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From the Concerned Windsor Citizens
For the November 3rd, 2015 municipal election, Concerned Windsor Citizens advocates support for the Republican slate for both Windsor Town Council and Windsor Board of Education. After careful consideration, we believe that Windsor will best be served by a local political environment that is open to new and diverse ideas. We expect that a change in majority control will ultimately improve the performance of both major political parties in generating creative solutions to challenges facing Windsor.
In Windsor's non-competitive election structure, 9 of 10 candidates up for election are already guaranteed a seat for the position they seek. Some very good individual candidates are Democrats and will still serve even if all Republicans on Row B are elected.
Thoughts from a former Board of Education member:
We do not expect people to comment here; however, Howard Jubrey has posted an article that we believe is worth a read.
Thoughts from a long time Independent [Unaffiliated] Voter
In my view and as a long time Independent [Unaffiliated] Voter, these are my thoughts as to why voters should consider the Republican team.
This is for those of you who are Independent Minded Voters who believe that principles are more important than politics and Party rhetoric.
This is for those of you who are part of a new wave of voters who believe in showing respect for the wishes of residents and not falsely attacking opposing views or groups.
This is for those of you who believe that the voice of the people via TOWN REFERUNDUMS SHOULD NOT BE ABOLISHED as has been proposed by those who want to eliminate your vote on the budget and give you NO FUTURE SAY OR INPUT over Annual Town Budgets.
This is for those of you who believe a Town Council and leaders should respect and take note of repetitive pleas, petitions, and referendums for better accountability and use of taxpayer dollars.
This is for those you who understand that unbridled and annual increases in property taxes are not in the best interests of ALL CITIZENS. That fiscal responsibility is not about cutting services and denying quality education, but recognizing that we cannot continually increase spending and must exercise sound judgment each year and responsive to residents.
This is for those of you who believe that many Windsor residents are on fixed incomes and/or working more than one job to eke out a living and meet rising costs of living. They live the daily reality that just as they and their families must budget and spend responsibly so should the Town. Basically, as Kenny Rogers said, “You gotta know when to hold em and know when to fold em.”
This is for those of you who believe residents SHOULD NOT have to come out time and again to plead before the Town Council majority in behalf of: Preserving Open Space, Wildlife Habitats, local
farms, woodlands, waterways, and sustaining Windsor's historical character and heritage.
This is for those of you who believe in sound development practices and zoning measures that respectively heed petitons of existing residents regarding impacts and erosion of their neighborhoods leading to diminished property values due to increased traffic and safety issues.
FINALLY, This is for those of you who believe that education is a cornerstone to preparing our young for their futures which means spending money wisely and appropriately with a focus on quality of education and not quantity spending.
THEN, MY FRIENDS, YOU ARE INDEPENDENT MINDED AND YOUR VOTE WILL BE THE KEYSTONE TO CHANGE BASED ON PRINCIPLES AND NOT POLITICS AS USUAL!
ON NOVEMBER 3, VOTE ROW B
THE REPUBLICAN TEAM FOR THE INDEPENDENT MINDED.
OUR SLATE OF CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN BORN AND RAISED IN WINDSOR, CHERISH ITS HERITAGE, AND MUCH LIKE PAST REPUBLICAN LEADERS MARY DROST, WARREN JOHNSON AND BOB GEISEL SHARE YOUR LOVE OF WINDSOR.
Vote Row B – The Party of Ideas, Not Personal Attacks
Throughout this campaign season, the Republicans have refrained from making personal attacks on our Democratic opponents. Unfortunately, we have been under consistent attack by many Democrats. Ironically, the Democrats are running under the slogan of “Bringing Windsor Together” but have continued to sling personal attacks against Republicans again and again.
Instead of developing a platform of ways to improve our town and school system, they have resorted to calling Republicans liars and have claimed that we spread misinformation and falsehoods.
Rather than engage in a real discussion of the long term cost to run a pre-k program at Roger Wolcott, Democrats have attacked Republicans with claims of misrepresenting numbers. Recently, Democrat Cristina Santos has gone as far as saying that it’s inappropriate for elected officials to look into long term program costs. Republicans disagree – it is our job as elected officials to do the work and engage in an in depth review of any item that will cost Windsor taxpayers.
We have been attacked for allegedly spreading falsehoods about some Democrats wanting to change the budget referendum process, even though Democratic candidates and party leadership have mentioned this on several occasions, in writing and in public communications. We did not resort to name calling, or even singling these individuals out, we have simply stated that some Democrats are looking towards a change in the process, and that Republicans disagree and fully support the right of Windsor citizens to vote on the budget.
We have been subject to the criticism that Republicans would “do damage to the school system and harm Windsor’s children” which is why Board President Cristina Santos changed her party affiliation, when in fact it was the Board of Education Republicans that broke rank with Santos because of her inability to lead, to set aside her personal agenda, and to get down to the business of improving our school system. We have refrained from airing many of our grievances against her in an attempt to take the high road, however it is now clear that she fits well in a party that resorts to personal attacks rather than a discussion of the issues.
