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Morgan Students Speak Out About New School

Most will graduate long before it's completed, but they have opinions on why it should be built, what it should contain, and the CTA's efforts to change the referendum results.

 

They couldn't vote in the April 11 referendum that approved a new $64.75 million high school for Clinton, but they certainly have a vested interest in it.

They are the students of The Morgan School, now and in the future.

Of six students who recently sat down with the Clinton Patch to talk about the new school, only half of them, all freshman today, would walk the halls of the new building if it is completed in September of 2015.

First, the existing school and its issues.

Three words to describe the current school?

"Outdated, embarrassing and wet," said Kendra Dean, a freshman.

Wet, you ask?

"Two weeks ago in AP Biology there was this huge puddle of water flowing across the entire hallway," said junior Patrick McAllister. "The water was coming out from the bottom of the walls."

When classes take place in June, the heat is "unbearable" said Caroline Best, a senior.

In the winter, there's no heat in some areas of the building, said Judy Chicoine, a freshman.

"When it rains, it's impossible to hear in the English wing," added Best.

"It totally disrupts classes," said McAllister.

"How can we learn when we can't hear what the teacher is saying?" asked Rory Smith, a junior.

There's little pride in the physical building when visiting students and teams from other schools come to Morgan, they said.

"Students deserve to be proud of where they go to school," said Chicoine.

What would they like to see in the new school?

Mandatory: an auditorium that can be used by the community as well as the school, two gymnasiums, WiFi, updated technology, air-conditioning, heat, and good acoustics.

Wish list: food court style cafeteria, bike racks, better drop-off system for school buses vs. private vehicles, playing fields, roof top garden, plenty of parking, a definitive and grand entrance, murals painted by the students.

Dean and Chicoine, who are writers and reporters for the PawPrints online newspaper, asked teachers (and in a separte article, students) what they'd like to see in the new school. The students concurred that the faculty list was less than grandiose.

What do teachers want? Windows that open and close, lockable closets, decent bathrooms, more bookcases, and a more efficient layout of the school to give students enough time to get from one class to another.

What do they think of the price and the new location?

"You get what you pay for," said Best. "It needs to be a new building."

It can be very expensive to renovate, said McAllister.

Maina Carey, a freshman, said she can't envision new technology working in the old building.

They agreed that the property of the existing school is "valuable" and would be a good investment for a company such as Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets to purchase.

The new location of the school, just a short drive north on Route 81, is a good one, they agreed.

Dean said the location, which is adjacent to the Peters Recreational Complex, makes sense since so many of the teams use Peter's fields for practice.

What did they think of the Clinton Taxpayers Association (CTA's) efforts to

They all agreed that "a vote is a vote" and a referendum vote is "what Democracy is all about."

"If you are a summer resident and missed the vote, that's too bad. It's your responsibility as a taxpayer to be aware of an upcoming vote," they said.

