Quest also on chopping block

The superintendent is offering the Board of Education lots of ways to slice Quest from the budget. It could whack a teacher or two, or it could ax Middle School Quest, or it could lop off Elementary School Quest. I guess we should be grateful he didn’t urge tossing the Quest kids out on the street to save a few more bucks.

Really, this is perhaps the most important test of all for our town leaders. If we don’t provide the gifted and talented students with the opportunity to shine that Quest provides, then what are we? As a town, we have a special responsibility to our best and brightest. What kind of message do we send to our rising stars — and to househunting families — if we pare or eliminate the showcase program for our highest achieving students?



Filed under Board of Education, education, Quest, referendum, Schools, town council, West Hartford

34 responses to “Quest also on chopping block

  1. Joe Visconti

    The message we send to our rising stars is this: Your school programs may be trimmed or slashed because that’s how it is in the real world when our elected officials at the Federal, State and Municipal levels play politics with your parents educational tax money.

  2. Oh, that’s funny, because I think the message they’re getting is that old people don’t give a damn about their education.

  3. Joe Visconti

    If the children are getting that message it must be because they are hearing it from the Education Cartel mules like you.

  4. On the contrary, they know that people like you are more determined to hold down taxes than they are to pay for needed programs.

  5. EJ

    I guess there may be a difference of opinion on what might be a needed program.
    And it would seem that to the BOE Administration is more important than “needed” programs.

    You think maybe they could make do with one VP/750 students instead of 50o. just 1 thought.

    Part of the problem is the BOE thinks that they are entitled to anything that they ask for (demand).

  6. Joe Visconti

    “Determined to hold down taxes”, now that’s a novel idea!

  7. turtle

    Still waiting for the WHTA bloggers to produce a list of superfluous administrators.

  8. EJ

    Love that response Turtle.
    Perhaps if the BOE released a list it might be possible.
    Perhaps if the BOE released a coherent budget the same would be possible

  9. Joe Visconti


    I will be looking for you tonight at the Board of Ed meeting. Give me a grin so I’ll know it’s you.
    As for a list of cuts, that’s not the job of the Taxpayers group, although not a member anymore. When I was a member and attended meetings with then president Phil Meister carrying the torch, he never practiced telling the Board where to cut. it must be some kind of Mission Statement thing.

    If you read below it looks like the taxpayers group got started 5 years after the Union formed.

    Union Mission:
    The West Hartford Education Association (WHEA) is the professional organization and union for the teaching staff of West Hartford public schools. We have been working for West Hartford’s future since 1928. The WHEA is dedicated to the advancement of West Hartford’s public school teachers, children and school system.

    Taxpayers Group Mission:
    Welcome To The West Hartford Taxpayers Association Web Site

    Our Organization Was Founded In 1933 To Monitor The Running And Management Of West Hartford’s Town Government

    We Are An Association Dedicated To Proposition That Town Government Can Be Operated Efficiently To Provide Needed Services At A Fair Cost To The Citizens Of West Hartford

    We Are Offering This Web Site As A Place Where People Can Get Information About How Well West Hartford Is Working, Exchange Information, Educate Themselves About Local Issues And Engage In A Lively Discussion About The Future Of West Hartford

    Please Join Us In This Endeavor

    Lively discussions R us!!!!!

  10. Yes let’s pick on “the old people” they surely don’t give a damn..

    Whdad.. there were lots of “young people” who signed the petitions… there are young families who are struggling here. Why can you not recognize and admit that? Choosing programs over the people who want to live in West Hartford?? Is that where we are now?

    You folks just love to pit the “old people” against the “young people” in this town. It’s so much easier than to force the administration to deal with making due with what they have.

    Maybe you ought to wonder why “old people” must downsize and be pushed out of their homes while no downsizing is required in our schools budget.
    Shame on you. A woman whop has lived in this town and supported the schools for 40 years is now faced with leaving the home she loves… and you say she doesn’t care??? Is this so Conard can hire back a principal as a consultant for 145K after he’s retired AND receiving benefits!! while programs like Quest are killed? (As if they cannot run a Quest program or other programs on a smaller budget). Blame those bonehead decisions on the administration, not on the “old people” who just want to be able to afford to continue to live where they live.

