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CTA To Circulate Petition To Overturn Morgan School Referendum Vote

"300 signatures are required to prompt a new referendum to overturn a previous referendum"

 

A message from the Clinton Taxpayers Association:

The Clinton Taxpayers Association (CTA) announces a petition initiative to overturn the referendum that passed for a new Morgan High School on April 11. 

Under provisions of Clinton’s Town Charter, 300 signatures are required to prompt a new referendum to overturn a previous referendum.  The precedent for this was set in 1991 when a referendum passed in the previous year to build a new school in Clinton was overturned in a subsequent referendum.

The referendum held on April 11, passed narrowly by 40 votes out of 4,076 votes cast and at a time when many seasonal residents were away. 

Pam Fritz, president of the CTA observed, “The CTA’s Morgan School Task Force carefully studied the Building Committee’s proposal for a new Morgan School and objectively determined that it was not in the best interest of Clinton taxpayers to spend this sum of money to replace the current building at this time.  We are grateful to the 2,018 voters who agreed with those findings and voted no on April 11. ” 

Pam Fritz continued, "The Clinton Town Charter provides for a petition to overturn a referendum.  This referendum was so closely contested at a time when many taxpayers had not returned for the season, that it warrants using this provision to assure a truly democratic result."

Len Fried, the Task Force Chair reported,  “While we would all like to see Clinton have a new school, it is not the most cost effective solution, and with the highest mill rate on the shoreline already, Clinton simply can’t afford it.”

Taxpayers who wish to sign the petition can request a circulator to come to them by making this request at:  www.gocta.org/Guestbook.php.

