said...

11:46 - "There are certain members within the TC with a vindictive agenda that they are imposing against the teacher’s union"

A vindictive agenda could be exactly the phrase to use in describing the greedy teachers union contract and their apparent unwillingness to step up to the plate with sorely needed cuts to what may well be the highest pay increase for any school district in America, i.e. ~ 15%

And one could also go as far as to opine that the superintendents office and its budget is an annual exercise in a vindictive budeting agenda exercise. It long ago turned into a shell game where the office works OT to hide piles of money in so many places its hard to make sense of what really is needed to run the schools. After all they always get more $$ then they can easily spend, each and every year.

Maybe a few years of budget decreases would actually result in town school children learning a bit about the realities of the economic system we live under too. Under current circumstances the TC seems to be quite generous in their budget proposal. Next year they will need to be even tougher on the big spending town departments as the economy continues to stagnate.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Look around. Every town is having the same problems. What makes anyone think Cheshire is different?"
What makes Cheshire different is the quality school system. The neighboring towns don't come close.

And you know exactly what's going on in neighboring towns...yeah, right. Funny how I just read that Southington residents say the same thing, "we moved here for the schools."

And stop saying the tc has a vendetta. Times are tough everywhere and next year they'll be worse. If you want to keep spending more as Ecke wants, you'll be worse off next year trying to meet your expenses and your fund balance account will be heading down the toilet. Thankfully the majority on the council realize that every expense has to be scrutinized. Giving the boe nearly 1 million more should be more than adequate.

Anonymous said...

"And you know exactly what's going on in neighboring towns...yeah, right." Take a visit to Hamden high. The 1st person you will meet is the security guard (one at every door). Look at all the neighboring towns test scores, look at how many kids get accepted to good colleges. Yes, I do know what is going on in other towns. I have friends in all of them. You never bothered to look because you have your head buried in the sand.

Anonymous said...

We have a TC member telling us that we need to hold on to 100% of the surplus fund "in case we have a flood like the Warwick, RI". Hello, they are in a flood plane, Cheshire is not. Should we start hurricane and earthquake funds because Cal and Fla have had disasters? Maybe we should start a meteor and a tsunami fund! Using <6% of the fund would leave >94% of the fund. Even if we get hit by some freak storm, we will still be OK. We have our our natural disaster, it called the town pool. A sinkhole sucking the money from all of us.

Anonymous said...

"Realistically, how many teaching positions will be eliminated? From what I heard, very few. It will be more of the adminsitrative staff, which we can afford to lose a few of them." I guess you didn't attend the last BOE meeting. They gave a very detailed account of what will happen if Scrumm's budget passes as is. Layoff of 17 teachers, 2 custodians, 1 secretary, 1-2 instructional assistants, 0 administrators. In addition, cuts in supplies such as textbooks, cuts in sports, music, Adademically Gifted Program,and on and on. I guess it doesn't matter to you, it's "only" the kids' futures.

Anonymous said...

"what may well be the highest pay increase for any school district in America, i.e. ~ 15%" I don't know where you learned math, but 4.4% x 3 = 13.2%. Yes, some of the less senior teachers (that didn't already get laid off) got a 4.4% pay raise per year. Go ahead a check, there are many towns in CT that had similar pay raises. Maybe the union would be more willing to negotiate if Schrumm would stop bragging about how he will not listen to parents. He is not helping the situation.

Anonymous said...

Has any one considered the businesses in town that are supported in large part by FAMILIES? The businesses pay property taxes to the town. How will they fare if families start leaving to towns that don't place education below open space, new windows for town hall, and a "disaster" fund?

Anonymous said...

When was the last teacher laid-off in Cheshire? Don't fall for the propaganda that gets thrown out every budget season.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a lawyer, but I am fimiliar with union negotiations with large corporations. The first thing unions want to know is the impact on jobs. It seems like the first step in negotiating would be to earmark any money from concessions to go directly to school staffing (teachers, custodians, admin staff). I think Mr. White proposed that some money from "promisory days" would go to a medical fund. I guess it didn't go very far, but at least he tried to come up with an alternate avenue instead of posturing and throwing out inflammatory comments. If the teachers think the money from concessions will just go into the general fund to subsidize things like the town pool, is it any wonder that they have hesitated to volunteer for that?

Anonymous said...

"If the teachers think the money from concessions will just go into the general fund to subsidize things like the town pool, is it any wonder that they have hesitated to volunteer for that?"

You're as clueless as the EAC's legal representation. The contract is between the EAC and BOE...not the EAC and TC. As such any concessions, givebacks, etc. is negotiated and impacts the BOE budget not the general fund. CHS graduate are ya'?

