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The Future Of The Board Of Education

Chairman Loses, As Republicans Take Control And Look To Corporate Sponsorships

Waterford was voting Republican, especially for the Board of Education.

, Jessica McLaughlin and Chairman Donald Blevins, while all four Republicans, two of whom were newcomers, won. Going into the election, the Democrats had a 5-4 advantage on the board, now the Republicans hold a 6-3 advantage.

“I think the Republicans did well because they ran a very successful campaign, and you have to give them credit,” said Sheri Cote, the sole Democrat to win a spot Tuesday. “Luckily for the Board of Education, we don’t play politics, and we will be able to move the district forward."

Blevins

Blevins has been on the Board of Education for 12 years, and involved in Waterford politics for 22 years. Blevins said he was “disappointed,” and said it was likely he would not run again any time soon.

“Maybe it was time to step aside,” he said. “I don’t think (I’ll run again in 2013), I had to think fairly hard if I wanted to run this time.”

, when he was the sole Board of Education member to vote against cutting $5,000 for conferences for Board of Education members. Other board members argued it was wrong to keep the money for conferences as programs and teachers were cut, but Blevins argued it was a necessity.

“I understand it is a symbolic gesture and we all to have to tighten our belts,” said Blevins, who said he would not change his vote. “But if we didn’t try to educate ourselves and keep abreast of developments in the field, we would be negligent.”

Blevins said he would continue to work with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, of which he currently chairman. He said he would continue to follow the Board of Education.

Corporate Sponsorships

Over the past couple of weeks, board members Kathleen McCarty and Jody Nazarchyk, both endorsed by the Republicans, said repeatedly they want to to save programs like freshman sports. With a Republican-controlled Board of Education, that becomes more likely, McCarty said.

“I think that is where we are headed,” she said election night.

In March of 2010, Lee Goss and Barbara LaFever asked the Board of Education’s policy committee to change the rules to allow corporate sponsorships. Blevins opposed those changes, according to meeting minutes.

With Blevins gone, Goss is confident the policy can be changed, and corporate sponsorships allowed. Goss is even more confident he can get the money necessary to fund freshman sports,

“I guarantee I can get (enough money), you can write that,” Goss said. “With my eyes closed.”

Goss said he had enough money to fund freshman sports in 2010. However, Blevins, Cote and then-superintendent Randall Collins, when asked Wednesday, all said it was less money than needed.

Cote also worried about sponsorships coming and going. Businesses are looking for savings every year, and while they may donate once, it might not be every year, she said.

“What if we get the money to fund freshman sports this year, and then don’t get it next, are we going to cut freshman sports again?” Cote said. “We don’t want to be a yo-yo.”

