• TOMMASINO: Hey Greenwich BET, It's Time To Start Asking Hard Questions About The BOE Budget

    January 30, 2024

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    Submitted by Liz Tommasino

    The Greenwich Board of Estimation and Taxation (BET) needs to look beyond political agendas, and put them aside as it goes through the budget proposal process for Greenwich Public Schools (GPS).  

    The BET must discern all of the facts, ask the important questions, and do right by the taxpayers and residents who elected them, as well as do right by the children who attend our public school system.

    I fear that Greenwich may be getting deceived into a higher school budget than is necessary, especially after reading this article.  

    The BET needs to step up and start asking hard, pointed questions to GPS Superintendent Dr. Jones and Facilities Director, Dan Watson.

    Let's start with "WHY?"

    Please ask Dr. Jones WHY there have been an additional 33 educators hired in GPS within the past several years YET class sizes are still the same and SAT scores haven’t budged.  

    Please ask Dan Watson WHY a geothermal HVAC system was installed at Hamilton Avenue School without providing any training or education to the facilities staff on how to use or maintain the system.

    Now let's ask "WHO?"

    Please ask Watson WHO was responsible for facilitating said training and education.  

    Then ask "HOW?"

    HOW is it possible that the Central Middle School building committee thought it was a good idea to propose geothermal HVAC in the new school building when they know full well about the Hamilton Avenue debacle? 

    And "WHERE?"

    Like WHERE is the facilities maintenance schedule?

    WHERE is taxpayers’ money going?

    It seems to me that much of our money goes to “fix” facility problems which have been ignored for years:

    • Parkway School — lead found in well water at least twice in the past decade
    • Cos Cob School — flood
    • North Mianus School — roof collapse 
    • Old Greenwich School — flooding and sewage 
    • CMS — structural deficiency 
    • WMS — fields closed for almost a decade
    • GHS Cardinal Stadium — structural deficiency
    • GHS Auditorium – two floods
    • Havemeyer BOE Building – 3 floors flood

    Another bit of money goes toward higher insurance premiums and deductibles.

    After you ask all of those hard questions, let's circle back to WHO again.  

    Please tell Greenwich WHO is responsible for ensuring that all GPS facilities are maintained to the highest standards of safety and security?  WHO IS ULTIMATELY ACCOUNTABLE?  

    Now let's consider a hypothetical scenario.  Imagine if, instead of a school district, these facility problems happened in buildings owned by a publicly traded corporation.  The CEO (in this case, Dr. Jones) and the COO (Dan Watson) have a responsibility to their Board; that would be the BOE.  They have a responsibility to their Treasurer; that would be the BET. They also have a responsibility to their Shareholders; those would be the taxpayers of Greenwich.

    A constant and unexplained facility crisis wouldn’t exist in the above scenario.  “WHY?”  Because the Board, the Treasurer, and the Shareholders would demand ACCOUNTABILITY, that's why.

    To the "Shareholders" reading this, you now have a clear call to action.

    As Shareholders, this is your money being spent, your children’s education, and your property value, so step up. Say something. Do something.

    Let the Greenwich BET and the BOE know that you support accountability and fiscal responsibility from Superintendent Jones and Dan Watson, as well as from Building Committee chairs Tony Turner (CMS), and James Waters (OGS.)

    Demand transparency. DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY.

    Email the Greenwich BET: [email protected]
    Email the Greenwich BOE: [email protected]

    Liz Tommasino has been a Greenwich resident since 2011, and is a newly elected member in the town's legislative body, the RTM, for District 8.

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