Chuck Hill October 03, 2012 at 11:30 AM
I voted against the new school. If anyone from the CTA thinks they represent me or my opinion they are sorely mistaken. I believe in the democratic process. My vote lost. If the CTA somehow manages to get another referendum I will vote in favor of the new school to respect the original decision and to do my part to uphold the democratic process.
joan October 03, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Dear A, apparently YOU didn't read the whole article, there was one student by the name of Patrick McAllister who complained about the water running across the hallway. Caroline Best complained that she couldn't hear the teacher when it rained. Golly, to think all these years the school has been there, and all the kids that attended this school, weren't learning because they couldn't hear the teacher when it rained.
VIN CIMINO October 03, 2012 at 12:24 PM
I assure you that no one gets paid by the Clinton Taxpayer Association. The CTA consists of "plain old resident" and non-resident taxpayers and it's goal is to facilitate the efficient and wise use of taxpayer monies affecting Clinton residents and taxpayers. CTA issues are issues that affect the entire town. The CTA promotes greater involvement of all taxpayers so that they may have a stronger voice in determining what taxes they will pay and how their taxpayer dollars will be spent. The CTA hold elected officials accountable for their decision-making on the expenditures of public funds. I've spent a lot of time serving on boards and commissions, attending selectmen and town meetings and functions and studying the history of Clinton and the town charter. There have been many bad decisions by the administration in the 10 years that I've lived here that have had long-term negative effects on the town. Political cronyism, land giveaways, unnecessary expensive projects that were poorly planned and poorly executed, poor stewardship of town property, etc. I intend to continue to share important information with my fellow residents and taxpayers so that better decisions can be made in the future and we can improve this town we love. Commenters who use their real names tend to have more credibility. I ask that you use yours, ClintonRes.
joan October 03, 2012 at 12:29 PM
To A other thing, I know what's it's like to have to walk to school in snow over my boots, and sit in class with cold wet feet all day, I know what it's like to have to wear our sweaters and coats on some cold days in the winter all day in school. I know what it's like to sweat on hot days with only one big fan in front of the classroom trying to cool us off. So, please don't say WHAT IF, because you have no idea what we older folks went through and it seems that we're alot smarter then you think. and another thing, Richards has another year to stay on this property, nothing can be done until WE pay to move him to their new location., then the cleanup starts, how long this will take, no one knows. What are all the students for the next 4 or 5 years going to do. they'll have to sit in a scool that's getting worse by the day if it's not fixed right away. At least by renovating this school, like many other towns have done, the students will have a nice place to learn.
Turgut Berkmen October 03, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Mr.Riccio, I am not exactly understanding your answer, that is if you are agreeing or disagreeing with what I said about property values. As you well point out, getting a diploma from a high school with a good reputation will open doors and yes towns with a good reputation will be more expensive to live in. I have moved here in 2002. I looked for a house for 2 years. I couldn't buy one in Madison or Guilford because it's so expensive. Everyone I talked to said "You either pay less for the house and send your kid to private school or pay more and send them to public school". This year 2 neighbors moved to Madison because their kids reached middle school age and they didn't want them to go to Clinton schools. I have friends with kids who live in those towns because THE SCHOOLS ARE BETTER. I have never heard anyone say "I live in Madison because the sidewalks are or the police station is better". I am willing to risk my money because I know I'll make it back once we have a brand new, state of the art school. My solution does not ask anyone of the "Other half" to pay a penny unless we all make money. So why are you guys still fighting? I AM NOT ASKING FOR PEOPLE WHO VOTED NO TO PAY FOR ANYTHING. If we don't make money on our properties, you will never pay a penny. JUST LET THE PEOPLE BUILD THEIR SCHOOL. If and when the average home value goes up say 10%, you will pay some backtaxes and it'll be done. No interest, no penalty nothing. Please stop arguing and let's get it done.
A October 03, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Golly Joan, In your first write up that I responded to, you said"not one of the students mentioned water". That's what you said not me. Please don't say I didn't read the article when I called you out on your mis informed posting.
A October 03, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Joan, I am sorry you are bitter about the time period you went to school and what was not available to you at that time. Times have changed and their are improvements to the world that may not have been available to you but they are available now. All I am asking is, just because you suffered through tough days at school, the rest of evolution has to experience the same thing? Are you against this because of how you were raised? Personally, if I went to school how you did, I would want something better for the children of today. I wouldn't punish them just because I had it rough. If we come together as a community and stop fighting, i can work for everyone. That's what small towns are supposed to do......work together. Was you "another thing" directed to someone else? I never mentioned anything about Richards and the response was written to me
