• MONTANARO: Common Sense

    September 22, 2023

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    The numbers do not lie. $330 million has been allocated to the BoE for GPS operations and capital this year. Over $1 BILLION has been spent on school maintenance and capital projects over the last fifteen years. I agree it is inexcusable that any maintenance issues exist in our schools. The BoE and GPS administration need to do some hefty housekeeping to ensure our money is put to better use. That said, the trajectory we are on with BoE spending is untenable, even for Greenwich.

    We should not be guided by the misnomer that “We’re Greenwich, we can afford it.” That is so far from the truth for the vast majority of our residents. Most of us cannot afford our living expenses to soar any higher than they already are. Elected officials and board members should not be short-sighted or out of touch. Are those who spoke on behalf of more spending willing to sign up for doubling their property taxes? Will their neighbors be happy with their property taxes doubling?

    Bottom line is this entire project has become unnecessarily political.

    Ask yourselves, do you want to spend $200 million tax dollars on school capital projects this year or do you want our boards and committees to get it right before they go handing that kind of money over to big construction groups? Common sense and teamwork should supersede scoring political points just because it is a municipal election year. In these tough times, the hard-working taxpayers deserve it. Let Greenwich get CMS and OG School right!

    There is now a new, highly competent member on the CMS building committee. Jan Kniffen should help to move the project forward in an expeditious and responsible manner. So why is the BoE going against legal standards and stirring up the public to drop a $120 million building on the taxpayer’s lap? Not following protocols will inevitably cost the town more in the long run.

    It is not a coincidence that both CMS and OGS are churning out huge, larger than expected price tags in an election year. Self-proclaimed “public figure” James Waters (son of Greenwich League of Women Voters President, Sandy Waters) is the OGS Building Committee chair. I sincerely thank him for his service to our country while he was in the Navy, but his claim that the project is shovel ready, is inaccurate. It has a bit to go before taxpayers should fork over $40 million. Tony Turner, the former Democrat Town Committee Chairman, is the head of the CMS building committee and has overseen stumble after stumble with that project.

    Add all of this up, and the facts become clear that these Committee Chairs, along with Dr. Jones and some on the BoE, are misleading the PTAs who, in turn, are passing jaded info on to GPS parents. Some parents have become mobilized and organized just as Tony Turner asked the CMS PTA board to do when he privately met with them back in April. He told the CMS PTA that they are going to need a lot more money and to alert parents of this so they get fired up. He did this without notifying the full CMS Building Committee who may have had a different opinion to present on the project cost, size, and scope.

    I do not support the propaganda going around that “our schools are crumbling.” Very sad that certain left-wing groups like “Indivisible Greenwich” are using this narrative to persuade and facilitate emotional reactions from parents. David Weisbrod (Democrat BET member) and several individuals who are shouting that we should give GPS every dime they ask for, so happen to be affiliated with Indivisible.

    Joe Montanaro
    Greenwich Republicans

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