Steve Bristol April 25, 2012 at 02:02 PM
For those not wanting to read all of both articles, an excerpt from the first Hartford Courant article The high school is nearly 60 years old, was last renovated in 1994 and lacks an adequate library, science labs and sufficient classrooms. It also has inefficient mechanical systems. A recent review by a regional school accreditation organization concluded that the school's programs are adequate, but the school needs improvement to meet federal laws requiring unimpeded access to people with disabilities. The project was first discussed in 2008 but plans were tabled when the recession choked municipal and national finances. There was talk at one time of building a new school but it was decided to seek renovation instead, as the state's reimbursemernt rate is better for upgrading an existing building. The project, if approved, would begin in 2013, finish in 2016 and be done in phases to minimize disruption of classes.
Steve Bristol April 25, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Scotty We have sports fields so, if there are still school sports, they have places to play. Of course, as we push further towards the politically correct competition is bad, or wrapping our kids in bubblewrap, who would want to play? Community theaters like at WSAM or The Kate (in Old Saybrook)? It all may be an exaggeration but it really isn't as far-fetched as one might think.
Leah Saunders April 25, 2012 at 02:52 PM
What you didn't mention from the article Steve is the first paragraph.... Voters will decide Tuesday whether to approve a $75 million renovation of the town's aging, outdated high school. The state is expected to shoulder $30 million of the cost, so the burden to town taxpayers would be $45 million. The planned project would renovate Wethersfield High School to "as new" condition. What this says to me is that their 60yr old building with much of the same issues as ours was going to be $75 million to "renovate like new"....state share is $30 mil...town share...$45mil... WE are going to build a NEW school for $64.75 mil and have the state reimburse us $19mil and town share will be $45 mil...within the same time frame...the numbers are quite telling to me. We also have the added sale of the old property for future tax revenue. I think our town has made the right decision in deciding to build new.
Steve Bristol April 25, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Leah I'm glad you responded as you did. I think the comparisons are compelling. First of all, their reimbursement rate is different from ours. More importantly, you fail to mention that our 'renovate as new' cost for the same size as 'new' was quoted by Chairman VECE at $49Million, not $60 and surely not $64.75+ . They could even go a bit larger and still save a ton. Make a FAIR and HONEST comparison, not the one the MBC and New Future/New Morgan want you to make. The reimbursement rate for our renovate as new is quite a bit larger than our reimbursement for new....so NOWHERE NEAR a $45 million cost to Clinton taxpayers. That's been one of my biggest arguments all along--let's make honest comparisons. Aging and outdated does NOT mean structurally unsound-in either case. In any case, renovate as new--at a MUCH lower $ amount--takes care of any of those issues. Please be honest with the people. It's only fair to them. Steve
Jay April 25, 2012 at 05:58 PM
An "inadequate school library" ? What do we need a school library when across the street is a massive, just built/renovated library? Talk about waste. We have to start breaking "old habits" and quick. Libraries are going the way of papyrus, clay tablets and velum. The internet provides more range and accuracy than 95% of the info in any library. Their technology is obsolete - and I am not talking about the Free computers that are providing with our tax money. Storing info on paper is expensive - and most of the books in a library do not move off the shelves.. Librarians learned the trick of competing with book and video years stores by buying ,with tax money, the latest books and videos and lending them Free - Why? Most are entertainment and do not tell me that there are many research books - yes,there are and seldom consulted or read. In fact if books were discarded on a usage basis you would see 90% gone. The fact is libraries are for time wasters and poseurs and a dodge to avoid paying for personal services. Schools also have moved from education to essentially tax paid day care. From 8am to 5pm children are cared for by the town so parents can both go and work to earn the money needed for their "life style" and passing the cost and trouble of raising their children onto the tax payers. Why?
Leah Saunders April 25, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Jay...last time I checked parents are ALSO taxpayers...and are you suggesting we get rid of our library? Good grief people...
Jim Braun April 25, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Ummm yeah the library comment was taken by Clemson from an article about WETHERSFIELD. I may be wrong on this, but a rant against libraries precipitated from reading a post wrong lessens the impact of the argument.
Scotty April 25, 2012 at 06:32 PM
"The fact is libraries are for time wasters and poseurs and a dodge to avoid paying for personal services." LOL, really? That seems just a tad opinionated rather than fact. "From 8am to 5pm children are cared for by the town so parents can both go and work to earn the money needed for their "life style" and passing the cost and trouble of raising their children onto the tax payers." Oh wow. School is not day care. And the town does not, has not and never will raise my kids. And what about when YOU were a kid? There are plenty of people, young and old, rich and poor, smart and not so smart, that enjoy going to the library to read, take a class, do research, rent a movie, take their child to an activity, etc. And a LOT of those things are funded by donations and fundrasing events, NOT by the town. I guess you might be happier in a place where there are no local taxes and no kids to ruin YOUR "lifestyle." I hear the moon is up for grabs.
Tim April 25, 2012 at 06:34 PM
A renovation nightmare is also what Branford went through in the late 90s-early 2000s. By the time the project was done, Branford had an odd-looking school that cost more to renovate (twice the money, if memory serves) and took much, much longer to complete than if they had knocked down the old one and started fresh. I don't have the hard figures, but those facts were made public once the renovations were complete...years after the projected end date and millions past the projected cost. Branford also had a 'temporary' wing added to the school sometime in the 70's, which slid off it's temporary foundation (while students were in it) when the renovations began and heavy equipment started working in earnest outside the classrooms.
Ed Annino April 25, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Scotty, what a great reply. Great suggestion for Jay. Just leave Clinton & go bother some other town. I've been reading ALL the comments made. It is truly getting to be unbelievable. I take my granddaughter to programs at the library & they are fantastic. And what a stupid comment about school being a daycare. WOW!!! As many have already stated..."LET'S MOVE FORWARD...."
Steve Bristol April 25, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Leah Just to complete the thought, I checked their project specs. The projected student enrollment will be 1230 and the allowable sf'age is just over 222,000sf. They will be ADDING 20,000sf to the existing and will be about 47,000 OVER state allowance at 268,563. Let's see: twice the students, twice the square footage, same town price if you wish to continue with that comparison.
