A point to remember at tomorrow night’s redistricting meeting of the BOE (at GHS, 7:00 PM)

I hold in my hand a list of every white child in Greenwich, and I want them moved

I hold in my hand a list of every white child in Greenwich;  I want them moved

The BOE is bound to raise overcrowding as an impetus for redistricting, and no doubt it is. But the rush to come up with a plan is because of race, and the redistricting decisions will be based on race. No one wants overcrowded schools when there are other schools with excess capacity. Only the school board and the state (and the editors of Greenwich Time) however, want to use a student’s race (as defined by each school’s secretary, apparently) as a basis for assigning him to a particular school.

Again, this is not about disparate achievement levels at the school. The new superintendent admitted as much last night.

McKersie emphasized that education officials’ scrutiny of New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue did not reflect inferior academics.

“Your schools are excellent,” he said. “The question is how the district is organized to have the students in your school.”

They’ll dress it up tomorrow night, bring in their landscape architectural experts (I kid you not) to talk about population trends in various districts, wave their arms and blow some smoke, but it’s all about race, and that’s illegal. Remind them of that. Forcefully.

52 Comments

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52 responses to “A point to remember at tomorrow night’s redistricting meeting of the BOE (at GHS, 7:00 PM)

  1. We already know the answers….
    They were answered last night at the Land Use Committee venue (which by the way in an act of nomonical prejudice Peter Tesei , Peter Berg and Peter Quigley were outstanding). The State Mandated Plan Of Continuous Dabblement was re-foisted.
    A State restricts us and demands that we….
    B We “are working on it, everything will be fine”
    C Staff has to be increased
    D More money is needed
    Only Tesei, Berg and Quigley spoke to the need for rational low cost, less red tape, fewer outsource “experts” that would help citizen landowners.
    As a proud Landscape Architect not squirming under the foot of PEbrain driven non planning grant seeking culture of institutional incompetence people are getting closer to demanding a say in the future of our Town.
    Looking forward to working with my fellow First Apostle Town lovers.

  2. hmmm

    How did Misa take precedence over the facilities utilization issue

    Classes at new leb are being held in the bathroom and the boe has been talking about misa

    What’s more insulting is that the new leb parents have been asleep at the switch. district 4 voted for misa when they should have been pushing for a bigger school

  3. Anon

    Best. Photo. Caption. Ever.

  4. hmmm

    we need to sue to have a stay put in place then we need to win the boe in november have the boe/town take over the lawsuit and if that doesn’t work then we just need to sue to victory!

  5. Anonymous

    Pitchforks, torches, rotten eggs and tomatoes might not get the job done.

    CT lawmakers voted to revise CT’s assault weapons ban to EXEMPT many state officials from compliance. including employees of the DMV, energy, and environment departments. The GPS BOE staff exemption is probably buried in the fine print.

    The Senate approved the revisions 33-1.

    Rotten government, corrupt government, dishonest government.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/conn-lawmakers-revise-gun-control-legislation-19316598#.Ua3Tb5xNjIF

    • CatoRenasci

      Tar and feathers, an old American tradition. Hanging in effigy. Actually running an independent party slate for BoE which promises, if elected, to resist “racial balancing” as unconstitutional.

  6. Mickster

    The funniest thing I read in that GT article is one parent accusing Realtors of steering people into that neighborhood. Can’t make that stuff up.

    Here’s a crazy idea:
    1. Police the school to stop NY kids from attending;
    2. Have Immigration officials at the school’s front door every morning;
    3. Have entrance exams to make sure that new kids can speak English; and
    4. When you reach the State’s acceptable minority limit, stop registering.

    I guarantee you steps 1 and 2 would cure this imbalance in the morning.
    No millions of dollars in consultants fees, busing, lawsuits etc.

    And pullease don’t tell anyone that the academic levels at NL and Ham are anywhere near a par with the elementary schools on the Eastern side of Town

    • cos cobber

      Mickster, that was a pretty amazingly ignorant post and not at all helpful. English exam; really?

      • Well, it would weed out the Irish.

