Shame on West Hartford’s council

The last-minute decision to wipe out $1.8 million in school spending without public debate is atrocious, from any perspective.

First off, major policy shifts such as slicing into education should be the result of careful, public deliberations, not the result of panic at a looming tax hike. The eight town council members who went along with this deserve our scorn for their refusal to let us all in on the secret before they took an ax to the school spending plan that had already been carved down carefully by the Board of Education.

But more important is that we have now, as a community, chosen to put less money into our schools than we know they need.

Superintendent David Sklarz told reporters that the reduction could mean larger classes, fewer teachers and other hits to classroom education.

No doubt.

If there’s $1.8 million worth of fat in the school budget, then by all means cut it. And fire the officials who gave us this spending plan to begin with.

I strongly doubt there’s much to be saved without targeting all kinds of necessary programs and services for our students.

Even worse, this fly-by-night decision sends an awful message to everybody: that we don’t care enough about education to make sure it’s fully funded.

Once we start down that road, we’re doomed.

I find it detestable that town council members did this without prior notice and without giving us any better reason that it made this year’s tax hike a little lower.

Our schools are the pride of this town. Our council, I’m afraid, is nothing to brag about. 

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6 Comments

Filed under budget, education, poliitics, Property taxes, referendum, Schools, Taxes, West Hartford

6 responses to “Shame on West Hartford’s council

  1. By the way, Barbara Carpenter’s abstention on the budget vote is all the proof anyone should need that she should have resigned when she won the union presidency. It’s ridiculous that she did not vote yes or no because she didn’t know the impact on the schools. Neither did anyone else, Barbara! That’s why they should have ALL voted no.

  2. Joe Visconti

    Whdad- The Council does have some of it’s finest meet with the Board of Education players and has much more info about where 1.8 million can come from than we are told.
    You are correct about setting a precedent. It was inevitable do to the apathy of our Town Government as a whole which hasn’t pushed hard enough at the State level for covering most of the Educational Underfunded Mandates.
    Forget the referendums they are irrelevant, now is the time for all those with or without children in the school system to storm the State Capitol together demanding our fair share of ECS and part of what the state owe’s us over the past 5 years.
    Talk about phase in, let’s make them phase in our ECS refund which stands at over 30 plus million.
    Can you hear it? We want our ECS Money! When do we want it? We want it Now!

  3. quigleywh

    whdad,

    After reading this post and some of your other blog posts, I have to say I don’t necessarily agree with you on a lot. This town council is terrible. Fine, Slifka and his friends have the majority and all that comes with it…what makes things worse is the fact that Barbara Carpenter and Joe Verrengia and their best buds.

    I say cut the fat….get Barbara off the council…she is a disgrace to this community. She’s in this just to keep trying to get to the LOB. I’ll tell you who really cares about this town on the council – Sinatro, um, Cantor, er………yep, that’s about it. The rest of them are there to serve Mr. Sullivan’s agenda.

    You want to know what this council cares about? Dare I bring up Blue Back Square? Guess what…1.8 million to the schools in this town is a drop in the bucket…you want to talk about what will doom this town (and this metro area) ? How about all of these developments that are filling this area with retail…let’s see…we will go from having Eastern Mountain Sports and something else in Canton to serve the outdoor-people in us to having LLBean, REI and Cabellas within 15 miles…Are we kidding ourselves?

    This kind of development in this many close areas is ridiculous. The taxes of this town will rise way sharper than 10 or 20% over the next few years…Let’s see what it costs us when BBS starts going downhill and the town council will have to bail it out. This town council has set up this town for complete ruin.

    1.8 million is absolutely insignificant to anything right now. I’m happy you can afford to continue to pay – not everyone can…nice of you to think of the common good.

  4. Ryan

    Quigley, please feel free to go back to your own blog. Unless I’m mistaken, there’s a lot less traffic over there, a quiet nice place for your to listen to your own rants.

    WHDad, keep it up.

  5. I am quite sure that my ability to pay is far less than the town’s norm. But the common good demands high quality schools more than anything else. Ultimately, everyone who owns a home here benefits because our schools continue to attract people to move here.
    I’m sure I am not alone in recognizing that the vast majority of the money I’ve made in the past six or seven years came from increased equity in my home. Our schools are the biggest reason for that jump in value.

  6. WHDad, whoever you are, thanks for doing this blog. I’m glad I came across it, which was entirely by accident.

    On the issue of public notice, I do think West Hartford could do better. I for one would like to real agendas posted and announced, via the town’s list serv, before meetings of the council, boards and commissions. By “real” agendas, I mean agendas with specifics of what will be addressed, not just some boilerplate document. This is good practice for any organization, but it’s especially important for the governed to know the business of its government.

    Same for minutes. Take good ones, post them promptly and announce via the list serv that they are available.

    Let list serv subscribers choose to receive agendas and minutes from a menu of boards and commissions, along the lines of what the town of Enfield does (see http://www.enfield-ct.gov/content/3271/default.aspx ).

    West Hartford’s website and list serv are pretty good compared to other towns’, but there’s still room for improvement, and that’s certainly so in the public notice category.

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