Important News in Greenwich
Connecticut's congressional delegation votes "NO" on Parents' Bill of Rights.
"Thirteen boys gave their lives for their country, for our country, for our freedom, for our protection." Don Sylvester
Don Sylvester is a 70-year Greenwich resident, and a veteran (learn more about Don's life here). We thank him for his service to our country. We were honored to speak with him about Eugene Morlot Veterans Park in Byram, where 13 trees stand tall, honoring 13 young men who fought and died for our country.
Originally ten trees were planted for those lost in WWII, followed some years later by three more for those lost in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Don was one of several local veterans and residents who worked hard to ensure that the park was preserved in light of changes taking place in the area.
"Eugene Morlot was the head custodian at Bryam Elementary School where he knew and interacted with all the students. His kids. And so, he, as much as the thirteen families, bore the burden of losing his boys to the ravages of war. It was Eugene, along with the school's principal, who led the planting of the first tree, a mighty sycamore, and twelve more sycamores and oaks to follow.
All in memory of those 13 boys. The 13-acre park was dedicated to those 13 boys because there was not one square foot of that property that those boys' feet did not touch, whether playing, walking or running. They spent almost their entire adolescent lives on those grounds.
"Don went on to say "who would want to destroy the open expanse of the park with its vision, dedicated to endure forever. These words were also echoed by the former First Selectmen Ruth Sims and Rebecca Breed, along with Parks Director Francis Keegan, a US Marine Corps veteran and Byram resident who knew these men along with their families. "Thankfully, the trees will remain protected in the park.
Don continues to be very involved with Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) as well as the local Veteran's Association and the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club.
We are pleased to announce that we are hosting Vivek Ramaswamy at our Lincoln-Reagan Party on June 17th, 2023. You won't want to miss this - a special party at a beautiful private residence.
Please save the date; tickets will go on sale very soon!
Central Middle School
In April 2022, the BET Republicans led the effort to expedite the rebuilding of Central Middle School. In April 2023, the same group committed to its funding by voting for a $70 million budget for the project, as originally budgeted by the Board of Education (BOE).
Democrats continue to show a lack of awareness that building an oversized school is inequitable and environmentally destructive. School administrators, with the help of BET and BOE Democrats, continue to mislead parents arguing a supersized school is needed to deliver a ‘teaming’ model. This is simply not true. In CT, there are no past, current or future middle schools being built anywhere that are this egregious. They all have teaming models and are being built significantly smaller.
Due to the immense public pressure to right-size this project, the BOE held a special meeting on April 24th to make recommendations to reduce the size of the school. However, the Democrats, despite multiple pleas from the Republican BOE chair, refused to make any significant compromises or reductions. The design currently sits at 50-60% larger than required, and the CMS Building Committee is awaiting a cost estimate for this oversized design. Since the BOE has not been cooperative in materially reducing the scope of this project, we are hopeful that the construction manager’s estimate will provide recommendations and options to deliver this project within budget.
Click Read More to learn about the CMS Building Committee Chair and Vice-Chair lobbying the PTA, and the resignation of a committee member due to social media posts.
Old Greenwich School
BET members have requested an independent estimate for the renovation of Old Greenwich Elementary School (OGS). This is the fairest way to put the controversies to rest.
During budget hearings, the OGS Building Committee Chair James Waters (LWV President Sandy Waters' son), presented a $40 MILLION budget to renovate Old Greenwich Elementary. The “bare minimum” renovation estimate was the result of Waters' “financial model”, a model with baseless assumptions and funny math. Even Democrats scratched their heads as to why a renovation was so expensive, noting that new schools in town had been built for significantly less than this "bare minimum" renovation (Greenwich Academy’s new elementary school cost $23 million, and was constructed during COVID years of supply and demand constraints). Accordingly, the Republican BET members led the effort to approve an independent cost estimate for this renovation project.
Click Read More to learn about the Democrat BET & Mr. Waters' reactions to an independent estimate.
For a detailed overview of the decisions involved in the rebuilding of Central Middle School by Harry Arora, our former State Representative, please click on "From the Desk of Harry Arora".
You will have the opportunity to take a brief survey to share your thoughts.
