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Boughton + city education problems = OUT OF TOUCH

Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Time: 11:24 AM

As I stated several times over the last couple of years, the NUMBER ONE issue on the minds of residents in Danbury is NOT immigration or the economy but rather EDUCATION. The Danbury Patch fielded questions from residents for the mayoral candidates that reinforce my comment...as well as the fact that when it comes to the problems in our education system, Mayor Boughton is completely out of touch with the reality of the situation while Lynn Taborsak hit the nail on the head.

This is REQUIRED READING.
Lynn/Mark: Do you plan on addressing the issue of overcrowding in the Danbury Schools by re-evaluating the school budget and increasing it to enable the superintendent to build and renovate buildings thereby reducing the number of kids in each school?

Lynn Taborsak's response:

The Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Education have no authority to borrow money to build or renovate schools. That is the responsibility of the municipal government. The school district provides the programs, staff, equipment, books, and computers to educate our children. The city provide the buildings. They have to work together to resolve the issue of school overcrowding. Mayor Boughton has painted the school district as public enemy #1 because of the cost of school improvements to taxpayers. The truth is that many improvements like new boilers, new windows and solar panels save the district money down the road with lower energy costs. The city receives both Clean Energy grants and state reimbursement for those costs. We can’t have overcrowded, run-down substandard school facilities and expect children to succeed.

Mark Boughton's response:

We have a long range planning committee- the 2020 Task Force is finishing it's report. Once the report has been issued and the Task Force has formed a consensus on its recommendations, we will go to the voters looking for a positive vote. Building and renovating schools is an extremely costly process and will have a significant impact on your tax bill, therefore we must be sensitive to the needs of our taxpayers. Last year almost 200 families lost their home due to foreclosure, these are some of the most difficult economic times since the Great Depression. The final recommendations of the 2020 Task Force must be the most cost efficient possible if we are going to ask the voters to support it. Last fiscal year the Danbury Public Schools ran a significant surplus. That surplus was use to pay down expenses in the coming years. That should indicate the question is nor "does the BOE have enough money?" the question is "how does the BOE spend its money?" under state statute the Mayor or the City Council cannot tell the BOE how to spend its money.

2) Lynn/Mark: Do you feel that it is more important to spend money developing downtown Danbury or to spend that money on solving our school overcrowding problem?

Mark Boughton's response:

I believe that both our important. However, the priority must be balancing the numbers of students in our schools. Right now the BOE has rolled out a plan to address the short term needs, we are working on a long term solution.

Lynn Taborsak's response:

It’s more important to solve the problem of overcrowded schools than to spend taxpayer dollars developing the downtown. Here is why: We currently exceed the recommended class size for elementary school classes by 8. The middle school enrollment exceeds the State Department of Education guidelines by 200 to 300 students in both middle schools. The High School is bursting at the seams. You cannot provide high quality education in hallways, closets and storage rooms. You cannot expect “failing” schools to succeed in meeting the challenges they face with these substandard conditions. The City of Danbury is the landlord for the school district. If the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team[UNIT] was empowered to crack down on substandard schools, Mayor Boughton would be in court with a list of violations a mile long. He is a bad landlord and he is afraid to tell voters the truth about overcrowding. We need a third middle school and 30 more elementary classrooms to start. We need to get the maximum state assistance possible and present voters with a plan we can afford.

Lynn/Mark: Are you willing to stop the rapid rate of new home/condo construction in order to put an end to the influx of families moving to the Danbury area which, in my opinion, is responsible for the overcrowding that we are now seeing in our schools? Of all the questions I feel the last one is the most important because all of these new homes are what is causing people to move to Danbury in the first place.

Lynn Taborsak's response:

3) According to the demographer hired by the school district to examine population trends, it’s the sale of small starter homes in the 4th, 5th and 6th Wards that is driving the increase in the school population in Danbury. I’m sure that the proliferation of condominiums and luxury townhouses contributes to the school population too, but not to the same extent. The real problem with “over-development” is that it costs more to provide services [fire, police, schools, libraries, roads, water, sewer and parks] than the tax revenue generated by each unit. Danbury turned over the largest tract of industrial zoned land in all of Fairfield County for thousands of condominium units in one meeting of the Zoning Commission in 2004. That was a terrible loss for tax base and for our economic development portfolio. In one evening, we saddled our blue-collar base with the expense of creating an upscale enclave on the out skirts of town. Yet many Danbury seniors can no longer manage the upkeep of a traditional single family home and need a variety of housing choices including subsidized senior housing, age-restricted developments, moderate rental units and more modest town houses where upkeep is included in the common charges. This kind of mixed housing can be key to revitalizing our downtown area where the infrastructure for water, roads, sewers and transportation already exists. We need more of our population and workforce downtown. We don’t need more luxury condominiums on Kennedy Boulevard either. This isn’t just like Baltimore as the Mayor tried to claim in our debate. We don’t have a harbor, a Major League baseball team, a children’s museum, a zoo or an aquarium.

Mark Boughton's response:

3) New condo's and homes are not where the influx students are coming from. Our Planning Department has studied new condo developments and older condo developments, and have concluded that the amount of children generated by these developments is small.

The areas that generating new children for our schools are the older neighborhoods with Victorian homes that have been renovated into a 3 and 4 family home - many before we even had zoning regulations that now prohibit such building.

Think about it, if 40% of the children now enrolling in our schools are living at or below the poverty level, they are not living in a $300,000 condo.

Several years ago we amended our Zoning Ordinances to prohibit much of the building that you see today that occurred in the late 80's and 90's. Homes that were built "shotgun" style on small lots, must now face the street, the zone around Virginia Ave. was changed to prohibit the type of building that you see there - the old RMF-3 Zone. Finally, "shotgun" style condo's have also been prohibited.

Unfortunately, many of the 3 and 4 family homes are pre-existing and non-conforming to today's regulations, but, under the law, they are allowed to continue their current use.
You cannot change history, but we are going to continue to manage responsible development in the future to ensure that our quality of life is protected.

posted by ctblogger at 11:24 AM | Permalink|

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On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.

The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.

Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.

Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.

CLICK HERE TO READ/DOWNLOAD MAYOR BOUGHTON'S DEPOSITION

CLICK HERE TO READ/DOWNLOAD MIKE McLACHLAN (then MAYOR CHIEF OF STAFF) DEPOSITION

Danbury Area Coalition for the Rights of Immigrants v.
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
3:06-cv-01992-RNC ( D. Conn. )

(02.25.08) Court docket

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NEW HAVEN REGISTER: Immigrant's 2006 arrest was flawed Danbury mayor testifies

(10.05.07 (VIDEO) Boughton mislead the public about Danbury's involvement in raid

(09.18.07) Yale Law Students expose Danbury involvement in raid

(12.14.06) VIDEO: Interview with Yale Law Students at FOI presser

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City Clerk Jean Natale standing next to skinhead sparks outrage

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(09/29/06) Immigrant newspaper "El Canillita" gives best account of ICE day labor raid at Kennedy Park




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