Letter: Don’t Build a New Leb ‘Paper Tiger’ While there Are Half-Empty Greenwich Schools

letter to the editorOpen letter to the Board of Selectmen, and Greenwich delegation: Mike Bocchino, Livvy Floren, F. Scott Frantz, Fred Camillo, Dec. 17, 2015

Given:   The New Lebanon School is overcrowded and does not meet the needs of its community.

Given:  The driving force behind an oversized facility is the “free” money (supposed) to come from the State of Connecticut.

Given:  No one seems to notice that Greenwich’s taxes are a significant percentage of the State of Connecticut’s income.  Those “state funds” are NOT free.

Given:  There is the belief that the creation of an IB “magnet” school will distract the state from immediate action regarding its mandate for “diversity”.

Given:  At the current time there are two – and perhaps three – schools in Greenwich with significant under-enrollment.

Given:  If Governor Malloy’s statement at the Greenwich Retired Men’s Association is to be believed, additional lanes on I-95 are a probability and the proximity of the architect’s planned building to the highway certainly raises the possibility of an eminent domain land-grab of the area.

I ask ALL of you to consider what really needs to be done.  Overbuilding in one area while other facilities are half empty is appalling, particularly when that building is being designed to circumvent achieving real diversity in our town’s  lower schools.  Greenwich has the potential to make a real difference, let’s not create a paper tiger complete with a paper road and an unnecessarily large, enormously expensive fantasy “wow”.

Thank you for your attention.

Judy Crystal
(a 45 year resident of Greenwich, a 10 year resident of Byram)

 

  • ericm

    Bussing is the best way to address the state’s diversity mandate, unfortunately bussing is as unpopular as redistricting, leaving us with the only alternative: building a magnet school. so, let’s build the best school possible, it will be a great investment for the future of Greenwich.

  • Lucy

    Judy, the “driving force” behind the new school isn’t “free money”. The town needs to diversify its schools as the state has dictated and deal with the changing population shifts in the district. It is true that some facilities have low enrollment while others are too full. However, when busing children to other schools was on the table parents revolted and it was decided by the town to take that option off the table. Yes, we pay both state and local taxes, so we are all, in fact, contributors to the funding we would receive from the state. But that money comes from tax payers from the ENTIRE state and isn’t concentrated on local tax payers. So there’s a huge benefit in that to you and to me. The magnet program in Greenwich does need some work to ensure that students from other areas in town are attracted to the magnet schools. In order to get the state funding, which is a FAR smaller burden to Greenwich taxpayers, to build a new school, we must address the racial balance issue through a magnet program. In order to attract students, we need to close the achievement gap, which is being addressed by the BoE in a number of ways and is a focus of increased attention and funding in the district. Governor Malloy’s comments are the RMA were inaccurately reported on by the local media and First Selectman Peter Tesei said in a special meeting that after speaking with state DOT representatives, it’s clear that any highway widening would be concentrated in the bottleneck area of Old Greenwich through Norwalk. Judy, I assume you are a Byram homeowner, as I am, and would like to see our property values increase. If you, like I did, saw your property taxes reduced this year it is because our property values have decreased, whereas they have increased in other areas of town. This is due in part to the negative press New Lebanon and the Byram community have received in recent years. I implore you to fact check your letters to editors before you send them in as you are only contributing to public confusion about this issue. There are many opportunities to attend public meetings as well.

  • Judy Goss

    There aren’t any solutions offered here. Bussing and redistricting have been considered and rejected. So what would the author propose? And considering how the building process has proceeded thus far, it is difficult to see a happy ending.

  • ericm

    I can imagine a happy ending: the RTM approves an MI for New Lebanon and we build a new school: the children of byram no longer have an asphalt playground at recess, but they get to run around on actual grass during recess; they no longer have music classes in the hallways, but actually enjoy adequate classroom facilities like the rest of town; we have enough room to bring kindergarteners back under the same roof; we are able to restore pre-K. These are all real tangible solutions that will improve the education of our children, and the value of our property. It would be great if everyone in town, much less everyone in Byram could support what is best for our children!

  • J.B

    Old Greenwich
    Parkway
    as well as North Street Elementary Schools ALL have classrooms that are not being used. Time to do some homework BOE !

  • Judy Goss

    I meant there were no solutions proposed in the original letter.