      • Mickster

        You’re absolutely right,CC. It’s just sometimes you get so frustrated watching elected and unelected buffoons who often don’t have a ‘dog in the fight’ (their kids are in private school or they have no kids in school) make idiotic decisions for us.
        That people now have to go screaming to meetings to make sure this madness stops now is also ridiculous.
        I also scream (to myself) at the size and expense of this school administration that produces an average education at best compared to other communities.
        Our part-time second rate town politicos have allowed the town’s public service to balloon to a level that will keep us in debt for a long time.
        Our state and Congressional reps seem very quiet on this subject…are their kids in public schools?

        • No more "Parents with Agendas" needed on BOE

          You are crazy to think that only parents of public school children should be BOE members. Don’t we all pay taxes? This is how we got in this mess, was by having all ex-PTA types on the BOE – some of them went into politics afterwards (Lile Gibbons and now Nancy Weissler wants to). They have an inherent bent to spend as much of our money on Schools as possible. Lots of hair-brained schemes dreamt up by the PTA moms have become bloated projects that suck the budget. Are you so naive to think that it’s a coincidence the BOE waited till 2 weeks after MISA approval to spring this latest sh*tshow on us? We need MORE objective resident taxpayers on these boards, not the people who stand to win politically or whose kids stand to win from throwing money at the problem. Greenwich taxpayers, stand up and get involved or watch the priorities and future of this great town become unrecognizable.

  7. Anonymous

    Does anyone know what the New Leb and Ham Ave parents were saying at last night’s meeting? The Greenwich Times article suggests they were pushing the BoE to accelerate the timetable for implementing redistricting. Is this right? Is that what the majority of these parents really want?

    Separately – I agree we should first encourage the BoE to challenge the State. But if that fails and redistricting is the only option left …..isn’t there an obvious solution? On the one hand you have New Leb and HA (both with high % minority and capacity issues), on the other Parkway and North Street (both low % minority and with extra capacity). Don’t these fix each other’s problems?

    • InfoDiva

      Easiest thing if it weren’t for the racial imbalance issue would be to send some Glenville School students who live closest to North Street School there, freeing up space at Glenville for New Leb and Ham Ave kids.

      You all in Riverside and OG would love this solution and it’s the easy and obvious fix for the NL overcrowding, but it’s not going to happen. I wrote months ago on Chris’ blog about the plan for a change up at the schools on the eastern side of town and you scoffed at the very idea. In fact, this has been on the agenda for a very long time. If having your kid at Riverside or OG is the only reason you’re buying there, you might want to put up with that Manhattan apartment for a while or secure a place at a private school. This is not going away.

      • Cos Cobber

        Try not to be so happy about it.

        • InfoDiva

          I have no skin in this game. No kids in the schools, no property that could be affected, no real estate franchise to protect.

          Merely stating the facts as I have heard them from long-time locals who know what’s up.

      • Anonymous

        Why is it “not going to happen”?. One of the objectives espoused by the BoE was to minimize travel time/disruption.

        As per page 7 of the report dated May 23 – one of the guiding principles is to “Minimize changes to the neighborhood attendance areas and the amount of time it takes to transport students to and from school”.

        So why would a solution include busing from west side of town to the east or vice versa?

        • InfoDiva

          You don’t get it. The obvious solution to the overcrowding is being ignored because of the greater agenda here.

        • Anonymous

          What greater agenda are you referring to? Racial imbalance? Because that is fixed by the obvious solution also. Have you taken a look at the % of minorities in Parkway? Low, low, low.

  8. Anonymous

    Mickster….the majority of property taxes pay for schools. Even if a resident doesn’t have a kid in the system it doesnt mean they should be excluded in the conversation.

    Now, if the parents choose to spend $45 MILLION dollars on an Auditoritum vs fixing up the tired, crowded schools….well, then, that is parent choice….but don’t exclude the taxpayer in the discussion of footing the damn bill.

    • Mickster

      Anon, I was actually referring to membership of the BOE.
      Obviously, as a taxpayer you should have input in any conversation that relates to your interests. That we would agree to spend that kind of money when our infrastructure is so badly in need of updating shows where the priorities lie.