R Lee Balderdash November 10, 2011 at 02:31 PM
The Town of Waterford was incorporated in 1801- so much for not allowing corporate sponsorship of sports teams- they've been corporate sponsored all along. The question to ask is- 'Is sports a function of government?' No. Forcing taxpayers tro fund other peoples recreational choices is just wrong.
BJ November 10, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Well said RLB. Cote said: “We don’t want to be a yo-yo.” No, YOU do not want to be a yo-yo, but you want to keep the taxpayers tightly wound on a string while you jerk them around; controlling them at your bidding to do as you say. The "occupy" crowd is a fine example of what the public schools are graduating into the real world. They think everything should be funded by someone else, and if it exists they are entitled to it. Get the liberals out of the schools and we would NOT have this issue, in the mean time private sponsorship is an excellent way to introduce the students to the real world. Corporations are NOT the enemy, the government is!!!!
Paul Petrone (Editor) November 10, 2011 at 04:33 PM
I just wanted to add that Cote said she wants to establish a finance committee, to hopefully find areas to cut in the budget to find "sustainable" funding for programs such as freshman sports. The concept of a finance committee will be discussed by the policy committee soon.
BJ November 10, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Thanks for the update Paul. This is exactly why no one with common sense runs for government offices. It defies all logic as to why they need a "committee" to find areas to cut, finding things to cut in the school budget is about as hard as finding an oak tree in CT.
Teresa Schlotman Wilensky November 10, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Many, many people with common sense run for government offices and serve in government offices. Because someone disagrees with you does not mean they lack sense, it means they have a different idea. In the years I have been active in Waterford government, I have met many people with whom I have disagreed but most of them came to service for the same reason I did; because they wanted to work for the best for the town. Funding for sports in schools is not "funding someone's recreational choices", it is providing an education. There is so much to learn in participating in school sports. I believe corporate sponsorships are potentially a great source of funding for the schools but I believe that prudence would dictate that the idea be thoroughly investigated before we put a price tag on our fields and facilities to make sure that we know what we are getting and what, if any, the unintended consequences may be.
Tim Fioravanti November 10, 2011 at 07:28 PM
Teresa - I agree. Well said.
BJ November 10, 2011 at 09:53 PM
PP, TSW, TF: Interesting take on "common sense," personal responsibility, and opinion. Paul, how does one run for a position they believe should NOT exists? Should someone who is against the death penalty get a job as an executioner? The founders established a constitution with the over riding principle being LIMITING government, yet at every opportunity the "volunteers" as well as paid professionals do just the opposite. It is the taxpayers who are being "attacked." My comments are just words, they have no power over these people, yet their polices have a HUGE impact on the rest of us; and you are saying that I am a "big baby" for not joining with my attacker. Curious opinion. You do not need a poll to ban me from this forum, if you want me gone just ask me to keep quiet I will respect your decision. Teresa, in government "opinion" is for things that are NOT covered directly, or in principle, in the constitution; those incidents should be extremely rare. Common sense applied to the constitution is pretty straight forward, I do not know about your "opinion," but to me "common sense" speaks load and clear: "you do NOT spend other peoples money unless there is NO other option."
R Lee Balderdash November 10, 2011 at 10:58 PM
"There is so much to learn in participating in school sports." People can learn every waking moment of their day if they want to. Heck, you could even learn something from beating your head into a concrete wall- doesn't mean government should provide a wall for you to beat your head into.
Rick Beaney November 10, 2011 at 11:59 PM
RLB: We've had this conversation before so I won't waste too much of my typing. You just don't realize or won't admit that part of a well-rounded education includes sports, arts, music, drama, etc..Do you realize that people actually go on to have careers in these fields? I'm guessing you just don't like those activities so they must be worthless in your mind. I'm glad you are in the minority with those feelings. I lean conservative in nature but you and BJ are extremists and I have a feeling that you don't think government should be involved in providing street lights, traffic signals, paved roads to travel on, police/fire, etc... You two guys (or is it gals since you won't use your real names) are pretty scary.
Suzanne Sturm November 11, 2011 at 12:04 AM
Well said Teresa.
Rick Beaney November 11, 2011 at 12:06 AM
As a general comment on freshmen sports: I still think they should be offered as they were as they are beneficial programs for the students (remember them?). But if they will not be without some type of additional funding, I still think that pay-to-participate is a better long-term option than sponsorship. It would provide a stable and consistent funding source without the risk of sponsors falling short one year, but ok the next year, etc... The majority of people who spoke at this year's BOE meetings on this topic were overwhelmingly in favor of it and i still feel the BOE dropped the ball and made the wrong decision on not adopting it. I hope the new BOE does a better job and gets freshmen sports reinstated and in a way that this issue will not arise again.
BJ November 11, 2011 at 02:05 AM
Rick: Do you get out of Connecticut much? Ever spent time talking/working/living with folks in the "red" states? I cannot speak for R Lee, but NOTHING I have ever posted here would be considered an "extreme" view by 70-90% of the population of those states. The value of sports and culture are not the question, the question is should the government FORCE people to pay for it? If they have value, then it should stand on its own (i.e. intuitively obvious that it should be funded, and people will voluntarily do just that). Should the government be involved in: "...street lights, traffic signals, paved roads to travel on, police/fire, etc." Those decisions can be handled at a local level, as they make sense at a local level, but why assume the government should do it, or that it makes sense for them to do it? UPS and FeEx are both profitable private companies that put the USPS to shame, yet we continue to pump billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the USPS everyday, why? Private industry will always do it better than the government, so why not embrace reality? There are thousands of private schools in the US and they offer a BETTER education for LESS, yet we hold onto the government run model, why? What about Amtrak, same story? And on and on. I am open to ideas that work, I just don't see that the government has any, perhaps you can enlighten me to what I am missing.