RTM will meet at 7 PM on May 8th to consider and vote on the proposed BET Budget for FY 2023-24. Budget related items are the only business put on the May Call with other town affairs postponed to the June meeting. The Town Charter requires RTM to take action on the budget by May 15th of each year. If the RTM does not act, or fails to get majority budget approval, then the proposed BET budget would take effect without any changes.
The Town Charter provides that the RTM cannot increase funds for any item which would exceed the BET recommendation. The RTM also cannot add funds for other purposes not recommended in the BET budget. The RTM can only approve, reduce, or completely eliminate funding amounts for specific budget items.
There are also budget resolutions to be approved including an important bonding resolution which authorizes the town to issue bonds. The bonding resolution must obtain a majority vote of 116 members to pass regardless of the number of members present for the vote. Once a budget has been approved the BET is required to determine and set the tax mill rate by May 25th each year.
Greenwich Schools Superintendent Toni Jones recently updated the Board of Education on her negotiations with the Connecticut State Department of Education to meet racial quotas at three elementary schools - Old Greenwich, Hamilton Avenue, and New Lebanon. The news wasn't good. Not familiar with Connecticut Racial Balance Mandates? They aren't new and Greenwich Public Schools hasn't gotten close to meeting them despite decades of failed plans and more than $75Mil of taxpayers' money being spent.Connecticut has a law that requires school districts to compare the racial composition of their overall school district to the composition of each individual school. If the composition at any school varies by more than a set percentage from the district overall, the school system is required to take action to bring each school into "racial balance". So Greenwich has been cited because Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon are "too hispanic" and Old Greenwich is "too white". The State of Connecticut is demanding a plan from Greenwich to correct this imbalance.
For more than 20 years, Greenwich has tried to avoid the mandate by designating Hamilton Avenue, New Lebanon, Julian Curtiss, and Western Middle Schools as "magnet" schools. The idea was "white families" will send their kids to these schools because there were special programs of STEAM, Suzuki Violin, or International Baccalaureate. Sadly Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon have long been the lowest-performing schools in Greenwich and the BoE has shown no interest in fixing it. Meanwhile, Superintendents and Administrators, who generally support CT's racial balance and quota schemes, failed to understand parents first and foremost want schools with strong academic programs and proven educational results. Republicans have long understood this fundamental truth and it explains why our party platform calls for school choice even within a public school district.
Panel Discussion: What Are Your Children Learning? All About SEL / DEI / CRT — on May 21st from 4pm - 7pm in Greenwich, CT AND via Livestream
The panel will be moderated by seasoned Investigative Journalist, television producer, author, Christine Dolan. Panelists include Ret. General Rod Bishop, Xi Van Fleet, Mary Holland, Kevin Jenkins, former CT Rep Kim Fiorello, Todd Wood and Jackie Homan.
What is the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET)?
The Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) is responsible for drafting and administering the town’s budget (which is then reviewed by the First Selectman prior to being presented for approval to the RTM). It also sets the town tax mill rate. In addition, the BET appoints the Town Controller and Town Assessor. The Board also acts on requests for additional appropriations, transfers and allotments made during the fiscal year. It is arguably the most powerful town committee.
The BET consists of twelve members nominated and elected by registered Greenwich residents. Each of the two major political parties in town nominate six candidates. Members hold office for two years beginning on January 1 following their election. They are unpaid and may not hold any other elected office.
Stay Tuned In
There are several ways in which you can continue to learn and be informed of what is happening in Greenwich.
Greenwich TV (GCTV), which is operated mostly by volunteers, provides live broadcast coverage of various Town government meetings (such as First Selectman, RTM, Planning & Zoning, and BET meetings).
1. They are broadcast on Channel 79 (Cablevision/Altice) and Channel 24 (Verizon).
3. Greenwichtv.org - the GCTV website streams as well as rebroadcasts programming throughout the week and keeps extensive archives for easy viewing accessibility.
Connect & Learn
We will be hosting local coffees where we can gather, learn & discuss together. If you would like more information on upcoming coffees please sign up here:
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PO Box 4030 | Greenwich, CT 06831
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