      • No more "Parents with Agendas" needed on BOE

        Members of the BOE get to direct the expediture of 2/3 of this town’s operating budget yearly. They also have a huge say in the capital expenditure (see $45million ++ for MISA). So please do not draw such a fine line in recommending that non-parents or parents of private school kids be excluded from that body. In addition, Mickster, do you know what percentage of households in Greenwich have a child who attends the Greenwich Public Schools? Depending on the data, it’s about 20%. So we will limit the Board membership of the most powerful board in town to the 20% of residents who have school kids at GPS? Absurd.
        P.S. We should all be kissing the behinds of the private school parents who happily pay their tax bill each year in addition to school fees, ensuring that our public school kids have enough money in the budget. Instead of treating them in this conversation like elitists who should be shunned.

  9. Walt

    Dude –
    I have this image of you sitting in your little basement bunker, wearing your Army helmet and chomping on a cigar, pacing frantically and scribbling your strategy and tactics against the BOE up on a white board. Just like that great Civil War General, George S. Patton!!

    Should I call for a filibuster? A PROTEST MARCH!! Rotten eggs? Perhaps we toilet paper the school? Unleash crickets in the meeting hall? Have a dozen pizzas that they didn’t order get delivered! WITH ANCHOVIES!!

    You brilliant strategist you. You know I am right!!

    “All successful commanders are prima donnas and must be so treated”.
    You frigging little Mary.
    Your Pal,
    Walt

    • In fact, George Patton served in Korea, where he gained eternal fame for leading the charge up Bunker Hill, but otherwise, yes, you’ve caught me out.

  10. JR

    I can’t wait for the BoE to tell the parents in town, of any district, that they have a plan and we should trust them.
    This from the wonderfully competent organization that has brought us the Hamilton Ave fiasco, the MISA fiasco (love it or hate it), new report cards that report nothing, and an unending drama of dysfunction and inability.Trust us they will tell us all, this time we have a plan…

    • Mr. 85 Broad Street

      When the comment was made at last week’s meeting by the BOE chairperson about “not setting a bad example for the children by breaking a state law”, my first thought (which I was polite enough not to share unlike some others in the audience – you know who I mean blogger who was sitting in the second row) was, gee, isn’t this the same board that violated the town charter and state law when they tried to cover up the cost overruns on the North Mianus School parking lot?

  11. Anonymous

    Let’s stop all the PC BS – this move, as InfoDiva correctly predited, is the liberals on the BOE wanting to desegregate our school system with busing.

    • CatoRenasci

      Well, in the South, massive resistance to desegregation primarily consisted of withdrawing the white kids from the public schools – every church in town except uberliberal First Congo could start (or go together on) Christian academies to take the overflow from the kids who couldn’t get into or afford the existing private schools. Add grades 9-12 to Greenwich Catholic. Defund the public schools. Let the BoE eat cake.

      • CatoRenasci

        Oh, there are also already Jewish schools in town which could also expand… didn’t mean to leave them out – though some of parents might want to opt for the diversity option like the First Congo crowd…

  12. Long Time Central Greenwich Resident

    The point about New Lebanon and Hamilton Avenue parents’ desires is critical here. If most people who are in those schools do not want to go to those schools, the town should consider better long run options for dealing with this. It is not a busing issue, except for busing people out of those two schools, if that is what most people in the two districts want. Glenville, North Street and Parkway offer a lot of options for expansion of enrollment.

    It seems like no one who is in any of the other districts wants to go into those schools, so the town’s only option to comply with the rules being imposed here may be to close Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon and move their faculty and administration to other elementary schools.

    That is a good solution, if parents in Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon are comfortable traveling a little farther. I should would be if it were my kid.