    But no, the administration always seem to throw out the baby with the bathwater to scare everyone into financing everything the administration wants. And yes, that is called extortion.

    I’d like to see them streamline office procedures, cut down on how much paper they send home, save money on printing and copying. Reduce office and clerical costs, reduce spending on travel and conferences, mileage, membership dues for professional organizations, reduce overtime costs and temporary services. Why do we spend so much on substitute teachers? Are our full time employees skipping school for valid reasons?
    I mean c’mon guys – there is so much that can be looked at before they start cutting good programs like Quest.

    But it is easier to cut stuff like Quest – get parents pissed off at “old people” and then get what the dollars you demand in the end. It’s the same game plan they have used for years.

  11. My family is a struggling young family. I know as well as anyone how hard it is to find more money to pay more taxes. I find the money — by shortchanging retirement accounts, putting off vacations and much, much more — because paying for schools is more important.
    It would not surprise me at all if somewhere down the line, I can’t afford to live in West Hartford either. If that happens, I’ll move, with sadness. But I will always support what the schools need, no matter what the sacrifice.

  12. Harry Captain

    WH is NOT hiring “back a principal as a consultant for 145K”.
    WH is NOT putting lights on it’s fields.
    WH is NOT funding buses for flexible high school start times.

    85/169 in per pupil spending.
    Salaries, benefits, utilities, and student needs all up.
    A 4.25% budget increase while most districts are funding at 6%+.

    This is not a game. $1.842 million is significant and you can’t get there by reducing paper clips.

    Public hearing tonight, 7:30, in the Legislative Chamber at Town Hall. I hope you can make it.

  13. Oh, sure, just cut the line item for staples and paper clips, eliminate the daily Starbucks-for-all-administrators allocation and take away the taxpayer-funded Porsches for the curriculum specialists and then we’re all set.

  14. turtle

    Could it be that Judy is demagoguing the issues?!!

    I am shocked!

  15. Joe Visconti


    This is not a game, well you could have fooled me (don’t say it). The public see’s this whole thing as game playing, especially:

    1.Binding Arbitration playing like “Twister”
    2.The Council playing “Battleship” with the school side of the budget.
    3.The Media playing “Spin the Bottle” with ommiting to include in their education articles the real issue of how the failures of ECS got us here.
    4.The Teachers Union playing hopscotch with all the steps for pay.

    more to come…..

  16. Joe Visconti


  17. Joe,
    Even if we accept your argument that the problem is rooted in binding arbitration and ECS funding shortages, there’s nothing we can do about either right now. And we need to make a decision about the school budget right now.
    It’s silly to point to long-term solutions (I’m granting, for argument’s sake, that your ideas are solutions) when we face a short-term decision.

  18. EJ

    If the State is convinced we can survive without the ECS $$$, and that WH can get them elsewhere, we will nevere see those $$$$.

    Would someone please explain why if the State is nearing a $2billion surplus they can’t take care of the revenue sharing $$$.

  19. Every town in the state believes it’s been shortchanged. They’re all probably right.
    But it’s a pipe dream to think substantial amounts of extra cash are going to pour into West Hartford, of all places, when the needs are so much greater in nearly all the cities in Connecticut.

  20. EJ

    Then I guess we go for the cuts

  21. Cutting the school budget is the same thing as slicing away your home value. It’s counterproductive.

  22. Joe Visconti

    The answer is the State must Unmandate until fully funding, if we do not think long term now we never will.

    Trim/cut/woodchip this school budget as you were told!

  23. Beth Bye

    The Town Council counted an additional 3.5 million dollars from the State in ECS funding. so state dollars are up significantly in the Town’s projections.

  24. Joe Visconti


    and what amount are we shorted this year?

  25. Harry – yes I agree this is not a game.. people are having to sell their homes ! Life changing moves to new towns and away from everything familiar. It’s bone crushingly sad.

    Tell us again how the principal who is retiring is not being hired back for 145K..