We have heard from Democrats that we have made up numbers concerning the budget, and that the citizens who voted against the budget were “misinformed.” Interestingly, in all of their talk about “misinformation”, the Democrats have been silent on the real issue – the fact that, no matter what calculation you use, we spend more than almost any other nearby district on our students. This, coupled with our low academic performance, is the real issue, and the Democrats have not disputed this, because they can’t. Instead they have sought to obscure this with their personal attacks. We believe rather than fighting about numbers we should be putting our effort into improving academic rigor, adopting clear and measurable expectations and outcomes for our students and finding ways to empower our teachers to make decisions in areas such as retention, grading and discipline.
The voters have a choice: a party of personal attacks, or a party of ideas. On November 3rd the choice should be very clear. Vote for a Republican team with real ideas and new approaches. Vote Row B November 3rd.
Repeated Budget Referendums, Why?
(Appeared first in The Windsor Journal)
Why did we have to have 5 referendums to pass our budget? I would argue that the Democratic majority refused to listen to anyone not advocating their message. A message the majority of voters repeatedly rejected. Let’s look at the largest issue: Pre-K for 3 & 4 year olds.
The administration and Democratic majority wanted to start a pre-school program for 60, 3 and 4 year olds in the Roger Wolcott building. According to the Superintendent the first year cost of this program was $1,454,000, or $24,233 per child. The first year NET cost was going to be the often quoted $194,000, the rest being paid for by State grants. While we were voting on the referendum, the Governor was cutting these grants in his State budget!
I asked for a 5 year cost of this program, and never got an answer. Why? The truth would not have helped sell this program. They instead went to attack me as providing false or misleading information, yet they never told us how it was false or misleading. The 5 year total cost of Wolcott was in excess of $10MM dollars, before grants. The net cost, after grants, I estimated at over $7MM, presuming we get all the grant money, and today that is questionable. That is a cost in the fifth year of close to $2MM of your tax dollars per year!
This program is still in the wings, and the Democratic majority wants this program regardless of cost. Were there alternatives that could be used, the answer is yes. In the haste to spend your tax dollars they were not interested in investigating these options.
Recent articles in the Washington Post question early childhood education and possible negative effects from starting school too early. In London, England, The Telegraph has had similar articles. In Finland, a world educational leader, they start formal education at 7, so what do they know?
The real question here is can we find ways of providing needed services in a cost effective manner for the benefit of all concerned. The Republicans will answer yes!; we will ask the hard questions and find cost effective solutions. You have a choice November 3rd agree to more and higher taxes, or vote to say Heck No!, and elect the Republican team
Member, Windsor Board of Education
Retention and Promotion in Windsor
Anyone interested in what is wrong with American public education in general, and Windsor Public Schools in particular, should watch the Windsor Board of Education special workshop meeting on student retention and promotion, which took place Monday, October 5, at our LP Wilson boardroom. Superintendent Cooke arranged the workshop in an apparent effort to bolster his refusal to apply the existing board policy on promotion, which requires students to meet minimum achievement criteria to be promoted to the next grade.
The workshop presenters Dr. Cooke hired were two advocates of social promotion – the practice of automatically promoting students without regard to achievement. One was a school psychologist from a regional educational center called EASTCONN, who presented nothing but unsupported “talking points” about the presumed damage and dangers of retention. The other presenter was a lawyer who wasted the Board’s time telling us that Special Education students can’t be retained.
The school psychologist made arbitrary assertions, with no data to support them. One wild claim was that at least 20% to 50% of all students are retained at least one time before the 9th grade! She had no data from any district in Connecticut to support this. By contrast, we know from our data that in Windsor hardly any student has been retained before the 9th grade in several recent years, and no more than 1% eighteen years ago. It would be very surprising if other districts had widely differing practices. The 20% to 50% figure is clearly a wild exaggeration.
Another wild claim was that retained students have emotional problems at a rate that is5 to 11 times as much as failing students who are not retained. This is unbelievably high and would be easy to confirm. But no data was provided.
Another preposterous statement was that 6th graders who had been retained “said that retention was as stressful as losing a parent”! Would any sixth grader say a thing like that?
Superintendent Cooke and the Democratic Board members accepted these and many other such unsupportable statements without a single question. The district is in serious trouble when such “research” is used to support social promotion.
The fact is that the Windsor Public Schools administration enforces no academic promotion standards at all at the elementary level, and extremely weak standards at the Middle School. The students cannot be held accountable by the teachers for their work, and have no objective reason to learn to take schoolwork seriously, unless their parents make them do it. They can easily learn that they are “entitled” to promotion, regardless of whether or not they exert any effort to learn. It is no wonder that Windsor and many other districts have had so many students scoring well below grade level on the standardized tests for several years.
Holding to firm standards for promotion of all regular education students is one of the essential changes needed to improve our student performance, and a Republican majority will make it a priority.