    • uwgb

      The reason some NL and Ham Ave parents don’t want their kids to attend these schools is because they are aware that their kids are attending school with lower income immigrant populations exactly like themselves and not being exposed to more diverse kids from (higher) socio-economic backgrounds. If they are bussed en masse to a couple of other schools, that same issue will follow them there. Programs like ALP already create a ‘school within a school’ in some buildings, e.g. Julian Curtiss, where the advanced classes are all white and Asian. There are no perfect answers to everything, and busing is a terrible answer to societal issues that schools cannot by themselves solve. The bottom line is that students from poorly educated immigrant families generally take awhile to catch up with the mainstream population in terms of educational achievement and income. I’m sure my Irish ancestors fleeing the potato famine of 1847 were not as well off as their American neighbors when they first arrived on these shores. In fact I know they were not. I seriously doubt that any instant social engineering solutions foisted upon the already settled Americans my ancestors settled amongst would have hastened their prosperity and progress.

  13. New Leb Parent

    As a New Lebanon parent, I want to put in my two cents and possibly balance out the misinformation being spread here. Firstly, Chris erred in posting an old map from an old redistricting proposal. It’s pretty unlikely that Riverside will be affected much by any solution that is put in place. They are under capacity. So, maybe the lines would be re-drawn to include some OG kids and some CC kids? That won’t have much of an effect on the property values in Riverside. Secondly, NL parents actually like the diversity in their school. Seriously. I know it’s shocking to think that a white person like me might be happy that my child is in the minority but I am. It’s a tightly knit, proud neighborhood. It’s not a ghetto. Come use our library in the afternoon or come to a fundraiser or event. So, most of us are fine with anyone wanting to challenge the state on their questionable statute. The concerns raised by NL parents about delaying this process stem from our overcrowding issues. I’m sure none of you would be happy to learn that your child is being instructed on the school’s stage or that the school psychologist has an office in a former closet. We need to know that there is a contingency plan for us should the process be delayed. We’ve been ignored for so many years, we need some funding and support to ease our problems. Thirdly, regarding our “low performance”, I’d like to point out that John Curtain said at a recent meeting that 22 Riverside kids were redshirted this year. An entire classroom of 6 year-old kindergarteners. Given the economics of Byram, most families are anxious to get their children into public school as early as possible and redshirting is rare. This is part of the performance imbalance. And, if you look at our school’s numbers more closely, you will find that white children test about as well as those in other schools. ESL kids don’t perform as well because the tests are not in their native language. The education our children are getting is very good. We’re not proponents of busing, we LOVE our neighborhood school. We just want our kids to be in reasonably-sized classes with the same facilities as other schools.

    • New Leb Parent

      I will also add that Hamilton Avenue is not overcrowded. The only school with a double-whammy is New Leb. And, NOBODY wants busing. Redistricting, which would be a hardship for anyone doesn’t necessarily mean that kids from one side of town would be bused to another. One very plausible outcome is that one or two schools will become full magnets and those neighborhoods will be redistricted. And from where I sit, the town is likely to chose New Leb and Ham Ave as the schools to turn into full magnets and OUR kids will be bused to your neighborhoods. Or, they will diminish the size of our district to create more magnet seats in our school. Please don’t contribute to the insanity by spreading more misinformation. Please attend the meetings and read the materials and be thoughtful about our ENTIRE community before you go on the warpath. I’m not knocking the warpath, I’m on it, but for different reasons.

    • All good points, New Leb, except your claim that I “erred” in posting the 2007 busing map. It was the BOE itself that posted that map, this year, when it sent out its information package on redistribution. The superintendent now says the map is not relevant and it was re-released only as a historical curiosity; by that reasoning, they should have sent along a copy of the Magna Carta. They say it’s not being considered; fine: my purpose in publishing it was to make certain we drove a stake through its heart. I believe we succeeded.

      • New Leb Parent

        While I applaud your ability to rouse a healthy portion of the citizens of this town into action, I feel like posting the map out of context (you cropped out the 2007 date from the map and stated that it was the “new proposed school board redistricting plan”) and with an alarmist implication that Riverside kids would be bused to western Greenwich resulted in a meeting in which many parents came out fighting something that wasn’t even on the table. From my point of view, many, if not most, of the questions asked at that meeting were based on misleading information posted on your blog and in the comments on your posts. You even acknowledged being the source when you spoke. I know you’re not a journalist per se but it came off as irresponsible to me and while I think that some of the issues surrounding constitutionality do need to be thoughtfully addressed, lawsuit or not, I don’t know that causing a panic in Riverside was the most effective way to go. But, you are free to say what you wish and post what you wish so more power to you. Thanks for posting my comments!