Anonymous said...

"CHS graduate are ya'?"
Spoken from a true scholar.

The teachers' contract was negotiated in good faith without arbitration. The TC now is mad that the then BOE agreed to it. Some counselors, including Schrumm, have openly expressed their hatred of teachers and the negotiation system. There is zero respect for teachers and their contract. Is it any wonder why they aren't waiting in line to renegotiate?

Anonymous said...

5:03 "I don't know where you learned math, but 4.4% x 3 = 13.2%"

Go ponder a bit. Was it 4.4%/year x3 years or was it more like the first year a salary of say 1 goes up by a factor of 1.044. The next year the 1.044 goes up another 1.044 and the third year it goes up again by another 1.044. Now that doesn't look at all like 4.4x3. It looks more like 1.044 cubed if anything. Of course who knows what goes on in the rarefied atmosphere surrounding union labor negotiations and who has actually seen the full contract any any salary tables generated by it.

And go ahead name just 1 school district anywhere in America which received a pay raise as fat as what Cheshire is on the hook for.

Anonymous said...

4:37
You must be kidding me.
You actually think they are going to lay off 17 teachers?
I have some swamp land I would like to sell you.
I heard the same BS when there was a 0% increase and it never came to fruition.
I wish we could lay off some teachers.
The enrollment is also scheduled to drop by 80 or sos students, so that should be good enough to lose 3 teachers at the very least.
If you want your kids futures to be successful, then you, as a parent, should spend more time with them. Kids do not learn everything in school, it starts atr home.
Do me a favor, try to teach yours not to be as gullible as you are or they will fall into many traps.

Anonymous said...

7:34
"There is zero respect for teachers and their contract."

Spoken like a true teacher!!

Teachers need to earn the respect that they wish for.
The previous BOE & TC voted for the contract because they were afraid to go to arbitration.

It is up to this TC to right that wrong. If the teachers won't negotiate, then they will need to deal with the cuts that are presented to them.

Anonymous said...

"And go ahead name just 1 school district anywhere in America which received a pay raise as fat as what Cheshire is on the hook for." I believe someone at the last TC meeting named 6-7 towns surrounding us that have had a bigger increase in education expenses than Cheshire. Actually, I think Madison was the only one that didn't.

Anonymous said...

9:38
The question was "pay raises", not budget increases.

Anonymous said...

Madison has a mill rate of 18.6. How do they do it? They have no Queen St or industrial parks. Maybe we should ask them to share their secret. Madison taxpayers get the "best" bang for their tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that some of the teacher's threatened to sue the union if the contract is opened up. If there any teachers on here, can you verify this and also explain the reasons for a potential lawsuit?

Thx.

Anonymous said...

"The contract is between the EAC and BOE...not the EAC and TC. As such any concessions, givebacks, etc. is negotiated and impacts the BOE budget not the general fund." Mr. Falvey explained rather carefully that the R's on the TC figured how much to allocate to the BOE to cover ONLY operating expenses such as transportation, medical benefits, and utilities. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that they specifically left out funds to cover contracted salaries. So if you are implying that the general fund and education budgets have no connection,sorry I'm not buying it. If the TC saw that the BOE budget was suddenly smaller, Schrumm would be the first to say, "see, you don't need as much money" and next years' education budget would "magically" become smaller. Duh.

Anonymous said...

Negotiated in good faith?

Funny how Pratt & Whitney workers negotiated in good faith yet last year were forced to take 5 unpaid furlough days and another 5 in this current year. And promises of no layoffs - of course there's no promise. Look at all the Cheshire workers who will be out of a job when the contract is up. And how about the people already laid off in East Hartford.

There should be a shared sacrafice in all of our town unions. And if they have to do it two years in a row, then so be it. That's what's happening in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Ecke said he wasn't "playing to the audience"....hahahaha

Anonymous said...

Funny how the supposed "majority" that support Scrumm's budget was noticeably absent and silent. There may have been enough fools to vote for the TC R's in an off year election, but it will not happen again. The next two elections will send a message load and clear.

Anonymous said...

"Madison has a mill rate of 18.6. How do they do it? They have no Queen St or industrial parks. Maybe we should ask them to share their secret." Easy, they don't have our town pool, they have a beach.

December 6, 2011 said...

Vote for a change in town council, November 2011.

Anonymous said...

11:32
WHY?
They are saving this town money in the midst of a terrible economy.
I say re-elect!

Anonymous said...

"WHY?
They are saving this town money in the midst of a terrible economy.
I say re-elect!"

Agreed! Re-elect!!!!

Anonymous said...

We have a pond that we can't maintain. One pool does not equate to an 8 mill difference. 8 mill is a huge amount.