Member, Windsor Board of Educaiton
Ronald Eleveld WRTC Chair,.Budget Referendums are critical in controlling Spending
NEW INFORMATION: Does the budget referendum process save Windsor taxpayers money? Over the past 10 years the effective tax rate increase that was adopted by voters was approximately half the rate increase initially proposed by the Democratically controlled Town Council. Why do the Democrats want to avoid that check on spending? Why would THEY want to spend YOUR money without any restrictions?
The Democratic members of the Town Council and Board of Education who have been saying that they think that voting on the budget is an antiquated idea of local governance. These Democrats believe that elected officials should be able to set a budget without taxpayer review.
Windsor Republicans believe that the budget referendum is democracy in its purest form. Perhaps, if the State or Federal Government had a budget referendum, the constant shortfalls and deficits might not exist. Remember when the voters do not get to approve spending; spending can easily get out of control. Milton Friedman, the well known University of Chicago economist, noted that those who are spending other people's money are the least careful about the amount spent and how it is spent.
The most common argument against the budget referendum is that the voter turnout -- a range of 15% to 25% of eligible voters -- is not representative of the majority of all voters. The comparison is always made with Presidential and Gubernatorial election year cycles where we have over 75% and 50% voter turnout, respectively. However, when we compare the local referendums to the local municipal elections with a 20% to 25% voter turnout, the difference is not meaningful. If you want to use this argument, the local turnout is also not representative, and we would have to do away with local municipal elections altogether.
Another argument that has been made is that the budgets are complex and beyond the understanding of regular citizens. This is insulting to all residents, and begs the question: What makes our citizen representatives so much more able, intelligent, and knowledgeable than other citizens to approve a $100 million budget? All parties have access to the same publicly available documents. More importantly, they understand what they can afford to pay in local taxes. That last point that the taxes come out of their own pockets is the most important element.
The fact is that through a budget referendum, we hold our elected officials accountable, and have the right to reject their proposed budgets. The elected officials knowing this possibility must craft budgets that are responsible, and hopefully will be approved at referendum. The voters are a check on spending and we must respect the will of the voters. Why do the Democrats want to avoid that check on spending? Why would THEY want to spend YOUR money without any restrictions?
The Windsor Republican Town Committee, and all the Republican candidates, fully support the budget referendum process and the right of the voters to accept or reject Windsor’s Annual Budget. We believe that the best way to assure your right to vote to approve or reject the annual budget, is to vote for the Republican team. Please vote Row B and send a clear message. We want to be able to vote on the Budget at referendum.
Ronald Eleveld, WRTC Chair.
Let talk about the BoE budget Process
This year Windsor voters went through five referendums. The overlying issue was school spending. Our student enrollment as reported in the Board of Education budget documents declined over 2% at the same time the Democratic majority on the Board of Education wanted to increase spending by over 4%. The school administration, supported by the Democratic majority on the BoE, wanted to begin a project that would cost over $10 million in its first five years with less than 30% coming from the State. Recent news reports indicate the financial difficulties of the State may result in reduced local grants.
The continuing growth of the school budget, and the lack of academic improvement, has been of concern to the voters. At the September Board meeting Melissa Rizzo-Holmes, Paul Panos, Michaela Fissel and I brought forth several items that we believe needed to be addressed for the benefit of our students and our community.
> Zero-based budgeting. Financial experts suggest there are benefits to public spending by utilizing a zero-based budget approach versus the more typical incremental (% increase) budgetary approach.
> The Finance Committee needs to be empowered. Under the current Board leadership, the finance committee has had no power to discuss changes, modifications or adjustments to the budget including increases or decreases. Under prior leadership this has not been the case.
> We believe it is appropriate that the respective individuals responsible for the schools or departments should present their budgets. We also believe it would be appropriate to approve each school and/or department separately. This approach is used by the Town Council and we believe would be beneficial for all concerned.
> We believe that a public forum in December is too late. The departments present their budgets at the end of November. We believe a November forum would make more sense. This would allow the administration to understand the concerns of the public as they are preparing their budgets.
> Lastly, we believe it is appropriate at this time that the Board of Education bring in a financial analyst to review how we have been spending our taxpayer dollars. We believe a 3 year review would serve our community well, and allow us to better understand the finances of an organization that spends over $70 million per year of local tax dollars, not including additional State and Federal tax dollars.
During the discussion of the budget process, some of the Democratic BoE members expressed their concern with the budget referendum. They implied that the voters should not have the right to approve our Town budget at referendum. The Windsor Republican Town Committee strongly supports the budget referendum which gives the voters the right to approve our Town budget that directly impacts the taxes on our houses and cars.
Windsor Republicans Support the Referendum!
The budget referendum has been challenged recently by Democrats who disapprove of the recent referendum results. The Windsor Republicans support the Budget Referendum as the most powerful tool of the democratic will of the people. The Democrats seek to acquire more power by taking away yours.
We ask you to stand with us in defense of your rights this November and vote Row B.
Paid for by the Windsor Republican Town Committee
William Correia, Treasurer