    • anonymous

      nlp,

      first of all there is no misinformation that was a real map and they will be handing out updated maps on Thursday night. It is true that no one wants to be bussed and no one should be bussed as it is illegal to bus based on race alone.

      I do have a few questions for you:

      Where were the new leb parents when MISA was up for discussion? Did your neighborhood rally behind a new New Leb Elementary School? Why didn’t the new leb parents rally? Why did your RTM members (district 4) vote for MISA? That seems like quite a disservice to the parents of new leb and hardly representative of the needs of your neighborhood. Where is the parent outrage?

      The only issue here is facilities utilization and instead we have decided to build an auditorium for 400 music students, keep up the good work Greenwich!

      I suspect if you took a town vote on whether or not to move forward with MISA you would see that MISA would be stopped.

      You don’t have to be bussed if you don’t want to. Understand your rights and fight for them. Tell the BOE to shut down MISA and to build you a new school. It’s absolutely ridiculous that we are building a luxury music palace when our kids are having classes in the hallways and on music stages!

      rally the parents and get it done, shut down MISA and build a new school for New Leb!

      • uwgb

        If MISA is canceled, it won’t affect the redistricting discussion, which is on the table largely because of state mandate regarding so called race balancing. If overcrowding of a few schools was the only issue, other less draconian solutions would be discussed by the BOE. I have friends whose kids attended New Lebanon School and New Leb parent is correct about the school community being tight knit and pretty happy with their school, save for its overcrowding. If busing and redistricting were taken out of the equation, there might well be funds available for an addition to the school, which has always been a very small school facility. Investing in improving and/or expanding school buildings is generally not foolhardy, as the larger town community can make use of unused building spaces in times of lower enrollments, and these spaces can be repurposed back to classrooms when enrollments rise. I’ve lived through several cycles of up and down enrollment in town. Thank goodness Parkway School was available to Cos Cob after their fire and then to backcountry students when Glenville and North Street schools became overcrowded. Yes, this was technically redistricting, but it was redistricting back to the original boundaries when Parkway was newly built. Older people will remember that there was an outcry when Parkway was shut down during an enrollment ebb, and a number of families left the public school system at that time. Many feel that the school should have been kept open all along,albeit with lower enrollment, and the expense of bringing it back online would have been avoided. Unused space during that time could have been used by community organizations. School buildings can and should be flexible community spaces.

      • New Leb Parent

        Not saying it wasn’t a “real” map. It was from 2007. It never came to pass. It’s not going to come to pass in that form. Yes, the board published it in a recent packet of information. But they put it in some context and did not publish it as a solution to the current problem. Re: our presence in the MISA battle, we have continually received promises from our many boards and superintendents that weren’t met. We were basically told that MISA wouldn’t undermine our needs. Some people supported MISA when it seemed that it wouldn’t negatively effect our getting capital projects completed. Things didn’t work out in our favor. We have a small voting population and the actual number of families with school-aged kids is pretty small compared to the rest of the town. And, frankly, we have a largely disenfranchised population. Those who do put up a fight have found themselves receiving empty promises too many times to keep up the fight. We also have more renters who don’t have the concerns about property values and taxes that others in town might. The overcrowding has been an issue for many years and it has been brought up countless times to BET members, BoE members, etc. It’s frustrating but here we are so lets move forward. We have a great park property, a small village with a lot of potential given its location, the Byram river, etc. but the stigma on this neighborhood, the town’s continued neglect, and our general fatigue have made it harder to get our community members to keep up the fight.

        • Spare me

          Sorry, but you’ve got to be kidding me with the “town’s neglect” comment. Western half of town got 2 new schools, a brand new civic center and possibly now a swimming pool coming which is used 3 months a year and is in a flood zone. Eastern half still waiting for a plan for our civic center, used 365 days a year 16 hours a day. Still waiting for Binney pond to be dredged. Still getting killed by outdated drainage systems in old Greenwich and no town sewer for much of riverside. Still paying a ton of property tax. So please spare us the neglect pity party.