Art Kuever October 03, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Tom, We have been down this road before, there is no comparison between the Old Saybrook building and the one in Clinton. First the comparison was to Guilford who renovated and added on instead of re-building but when they decided to rebuild, they were forgotten and Old Saybrook is now being used. All of this is re-hash, nothing original. There is only one more entitiy to hear from - the court- but now the building will go forward.
Elizabeth October 04, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Okay, so I actually go to this school, and I agree with everything said by the students. This year, September was a very cold month at its' end, and it was extremely cold inside the school. If you want the article written by a bigger slice of the Morgan school (Vin Cimino spoke out about this), then here is the url: http://morganpawprint.com/2012/10/02/a-chance-to-begin-again/ Hopefully Faye will include this soon. To be honest, an adult on a rage rush cannot possibly be correctly insulting the school. On Vince's profile, it says he has lived here for eight years. Vince, if you don't mind my asking, do you have a family? Do you have kids? Have they gone to Morgan? I wouldn't know. If you had children in the town, education would matter to you. Can everyone please set aside the issues of taxes and focus on how we are improving the education of our younger residents? I know that taxes are a huge concern here. But education over taxes? Most parents will agree that education is a lot more important. Summer people don't matter here. They had their chance. They were notified. Let's just focus on the future and how our town is going to be improved, just like we all wanted. If you don't like the administration, move somewhere else. Obviously, changing it from within isn't working.
Elizabeth October 04, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Vin, it doesn't matter if ClintonRes' screenname is ClintonRes. If they don't want anyone to know who they are, that is their choice.
Kendra October 04, 2012 at 05:37 PM
To be honest I don't think that you all can say that we don't need a new school. Seeing as I actually attend the school, I can. Our school is disgusting. The ceilings leak so bad that we have to have buckets everywhere to hold the leakage. Only a select few of the classrooms in Morgan have air-conditioning. Also again, only a select few of the classrooms have heaters. I may only be a freshmen, but my dad, who works in the Morgan School, complains also.Sometimes when it rains really bad the water seems to go under the wall and spill all over the hallways. That's a safety hazard! What if a student slips and then the school gets sued? I bet that a lot of you don't have kids that go to this school, so that is why you probably don't even care. All you're worried about is having to pay the taxes. Also, at VIn Cimino: I bet if you interviewed every student here at Morgan they would all say that we are need of a new school. Fay can't exactly take every single students out of their classes and interview every one of them.
Elizabeth October 04, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I agree with you, A. We should have some administration members and residents spend a day following a student to and from classes in Morgan on a cold, rainy, November day.
Mary Muratori October 04, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I don't understand why we can't let the topic of whether we should or should not build a new school. The referendum was passed, and the students/teachers here at Morgan deserve a new school. We, the students actually go here first of all. To be honest, all of the older adults, don't know what it is like going to this school everyday. I'm a senior, and although it's tolerable, it's not very enjoyable. As stated above, the roof is indented, the ceilings always, 100% leak when it is raining. Just last week, my friend walked into the locker room for gym, after it had rained, and slipped in fell in a puddle. After that, we opened our lockers, and our clothes were soaking wet, due to the lack of protection in the ceiling. The old gym leaks as well, and when that happens, gym classes cannot be used in that gym. It is unsafe in all aspects. Walking down the band hallway, you can notice that the ceiling is close to falling. A student I know has had a piece of the ceiling fall on him, without notice. Buckets are everywhere in the school, just out in the middle of the hallways, which is also not safe; but there is nothing anyone can really do about it. The ceilings are so far gone, that it would cost so much money to redo every single ceiling, because fixing one ceiling in one hallway is not enough. This new school, is not a 'want' anymore, it's more of a need. I know that we, as students, cannot vote, but our opinions strongly matter, because it is our education. Elders have go theirs.
Elizabeth October 04, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Vince, your assumptions are incorrect. Yes, college is a big concern to high schoolers, but it is not on our minds every second! Us students know to focus on the subject at hand.
Mary Muratori October 04, 2012 at 05:55 PM
MrsSmithWatchingWashington- Is this a serious comment? Student's opinions don't matter? You are sadly mistaken, and that is very ignorant of you. Do you actually go to The Morgan School and deal with the building and the crappy quality of it? No. You do not. Commenting on the 'we don't pay taxes.' Yes, this is true, but our parents do. And guess what, they deal with it, and no they may not be happy, they just want their children to get a good education. Don't you want your kids to get the best education they can get? You got the best education you wanted/strived for when you went through schooling.