Steve Bristol April 25, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Valerie (or is it Peter?) Regarding moving forward..if the new referendum is allowed to take place, this IS moving forward. If it isn't---as they say about a football coach riding the refs---this is to show people exactly what they were 'sold' so it won't happen again aka 'for the next call'....and remember it come November of 2013. Even the architect told me after one meeting it wouldn't be all classrooms eliminated nor would it be apples to apples. I asked him very pointedly those two questions after the meeting. I told him he was misleading people then...he asked if I was saying he was lying...I said I thought he was a salesman. End of conversation. The simple point is: If a new school was really the best AND cheapest way to go, all the facts should have been put in front of people to let them decide, not just the set MBC wanted us to ask questions about---which is why the town is so divided. If there is no new referendum, or if a new one gets passed, we will sadly have to pay up.....again. Steve
Jay April 26, 2012 at 12:36 AM
the average town library depends on less than 25% of it's population for it's traffic. The same goes for things like the beach - nice and all that but in reality it is only used "heavily" for a month and a half each year - starting shortly before school lets out and then peters out beginning of Aug - guess you know how many visit it the rest of the year - how much did that block house cost they spent last Summer building? Good thinking on not having life guards though.
Art Kuever April 26, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Once this new building is completed, I would like to see it used year round for the community as well. With things like meals for seniors, seeing that we don't have a nice senior center, and other activities for the community maybe once a week. I would also like to see our town reach out to the Universities of the State that provide teaching certificates to see if there are students that could earn credit providing summer classes. This could be made into a win-win for the community and the students. The students could be the ones that run the "community" center programs as part of their community service hours and gain valuable knowledge. This building should also be able to be used as an emergency shelter. There are grants from the state that will help with generators and other things that are needed. With what happened last year, it is obvious a real shelter is also needed. There could also be a shuttle from the high school to the existing library after school that would still allow for the use of the great services that the library provides. The town already pays for buses, one could be made available daily for this run. Let's work together to see how this new building can enhance the entire town, so everyone will benefit from the cost.
Ed Annino April 26, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Finally some intelligent comments. Way to go Art...
Steve Bristol April 26, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Eliminating a drop off at Peters Complex fields was touted as one reason why the new school on that property made sense. Now you suggest adding one for the library? They still need a drop-off at IRC.
Art Kuever April 26, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I was just saying that if people are concerned about the use of the library, I am sure a bus can be made available. Many will be heading that way that may not be full and not all buses are used for the high school runs but only for middle and elementary so an additional 1/2 hour pay and bus usage I am sure can be put in the BOE budget if it is needed. The issue with the other runs going to the fields may have been the number of buses that were needed and the different times that they may have been needed. One daily from the high school to the library would be consistent and be nominal because it would not be an additional bus needed which needs an additional driver. If you are suggesting that not having to transport the sports teams to the Joel complex as a main reason for the new building then we have bigger issues. It is a nice to have, it will eliminate some money and a consistent bus going from the new building to the library will be used by more than just the sports teams. It will also allow the continued use by anyone at the new building and aid many parents.
Steve Bristol April 28, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Art I was just pointing out that eliminating a run to the fields was offered by SUPPORTERS as one reason for the new school....not me. I have always thought it was ridiculous to even mention it and have said so--especially when the same people said we could run one to the library. RE: Mr. Annino's comment--That's just silly. Steve
Patricia Morrone April 30, 2012 at 01:08 PM
as a taxpayer with a home that I am barely hanging on to it is absurd to build a new school we don't need. It will put me out on the street when I can not pay my taxes. Has anyone considered the elderly and low income homeowners. This town already has extremely high taxes compared to neighboring towns and you want to raise them? What is wrong with those in favor. Are you rich? I'm not and have lived in this town for over 45 years and would hate to have to leave it. This is not the economy to be doing this in. What about those that just lost their jobs too? What about the people? Consider them first then the school. We can fix it for much less than the millions it will cost to replace it. Just saying....Think of the people this school with hurt., Fix the old school. It was good enough for me and my child and is good enough for yours. Education does not have anything to do with the school but a lot to do with the teaching.
Patricia Morrone April 30, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I'd like to know why they pushed this vote before all the people of the town were here? If you want the school so bad people you pay my extra taxes that I can not afford. I don't even have a child in the system. Disgruntled you are so right.
Ed Annino April 30, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Please don't take this the wrong way. I don't mean to be disrespectful. I truly believe if someone wants something bad enough, in this case stay in Clinton, then you have to look at priorities. There may be other things in your life you can reduce or give up to pay the small increae in taxes. Or you can leave Clinton & hopefully find another town in CT, if you want to stay in CT. The odds are another town will have different issues that sill impact you financially. I retired recently and had to adjust my budget to live a different life style if I want to stay here, which I do. It may be time for you to adjust your budget. We need to take care of our young people's education. They are the future.
Patricia Morrone April 30, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I am not sure how to take this. Being out of work for 4 months and finally going back how much more do you think I can cut. No food? No heat? No lights? I respect your opinion but I have already cut out everything. Can't fix the windows, need a new furnace, etc. Seems sad to me your answer is to get out of town. Where is the compassion? Perhaps what everyone is missing is the school does not make the children smarter or give them a better future the teachers do. Wake up people you want this not for a better education because if you did you would put the money toward the teachers and not the school. People can learn in a cardboard box if the teacher is good. To tell me to leave town? That is just wrong on too many levels to even mention but I see where the poor people stand with you and hope the whole town does not feel the same way. I am sure you have not cut out as much as I have or you would not have made that statement. I wish you the best in your retirement. I guess that is more than you wish for me.