  14. anonymous

    the state mandate is illegal

    we should just fix the overcrowding with a new school because afterall investing in our schools as long as it includes everyone (MISA does not and is foolhardy and as far as I know MISA will not be used to generate revenue from outside venues) is not foolhardy

  15. Anonymous

    i just want to know where the taco truck will be repositioned. is that too much to ask?

  16. Grr Mom

    I agree that the overcrowding at New Leb needs to be fixed as soon as possible but we have the capacity in the district to seat our current and projected enrollment so building a new school for more space isn’t the solution. The second we added on, the BET would be after the BOE to close Parkway or another school. They’d love to see only 10 elementary schools.
    Many NLS parents supported MISA because their kids will attend GHS and use the facility and classrooms created. They looked at the big picture. Even if MISA hadn’t been approved, there is no way the BET would have funded an addition to NLS based on the town wide capacity numbers. I’d love to see an addition of a few more rooms to give them PROPER space for programs and some breathing room but unfortunately, I doubt the BET and town would fund that, MISA or no MISA.
    Also, adding on the NLS does not solve overcrowding at Glenville, Cos Cob and North Mianus or under-utilization at OG or Parkway. Funny thing about NMS is that they have been vocal about wanting smaller class sizes but their school doesn’t have room if they were to get more teachers, unless they take it away from something else.
    We need a centrally located magnet school with “hub bussing” from each elementary school or gathering space. Ensure that a equal percentage of kids from each school/grade are admitted.

    • hmmm

      I see you have been fooled also. MISA is at most going benefit 15 percent of the students at ghs. It’s a waste of money.

  17. Anonymous

    anonymous 1:22 pm….New Leb PTA President (Bocchino I think is his name) was the poster child ADVOCATING for MISA. I tell you what….the PTA is so accustomed to bullying their way through the Town budget process—there is nothing they don’t get by threatening the weak knee’d BET, BOE.

    New Lebanon never cracks a sweat that they won’t get what they want…..new $400,000 addition. No problem. Plus MISA. Plus iPad for all students. Plus high Union comps—for ife. Name it—its there. It just takes a little grandstanding, public crying, and the not-so-subtle threats from parents about your next election….. and BAM….you too can get a $45 million music space.

    Until this Town moves away from hand picked political appointees to the BOE and BET…..there is no chance that we have true BET members that are “fiscal stewards” and BOE members that actually do thinkgs for the kids.

    • hmmm

      Where do we start because it has to start somewhere

    • hmmm

      We need more responsible people to run for the rtm seats that is more representative of our general elections

      More people need to get involved

  18. Anonymous

    New Leb parent….I believe your anger is misdirected….it was the Superintendent that made this an emotional issue, not CF. The Superintendent made the CHOICE to combine the “enrollment overcrowding” issue with the racial balancing issue….when they are separate and distinct issues. And, ANYTHING (such as inflammatory as a map–even if dated from 2007) that had to do with the Sterenberg years should NEVER ever have been included after all the angst and outcry that came from her grandiose redistribution plans.

  19. Anonymous

    I am eager to see how many show up tomorrow….and if it is still new faces and voices.

  20. Anonymous

    NLP made some good points. Let’s not get diverted by squabbling over who has supported MISA and who hasn’t and concentrate on pushing for what it seems the whole town wants: a high quality neighbourhood based education provided efficiently with the resources the Town of Greenwich already has. It is disappointing that the Board of Education is confusing academic attainment measured by performance on state tests with the quality of teaching and learning in our schools.

  21. anonymous

    I didn’t realize having a conversation about the absurdity of spending 45 million dollars and counting was squabbling when there are REAL infrastructure issues at hand in Greenwich. How about we put MISA to a vote in november and then when it fails we spend that money of OG Civic Center, New Elementary Schools, cleaning up the middle schools which benefits everyone not just the 10%!