A New ‘Town Conversation’
To the Editor:
Every resident should begin to think about the increased taxes produced by a 2.7 percent increase in the inflated school budget, which is open to resident discussions and opinions. There is a growing opposition to the continuous spending increases in spite of a decline in student population of more than 1,400 students. Furthermore, this dramatic change in student population more than ever warrants the closing of one of the schools. The student population since 2006–07 school year has declined by 26 percent. But an additional $17 million has been added to the inflated budget since then. How can any rational voter continue to approve even a 2.7 percent budget increase?
Yet the superintendent and the Board of Education are trying to justify spending more money using incomplete charts and graphs. But the recent letter dated January, 20, 2019, sent to The Bee by a former member of the Board of Finance, Joe Kearney, presents a more realistic historical analysis of our increased spending. Isn’t it about time that Newtown residents convince others to demand a “zero increase” in the school budget?
Consider another fact: the additional $17 million spent in the last ten years has not had remarkable impact on improving students’ ability to excel in math, science, and in the language arts. In comparison with other surrounding towns, recent published reports show their performance declined. But if you are not convinced about this idea, consider a few significant reputable sources, one from Harvard University and the other from the World Economic Forum 2022 (WEF) which identify new emerging priorities for success in college and in the workplace. These new skills and abilities involve creative and critical thinking, complex problem solving, analytical thinking, and emotional intelligence. The WEF 2022 report identifies declining work skills that will be in less demand due to automation and artificial intelligence. They include memory skills, auditory and spatial abilities, as well as manual dexterity, management of personnel, and technology use.
In addition, the same Harvard study by Professor Tony Wagner stated that 65 percent of college professors claim that new students do not have the reasoning skills and literacy necessary for success in college. It is no wonder that students’ minds are not developed to face their future. Students should be excited about lifelong learning, but they are not.
As a taxpayer at a Board of Finance meeting, I recently proposed a “conversation meeting,” which was approved. The meeting is scheduled for March 7, at 5:30 pm, in the library for anyone interested in listening or discussing issues, including other tax concerns and including Lamont’s new proposals. I invited all elected officials, including the BOE chairperson and others from the Legislative Council and the Board of Finance. The BOE chairperson responded they could not attend because they could not find time to attend. I was surprised to get this response.
Dr Rudy Magnan
60 Watkins Drive, Sandy Hook February 27, 2019
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