SPILO: Right-Size CMS

Submitted by Michael Spilo. Mr. Spilo is a member of the CMS Building Committee and is Chair of the RTM Public Works and RTM Labor Contracts committees. The views expressed are his own.

For many years, Greenwich has overspent on buildings, mostly school buildings. Each time there’s a cacophony of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) spread by supporters of the useless, wasteful, over-large building projects. In the past, virtue signaling Democrats on the Board of Ed always held firm behind a shield of “if you disagree you must hate kids.” Tax and spend “Republicans” caved because for them common-sense spending is only a pretense, and their main goal is reelection.

As a result, we have the largest High School Auditorium in the state which we were promised would be a showpiece and would improve property values (it is not and did not); we have a very large elementary school supposedly designed to improve outcomes and racial balance (it has not). We have far more classroom capacity than we need, and we have a myriad of “green” projects which turned into red ink and a maintenance headache.

This isn’t new or unique to Greenwich. But Central Middle School (CMS) will be the most expensive building project ever done by Greenwich, even adjusted for inflation.

The current FUD is around the education jargon of Team Teaching. Here’s the real story:

• Team Teaching requires AT MOST 30 classrooms for teams, but the proposed CMS has 34.
• Team Teaching can be done with fewer than 30 classrooms as is being done in Cromwell.
• Team teaching has no requirements for the SIZE of classrooms.
• The proposed CMS classrooms are large enough for 26 students, even though the BOE claim a maximum of 22 students.
• Team Teaching has no requirement for the size of the auditorium, music rooms or cafeteria.
• In the proposed CMS all these are larger than the EXISTING CMS which has a capacity of at least 734 students? FUD.

More FUD: Yes, the main building was built in 1953, but it has been renovated multiple times since, and a major wing was added in 2000.

The bottom line is: Ignore the FUD. The new CMS is 17% larger than the current CMS, and the current CMS held over 700 students comfortably while CMS enrollment is now 500 and declining.

The DIFFERENCE between “supersize” and “right-size” CMS will cost the median Greenwich household at least $1,500, not counting that Greenwich has never built anything on budget. (The closest we ever came is 20% over.)

Can we afford it? Perhaps, but should we have to? Definitely not. This extra spending will do NOTHING to enhance learning for our children. It’s an attempt to distract from declining test scores; it’s virtue signaling empty space that will NEVER be fully used and which will invariably result in cut corners elsewhere.

The virtue signaling is also the part where they add new and untested “net zero” technology like the geothermal HVAC at Hamilton Avenue School which doesn’t deliver, or the solar panels on the roof of the High School which were disconnected two years after they were installed.

The big buildings and green toys are symbols of the idle rich who run our building committees and like to cut ribbons and put their names on plaques to show off to each other, while falsely claiming they do it to “support education” in the hopes this will further their puny political ambitions or give them status at their country club or PTA.

If you want to see this change, you need to contact the Board of Education ASAP ([email protected]) and tell them that they should limit the project scope to what we actually need. And if that fails, think about what you would do with an extra $1,500 in your pocket as you cast your ballot in November.