Tom Riccio October 04, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Art and Turgut, I was addressing Turket's claim that a new building increases property values and provides a better education. Although a new building is a tool to those ends it does not mean results are automatic. We have the best fire equipment of any town for tens of miles. All for not if the firefighters are not trained to use it (gratefully they are). I support moving forward with the new building, but as I stated in an opinion piece before the vote, our town issues are three fold. As we progress with the school, we must also move forward on commercial economic development and downtown revitalization or else we will have noone left to pay for the new school. All three go hand in hand and to ignore one will lead to not realizing the others. On a separate note, although I support the school, I will not let Turgut and his "half" spout supposed facts such as the promise of increased property values, savings on current maintenance (are we going to leave the reported leaking roofs and mold noted above alone for the next three years until the new school is completed?) or the promise of increased test scores and improved teacher performance (based on a new building) unchallenged. I have no doubts any teacher at leaky old Morgan would ever trade places with a teacher in a new public inner city school in Bridgeport, Waterbury, Hartford or New Haven. I eagerly look forward to seeing plans for a new school. Does anyone know when they will be shown to the public?
VIN CIMINO October 04, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Hi, Elizabeth & Kendra. My Patch profile is 2 years old. I have lived in Clinton for 10 years now. I am single and do not have children, which are fair questions. I graduated from Hamden high School and Quinnipiac University. Both of those institutions are housed in older buildings that have been properly maintained through the years. When it became time to upgrade these buildings, the original buildings were not knocked down. They were remodeled on site and expanded as necessary. Both are still thriving today. Thank you for providing the link to the original article by Maina Carey & Judy Chicoineon the Morgan Pawprint. I think it's great that the students have established this website. I read the article. I understand some students really want a food court with a Starbucks as well as a flower garden on the roof at the proposed new school. I wonder if those students have given any thought to what this rooftop flower garden might do to the integrity of that roof. In light of the current issues with the roof at Morgan now, wouldn't it be wise to keep everything and everyone off the roof? Speaking of the roof, why do you suppose the current roof hasn't been maintained? Don't you think it should be replaced? Why do you suppose it hasn't been? I'm sorry that it is sometimes too hot or too cold in the building. Did you know that more than a year ago, Clinton received a grant of $650,000 for solar heat and the administration decided not to install the system?
VIN CIMINO October 04, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I don't know how this Patch article originated but wouldn't it be more accurate to poll the entire student population through your website? Couldn't they be given several options to consider? Wouldn't that be a more scientific approach? I'd be willing to assist you with that, if you like. I'd like to know, are any issues with the current auditorium and double gymnasium at Morgan? They seem to me to be excellent. Do you know of any reason why both can't be utilized by the entire community? Summer people do, in fact, matter. They provide a lot of revenue to the town through taxes. They don't receive a discount in their taxes because they don't live here year round. The $65 million that is proposed to be spent on a new building will affect their taxes the same as it affects your parents' taxes. But, taxes aren't the only issue here. I assure you that every resident of Clinton is concerned about the school system and how Morgan compares to other area schools. I'm sure you know where Morgan ranks as far as high schools in the state. Aside from improving the physical plant, what do you think can be done to improve the education at Morgan? You're right, Elizabeth. I'm not very fond of the current administration and many of their financial decisions. But, I love this town and moving isn't the only option. Informing residents and getting them involved will lead to better decisions that will improve our town. The Pawprint can be very helpful in that regard.
joan October 06, 2012 at 11:34 PM
to mary muratori, OH MY GOD, the lockers are leaking TOO? Just think you have four or five or even more years in this leaky school, all because no one wants to fix it for you kids.
Kendra October 07, 2012 at 04:05 PM
To Vin: I realize that you are very angered about this whole thing. If you spent one rainy day or hot day in my school you'd realize that we need this new school. Renovations would cost just as much as getting a new school. The reason why I think that renovations is not a good option is because it would be a huge distraction. Most likely the renovations would take a long time and would get in the way of our schedule and our everyday routines at school. If you attended the Morgan High School you'd realize how badly it is falling apart.
Kendra October 07, 2012 at 04:14 PM
To "MrsSmithWatchingWashington": Who cares? I care and it is very unfortunate that you have no respect for us "kids", who will one day be the future adults. Hopefully most of us won't end up being so disrespectful like you. We are the ones who have to go to school everyday not you. If the school gets any worse I doubt any one will want to come to school. I already know a handful of kids who hardly ever come to school because they don't find the experience pleasant. I am a student at Morgan and I wanted the new school. I wasn't able to vote, but my parents did. They voted yes. They have to pay for that enormous budget. Why? Because they want me to enjoy coming to school, they want me to be proud of the high school I attend, they want me to get a good education and be something big. I am truly sorry to see that we have such ignorant people living in our town.
