Submitted by Mimi Duff
I am Mimi Duff, President of PTA Council, which is the umbrella organization for the 15 public school PTA’s. I wanted to share my comments from the Mar 28 2022 BET meeting with our community in support of the school budget. Let me start by sharing a bit about who we are at PTAC.
Some of PTAC’s main roles are to coordinate PTA efforts and programs, to advocate with a unified voice, to facilitate communication, and to interface with organizations such as the school system administration and town authorities.
But who are we really? We are dedicated parents, professionals, workers, volunteers… We are residents of Greenwich, many of us very long-term residents. I myself have lived here for 18yrs. What we all share is that we are big advocates, and believers in our public schools. I myself have four children in the public schools, two at Western and two at the high school. As such, we have a vested interest in our children’s education. You might say that we are eating our own cooking. It breaks my heart as I speak to the current BET, the body that controls our town budget (where the public school system is the biggest line item), that none of the members have children in our public schools. So as I was crafting my comments tonight, I am trying to figure out how we can move the needle and get our schools adequate funding?? To be clear, we are looking for adequate funding, not extravagant funding.
You all know we are 5 years behind in our 15-yr plan. Following years of trimming in our budget, we should not at all be surprised by what’s happened at North Mianus and Central Middle School in the past two years.
Disappointed and saddened, Yes.. But surprised? No.
Getting to this year’s budget: The BOE has asked for funding of 1.5mm each for architectural and engineering design work for JC and OG schools, and another 2.5mm for Central Middle School A&E.
We realize that Central has been pushed to the top of the queue, something we are very grateful for following the 2 week closure leading into February break. I would remind those reading that the study that was used to highlight the CMS shortfalls prior to the 2-week closure was denied funding by the BET. It was ultimately funded by grant money with the full support of the Board of Education and Dr Jones.
What we are asking for is to fund the A&E line items for JC and OG. JC is a 75 year old building, where ADA Compliance, Security and HVAC are all in need of attention. They have a new pre-school starting this week, and enrollment is rebounding. Due to the great number of magnet student applications this year, there is a long wait list for kindergarten. Class size is growing and not shrinking at JC. At OG, as you know, there are ADA compliance issues, flooding and HVAC issues, and not enough space, with some teachers working in closets.
The Central Middle School issues have been well telegraphed in the press, so I won’t review them again here. Would you agree that when the BET denied funding for the recent CMS study, they didn’t know what they didn’t know? Let’s stop pretending that we are building experts, when we have degrees in engineering and careers in finance, like I do.
Let’s fund the A&E money this year, let’s stop kicking this can down the road.
I know the BET members’ kids aren’t walking into these buildings every day, but ours are, and they are our elected officials.
So we are asking them to act on our childrens’ best behalf when they make the difficult budget decisions.
I ask the BET to please fund the full Operating and Capital budgets that were carefully and thoughtfully put forward by the Board of Education. It’s their job to ask for what we need, and they’ve done their part. Now it’s the BET’s job to do theirs.