Tim Fioravanti November 11, 2011 at 03:06 AM
I was just looking through some of my videos and noticed that 11 of the 17 members of this band went on to have a career in music. A comprehensive high school (like WHS) is designed to offer a variety of opportunities. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Jv3a-s_tBA&feature=channel_video_title
BJ November 11, 2011 at 12:34 PM
Tim: The argument is NOT against having a music (or sports, or drama, or...) program, but rather who should pay for it; and the larger part of that: those who are FORCED to pay for things they think should NOT be in school. I think that (65% of students that chose to be in the band went on to careers in music) is a great example of why I would VOLUNTRAILY support the program (or why I would pay to have MY child in it), but it should NOT be supported with tax dollars. Schools with ROTC programs have an exponentially higher rate of students that go onto military careers, but not everybody is for that. Ease up on the punitive tax burden and there will be MORE money available for all kinds of programs that individuals, groups, and corporations would not only sponsor, but also actively promote and participate in.
Tim Fioravanti November 11, 2011 at 01:17 PM
What I am saying is that the taxpayers of the town chose to have a comprehensive high school. This means that all programs involved will be payed for by the taxpayers, including the arts and sports. The community elects the people to represent them on the Board of Education, thereby giving them the authority to make the decisions regarding what kind of education will be offered and supported by tax dollars. The B. of Ed. recognizes that there is more to life than just reading, writing and arithmetic. I feel that I have been fortunate enough to work for a B. of Ed. that understands the needs of the students in our community. They have made changes over the years to keep up with the times. The larger community values sports and the arts and are willing to pay for it through tax dollars.
R Lee Balderdash November 11, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Rick, roads are a necessary part of the functioning of government; that is why post roads are provided for in our constitution. There had to be a way for the people, states, and federal government to correspond for government to function, thus, the USPS. Nowhere in our constitution does it provide for the establishment of public education. Granted, citizens must know how to read to understand their constitution and do math to pay their taxes, but music, arts and sports have absolutely nothing to do with government.
BJ November 11, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Really, the taxpayers chose that? If that is the case then no one should be opposed to making property taxes voluntary. Everybody can choose an amount they want to pay and designate it for what they want to support. You cannot have a forced tax system AND say that people have a choice. If the "larger community" supports something, then why do you need to tax EVERYONE? Let those who value something pay for what they value. Why are you opposed to the choice? Why is anybody opposed to the freedom to actually choose where our money is spent? Logic/common sense, anyone?
Erin Ashley November 11, 2011 at 09:28 PM
(side note: Clark County School District is the 5th biggest in the country, and Nevada public schools usually rank 49th in the country. Connecticut, on the other hand, consistently ranks in the top 3.) I probably wouldn’t have gone to college without the money I got. I certainly wouldn’t have matured and grown the way I did. Public education isn’t supposed to be about creating drones that can pass standardized exams and not have an original thought in their mind. We are supposed to be created well-rounded citizens who can contribute to society, in whatever way they are best suited to. Engineers and astrophysicists need arts and sports just as much as anyone else. Teaching freshman undergrads at UNLV has shown me what playing to the lowest common denominator does to the intelligence of a student. These kids don’t know how to think for themselves, and are not concerned with learning or innovation so much as test scores. They want to do the bare minimum necessary, and I don’t think it’s because there’s something in the water.
Erin Ashley November 11, 2011 at 09:31 PM
And why is it that people without kids are always bitching about property taxes and funding the schools? Do you really want a bunch of bored teenagers loitering in your neighborhood without anything constructive to do? And by the way, someone paid for your public education, and it wasn't just the people with kids.
Erin Ashley November 11, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Here in Las Vegas, many activities are pay-to-play, and from my observation it only punishes the very kids who need those opportunities. Not everyone is lucky enough to have $700 lying around for EACH child to do ONE activity. I know a kid who plays club soccer in addition to pay-to-play school soccer; his family spends $500 on the high school team, $700 for club fees and $100/mo on coaching fees. AND he has to be driven 40 minutes away to practices, and each tournament is another $150 to play in. They’re doing it because the club coach works at UNLV, and uses that team as a garm situation for the university team. Those kids certainly aren’t paying for their bachelor’s degrees. And that starts at this level: If teens don’t have activities to get into, they find something else to do (ie drugs and alcohol) and most likely disengage from school. Activities are what get a kid scholarships, good grades are just expected and usually bring little financial reward for college. The kids whose parents can’t afford the activities are EXACTLY who need to earn scholarships the most!
Erin Ashley November 11, 2011 at 09:32 PM