Scotty April 30, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Patricia, I don't think Ed was trying to say "get out of town if you can't afford it." I think he was merely stating an option for many people who would not be able to keep up with increased taxes and who have already hit rock bottom with their budgets. I sincerely mean no disrespect when I say this but I think you're missing the point here. The fact is that the referendum passed and that is that. There is no re-vote, no rallying people to overturn it, no petition. As a result, you, as well as a lot of people, have some important decisions to make as to what to do next. There's no point in saying "fix the old school" now because it will not happen that way.
Ed Annino April 30, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Thanks Scotty. That's exactly what I meant. I am a very compassionate person. I am also a realistic person. And I am not rich person in the financial arena but in may other ways. If anyone should have voted NO on the referendum it was my wife & myself. We opted to educate our 5 children at Our Lady of Mercy in Madison & Mercy & Xavier High Schools. Plus now living on a 'fixed' income. Despite both these items we fully support the new high school. I do not disagree that teachers prepare the students for their futures. The quality of the educational environment absolutely plays a significant role in their education.
Patricia Morrone May 01, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Ed I know you mean well. I am a single woman that works double shifts. Yesterday I worked 15 hours and got 2 hours sleep before I had to be back at work. I could sell However I would take a major loss on my little house and not be able to afford to buy another one. . I am confused though if like you say it is over and been passed why is everyone so concerned on this site? I would hate to leave my home and friends because the cost of a town is too great. people want this but at what cost? At another time when the economy is better I would be the first in line to vote yes . Especially since we just lost Unilever and our taxes will go up anyway but now they will go up even more. Do you see my concern? I am not against the school I am against the timing. you say then leave? That is not a choice that is an eviction. No one that has lived here so long wants to move.. I guess you are right we are stuck with this vote so why is everyone so upset with the petition? Maybe it is not the end. I hope for me and everyone else in my position that it is not over at all. But like I said I do respect you opinion just don't give me the "Or you can leave Clinton & hopefully find another town in CT," That's just cold no matter how you look at it. I am sure you don't mean it like that but step back and look at it from our view.
Kirk Carr May 01, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Ed and Scotty: Perhaps it is sinking in that there are real consequences to having the highest tax rate on the shoreline, though unintended. People who can't afford to stay have property values depressed so low they can't afford to leave either. High taxes depress property values, stunt grand list growth and impoverish taxpayers. Those who promised that a new school will present an opportunity for grand list growth and by its presence will increase property values will have miscalculated. Among those who voted "no" were parents and educators for whom peer preasure prevented all but the very brave from saying so publicly. The CTA's Morgan Task Force carefully weighed the pros and cons of a new school and by a 9 to 1 majority rejected the new school. See their presentation at: http://gocta.org/Morgan_Task_Force.html Their very thoughtful presentation was countered by fictions that a new school will avert certain disaccreditation, save $1 million in annual capital and maintenance expenses, earn state reimursement for which only renovating as new qualifies and will add $20 million to the grand list. All false.
Jay May 01, 2012 at 10:38 PM
" Over the last few months, Condelezza Rice has partnered with Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City public school system, to draw attention to the crisis in American public education. They co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations panel that examined the failure of public education as a threat to America’s national security. They found that 75 percent of American young adults do not qualify to serve in the military because they have criminal records, are physically unfit or — the biggest reason — have inadequate levels of education. One out of every four American students fails to get the high school diploma needed to join the military. This includes about half of the nation’s black and Hispanic students, who drop out of high school. Even more disturbing is the report’s finding that 30 percent of the young people graduating from America’s high schools don’t do well enough in math, science and English on the aptitude test to serve in the military." I wonder how many Clinton school children are eligible for military service to their country ?
glenn michaud May 09, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Has anyone even considered that the future of school buildings may be over very soon? Makes a lot of sense to me. Why spend all that money for something that may soon be obsolete? By that logic, we should not educate students using computers because they will someday be obsolete. Does that make sense to anyone?
Bart Brown May 19, 2012 at 01:23 AM
I hope they circulate it up my way, so I can tear it up and throw it in their faces. the usual Republican myopia -- let's worry about the nickel we can make today, and to hell with what happens down the road. I believe the late, great Godfather of Soul James Brown wrote the Republican rallying cry: "The way I like it Is the way it is -- I got mine, don't worry about his." Indeed, the Republicans have one, and ONLY one concern: their own wallets. Nothing else -- their childrens' education and future, their parents' health insurance, the plight of the poor, the REAL economy -- if a Republican's in the chips, he figures anyone who isn't is just lazy, and when he ISN'T in the chips, it's because somebody cheated him out of money he was going to steal from somebody else -- is the whole universe to the Modern-day Dixie-cans. This unholy marriage between the Segregationist Dixiecrats like John Stennis, George Wallace, Eugene Talmadge, and their ilk, and the modern Republican debris they've swept off the freight car floor to come up with SOME kind of candidate, has produced an amalgam FAR more noxious than the sum of the very worst of its component parts.
Bart Brown May 19, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Here's a test to tell if you're a Republican or not, and it makes no difference what religion you may be: Imagine you're Cain, deceitfully and arrogantly answering his father "Am I my brother's keeper?" is your personal answer the Old Testament "No, everybody has to look out for themselves," or is it Christ's answer: 'For I was hungry and you gave me food, and I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you came to me.' Then the righteous will say to him, 'Our Lord, When did we see you that you were hungry and we fed you, or that you were thirsty and we gave you drink? And when did we see you, that you were a stranger and we took you in, or that you were naked and we clothed you? And when did we see you sick or in a prison, and we came to you?' And The King answers and says to them, 'Amen, I say to you, as much as you have done to one of these my little brothers, you have done that to me. I believe the modern Republican answer, every time, is "I got mine, don't worry about his" "I like your Christ; he's so different from your Christians" Mahatma Gandhi

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