    Harry, I appreciate your comments about “how well we are doing in comparison to other towns” but the reality is we are spending too much and there are inefficiencies and places to trim this budget without hacking off an arm. You of all people should know.. so why is “special allocation” going up 127.47%? Why are conferences and meetings going up $70,000? If you guys are going to spend so much in compensation then I guess you’ll have to cut programs.. I don’t think you can have both ways anymore. And I will tell you that being 85/169 is not such a hot track record. Education is getting $118 Million Harry… tell me that’s not enough!!!

    Whdad – you are not the only one having to give up vacations and dinners out and putting into your retirement! If we are all downsizing – then why can’t the schools and municipal programs do the same? Why are we asked to pull in the belt buckle so someone else can get $3 co-pays and go on trips to conferences and have their mileage paid for?

    Turtle – demagogue this….

  26. Beth.. and how realistic are their projections? I really wanna know what you think.
    What happens when we get shortchanged again?
    Of course, we’ll have to find that money somewhere in the budget – so why can’t we find that money now?

  27. Beth Bye

    Right now the budget is not finalized.

    All versions (Governor and Appropriations) have removed the cap — which was the mechanism that was responsible for WH being shorted.

    And, in total, the current appropriations budget has increased aid to Cities and Towns by 30 million dollars more than the Governor’s proposal.

    This investment of funding to Towns is in recognition of the fact that the local property tax burden in CT is too high.

  28. turtle

    Turtle – demagogue this….

    Girl, did your mama raise you in a barn?

  29. turtle

    OK, I’ll do it:

    Thanks, Ms. Bye!

  30. When will Joe Visconti and Judy Aron run out of crocodile tears and misinformation. Based on their own stated beliefs and priorities, any budget for education touched by either of them would be slash and burn. After all, it was Judy who joined that national right-wing petition drive urging that public funds for education be cut and Joe who talks about being “a terrorist from the inside.” Maybe they will ask the Governor when she comes to their Republican fundraiser why her proposed budget in net aid to West Hartford was worse than the one adopted by the State Legislature. And please, there is not one single shred of credible evidence that people are fleeing West Hartford – quite the opposite.

    Now, all that said, the Town Council did freeze the pay of top management. Maybe it’s time for the Superintendent and other top managers in the school system to announce that they will turn back their pay increases in order to help protect Quest.

  31. EJ

    Yeah Kevin, and the BOE came out with budget cuts to scare parents by cutting programs.

    As soon as the referendum was over they magically found $500K for the final balancing act, started giving raises that may be hard to support and then hire more administrators (some for positions that never had administrators).

    Ya think maybe the BOE was looking for an excuse to cut the Quest Program?!

  32. As I exit the blog until after Election Day (all candidates and candidate spouses should do so or the “dialogue” will soon become mostly just a bunch of ill-disguised political pitches) let me clarify one thing from my last post. I believe our Town Manager and the other top municipal managers as well as the school system managers below the level of Superintendent are worth what we pay them. After all, they are an important part of why our community continues to be the exception to the rule of declining inner ring suburbs and, in fact, the envy of the state. It’s just that this was the year to ask for a small sacrifice (compensation freeze) to match our sacrifice as property taxpayers faced with a frugal local budget but state-mandated revaluation.

    And now, I leave us all in the loving hands of “Joe-blowmomentum” and the other Republican pseudo-bloggers.

  33. Joe Visconti

    Hey Kevin

    Taking your marbles and going home? Come on now, this is Modern Politics and an open forum for residents to jump on with their questions for Candidates.
    If we leave it up to The League of Women Voters and their stale watered down questions in the debates the public will miss the opportunity to really get to know the Candidates and their views on many subjects.
    Oh and by the way the State of Connecticut Elections Enforcement Department told me that website content is not regulated by them (yet), don’t know if blogs pertain but I will give them a call this morning.
    Bon Voyage El Capitan

  34. Mary

    Quest did nothing for my daughter but put her to sleep. She actually opted out of Quest in the Middle School years. I never quite believed in Quest to be honest.

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