I come from a family with four kids. If my family had to pay for me to do marching band, jazz band, concert band, choir, jazz choir, musicals, etc. I would not have been able to participate. Buying me a horn (~$3,000) to audition for college was hard enough. When the band went on trips for competitions to Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach and a few other places, I fundraised all my trip money selling 10lb boxes of oranges. I got to go to Drum Major Academy with George Parks (RIP) in West Chester, PA, and to the University of Delaware for concert band camp each summer FREE of charge because of the generosity of the band program and by my own merit. But that merit would have been impossible to achieve without being able to play on a school-owned horn and the benefit of so many ensembles. I live in Las Vegas now, am studying for my master's degree in horn performance at UNLV, and frequently perform in shows on the Strip, mainly The Lion King and Phantom: Las Vegas. I went to the Hartt School in West Hartford on that $80k scholarship and a couple WHS Band scholarships; without the experiences I was able to have, REGARDLESS of ability to pay, I would not be who I am today.
Erin Ashley November 11, 2011 at 09:32 PM
BJ: I'm the second in from the left playing mellophone in that video Mr. F posted. Without the WHS Band program I don’t know where I would be today. Band gave me a purpose, a group of friends to identify with, kept me out of trouble for the most part, and filled my resume with community service and a comprehensive list of extra curricular activities that allowed me to get my $80,000 of scholarship money to a private conservatory. I played on a WHS school horn (paid for by taxpayers!) until my senior year.
Erin Ashley November 11, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Bj, it's called a democracy. Majority rules, and the majority wanted a good comprehensive education for their kids. If you don't like it, move! No one is making you stay here and pay property taxes. If you've ever been outside Connecticut, you know there's plenty of room for cantankerous, self-centered people in the Mojave Desert. Of course, then you'd have to deal with roaming illegal Mexicans, but hey, life is a compromise.
Erin Ashley November 11, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Here's a "red" state take on fee based services: http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/local/Firefighters-watch-as-home-burns-to-the-ground-104052668.html Wow, I really want to move to Tennessee... Those "red" states have the right idea.
John Sheehan November 12, 2011 at 01:58 AM
Erin - Thanks for your insight to the success of the Waterford music program. I have also seen many scientists and mathimaticians who are also gifted musicians. It seems that music develops the same part of the brain as mathimatics. I certainly expect that any pay to play program in Waterford will have a scholarship component for those students whose parents are not able to make the payments. Good luck at UNLV.
Tim Fioravanti November 12, 2011 at 02:23 PM
John - I agree. I play with a band called Jump Swing Fever. Some of our members are scientists and mathematicians, some are in music as a profession. People always tell me, "the smart kids do music." My response is, "They are smart BECAUSE they do music." Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfO658teCGU&feature=channel_video_title
BJ November 13, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Erin: Congratulations on your success. I love your passion for the music program (and the subject we are on), but I have to disagree with both your conclusion and your understanding of governance and the economy. It is difficult (at best) to put labels on “types of governments” because there are no “pure forms” and most of the terms are derived more often from political figures than goals/definitions. Your ideal is more a form of socialism than democracy; and what I am advocating is closer to (albeit over idealistic) pure democracy. In other words, if the people really wanted all the things we are told we want (“voted for”), property tax would be unnecessary, we would just write checks to fund the things we supposedly want (unless of course we assume “someone else” will pay for it). Additionally the class warfare that politicians insist exists is what keeps them in power (if we reduce taxes xyz will happen; and if you vote for me I will make sure that does not happen, in fact I will also give you abc). We are mere puppets in their game of power. The constitution was written to LIMIT the power of government and empower the people, yet what we have today is out of control government power that has created a huge voting block of dependent people. You THINK you were dependent on the government (via the taxpayers) for your music education, but that is NOT true (case and point: where did the $80,000 come from?).
BJ November 13, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Erin: You are free to think of me as “cantankerous, and self-centered” but just the opposite is true. And yes I have been outside of CT, and I have seen things from all over this nation (and the world). I am advocating for people to see that they are NOT dependent on the government, that they CAN do things on their own; in fact it is the government that is holding them back. (I will say the following because I am cowardly anonymous here) I donate more money to charities and causes that help people realize this fact than I spend on myself. Space constraints do not allow me to fully explain, but the lie that the government is the answer, and that taxing people less will hurt “people” is destroying the very people they SAY they want to help.
George M November 17, 2011 at 02:50 AM
Bj Do you think we'll ever live in this world you see?
BJ November 17, 2011 at 12:59 PM
GM: Good question, but hard to answer. To say no is to give up hope. To say yes it WILL happen might be too optimistic. I believe our founders got off to the right start (personal freedom, and equality based on unalienable rights), but they made many compromises to "make it happen." Moving forward... instead of the United States having a positive influence on the rest of the world (by our example of democracy), we began a steady slide to where the elite rule (with an oppressive hand); and the surfs are undereducated (by design the education system utilizes propaganda), thus the surfs (us) spend their time scrambling for crumbs from the "king's" table. George, I cannot give up hope, and I MUST speak the truth, but I cannot make people listen (but I seem to be good at making people mad). I do not know where you are in your politics, but I do know that you would like people to be seen as people (not labeled by their sexual orientation). Will we ever live in that world? Maybe not, but will you give-up doing your part to make it happen?

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