VIN CIMINO October 07, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Hi, Kendra. I have a lot of respect for the kids of Clinton as well as the taxpayers of Clinton. I hope you don't include me in the group of "ignorant people living in our town". Ignorance implies a lack of awareness, knowledge, or comprehension. I assure that I'm not ignorant and that those who prefer an option other than a $65 million new building aren't being disrespectful; they're concerned about the town's finances. The town's grand list is declining, increasing the average per capita tax burden. We've begun implementing a $9.3 million bonding package. The wastewater solution could cost the town another $50 million. If we also build a new school for $65 million, how do you suppose this will all be paid for? You've been told that renovations would cost just as much as a new building. I've asked several times now and would appreciate answers to these questions: Is there anything wrong with the current auditorium and double gymnasium? Why shouldn't we preserve that part of the building and rebuild the remaining portion to the left on the current site? I assure you that option was never evaluated and that it would be considerably less expensive. Classes could continue uninterrupted until the new section was completed, with a reserved construction entrance. Construction time would be severely shortened. This is a viable option that wasn't compared to a $65 million new building. I'm sharing my thoughts and I appreciate you sharing yours.
VIN CIMINO October 07, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Hello again, Kendra. Are you aware the town already purchased the propesed site for a new high school building for 185% of its appraised value? Did you know that it has been a nursery that used pesticides and fertilizers? Did you know that the town didn't perform any soil tests on the land before buying it? Do you think the town should have conducted soil tests before buying the land? Did you know that contaminates have now been detected on that land? How do you feel about a school being built on land that contains contaminated soil? Shouldn't we be concerned about the health and safety of the students, the staff and the residents? I'm very sorry to hear about the kids who hardly ever come to school because they don't find the experience to be pleasant. Their parents, teachers and counselors should intervene. I sense there may be other issues involved. You're already something big and I'm sure your parents are very proud of you. Thank you for participating in the discussion.
Glenn Coffin October 08, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Vin - I'm no finance guru but isn't it true that the property in question was appraised so low because of its use? Lets not distort the facts, again regarding the soil samples. I'm pretty sure that the high school students will not be playing with dirt and eating it, so I'm not too concerned with the soil test results. Until the state shuts down the project, I'm sure there is plenty of abatement that can be done if required. If I'm not mistaken, Peters Complex used to be a dump so what conclusions do you draw from the ability to convert that property into the space that it is today? Certainly a dump, particularly one so old, would have more contaminants than a farm, would it not?
VIN CIMINO October 08, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Hi, Glenn. The subject property was appraised so low because that was what it was worth. It is illegal to appraise it otherwise. Surely you don't believe that soil tests are only relevant at sites where soil will be played with and eaten? I draw no conclusions from the decision to build the Peters Complex on a former dump site. I do feel, though, that it is unwise to build any school on a former dump site or on a site that is known have contaminants in the ground. In 1956, the Town of Hamden decided to build a middle school on a former dump site. Of course, they didn't know then all we know about the health hazards associated with contaminated soil. In 1989, a tornado ripped through the area, uprooting trees and causing extensive damage. Suddenly, the disturbed contaminated soil became an unavoidable disaster. In the end, the soil at the school and 234 nearby homes had to be dug up and removed. The cost to date has totalled $60 million, but residents insist that problems still exist. We've learned a lot since 1956. We should be making smarter decisions. And, we can't trust our government to make these decisions for us. We should use common sense. We already have a high school on a large piece of land. There is nothing that would prevent the town from preserving the existing auditorium and double gymnasium and rebuilding the remainder of the school to the left on the current site. Why would we spend $65 million building on a contaminated site?
Glenn Coffin October 08, 2012 at 04:46 PM
What kind of contamination? What kind of pesticides? What kind of fertilizers? What experts have you consulted that lead you to believe this is not a manageable problem?
VIN CIMINO October 08, 2012 at 04:54 PM
My opinion is that schools should not be built on sites that contain contaminated soil.
Mary Muratori October 09, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Too bad you don't deal with wet stinky gym clothes, which affects your grades, because you can't change. I'd like to see you put on soaking wet gym clothes, that smell like a dumpster, and participate in dodge ball for 53 minutes. You honestly have no clue, because you don't go here, and you're clearly just bitter about it because you don't want to pay the taxes, so how about you find something better to do rather than arguing with a bunch of teenagers, because that looks bad on your part.
Elizabeth October 09, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Joan, why are you so bitter? Insulting a bunch of kids on the internet? Really? Please find a better way to express your opinions without sounding unprofessional. You are an adult, after all.
Kendra October 09, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Give it a rest. We are getting a new school. It doesn't matter if you disagree anymore because everyone already voted.

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