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Patch Poll: Why Do You Think Voters Rejected the Region 14 Budget?

Board of Education Chair Chuck Cosgriff gave three reasons why voters did not support the Region 14 budget.

 

After the polls closed at the Wednesday, June 6, , Board of Education Chairman Chuck Cosgriff theorized there are three reasons why people voted against the budget.

  1. The vo-ag program
  2. The director of curriculum and instruction
  3. The total percentage increase over last year's budget

See the Patch Poll at the bottom of the article and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Districtwide, the budget failed, 1,210 to 843.

Agriscience Program

"We are examining the vo-ag program," Cosgriff told Patch after the referendum results were announced.

At the Tuesday, June 5, special Board of Education meeting, Cosgriff asked Superintendent Jody Goeler to form a committee to review tuition funding for agriscience and technology centers and make recommendations on actions the board may want to consider concerning inadequate funding for the agriscience program.

He asked that the committee's formation be reported to the board by July.

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Director of Curriculum and Instruction

The director position would cost $153,658. explaining why he felt the position was necessary and most residents who responded in the comments section of that letter felt the position was unnecessary.

The Overall Increase

The rejected budget amount, at $30,817,765, reflected a $571,736 increase, or 1.89 percent, over the 2011-12 budget of $30,246,029.

Cosgriff was not surprised with the referendum outcome.

"Am I surprised? No," he said. "Disappointed? Yes. If the vote passed, I'd take it to mean that the parents and taxpayers are comfortable with what's taking place."

Cosgriff said taxpayers want a lower budget without affecting programs and maintaining what's best for students.

He said the board will likely want to meet as soon as possible and said a meeting may be scheduled for next week.

Mike June 07, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Here we go again! The agri-science program (vo-ag, the old terminology) is on area that people just don't understand. I HOPE you understand what your talking about before you open your mouth about this fantastic program. Its a hands on, program that truly can prepare students for real world careers. They aren't just blue collar jobs..plenty of influential white collar people have gone through and seen the benefits of being well rounded in learning more than what meets the eye. I hope it isn't a target of reason for the budget not passing. When we spend our hard earned tax dollars.. we need to make sure we get the most bang for the buck. As far as the salaries and positions ... I think this could definitely be a sticking point.
Bob June 07, 2012 at 11:49 AM
The vo-ag program is invaluable asset to the school. It is actually a renowned program in the state. However, if out of district students need to pay more, I see no reason why they shouldn’t. But we need to keep supporting this unique and effective program. It is one of the few things that sets apart region 14 from the surrounding towns. I would have voted for a higher budget if the curriculum job had not been part of the budget. I would rather have seen the 153k go towards vo-ag, text books, or structural improvements rather than the curriculum person who would really just be a assistant superintendent.
Mike Is Wrong June 07, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Poor Mike just doesn't get it. We are WASTING over One Million Dollars per year on this program. The One Million Dollars per year is our money spent on kids from other towns - that does not count our money poured into this obsolete and unnecessary program. This violates our regional agreement, and it violates the taxpayers of our District. We have no obligation nor authority to spend our money on kids from Seymour or Newtown - let them pay their fair share or kick them out of the program. Vo-Ag is now Vo-Drag on us the taxpayers. Vote No until the program is right-sized. By the way, the program really is nothing but a weak excuse for giving a rather meaningless diploma to students who can't or won't earn one.
MIKE IS RIGHT June 07, 2012 at 01:18 PM
NO MIKE IS RIGHT!!!!!! THE VO-AG IS A GREAT PROGRAM! YOUR NOTHING BUT A WEAK EXCUSE!!!!! REALLY, GET A LIFE!!!!!
D. Marcus June 07, 2012 at 02:16 PM
"The program is really nothing but a weak excuse for giving a meaningless diploma to students who can't or won't earn one."??? Get a clue... Having a child go through this outstanding program let me share a little factual information regarding your misguided statement .... Not only did my child have to take ALL the coursework that Nonnewaug High School requires, but all the AG-Science requirements as well... no extra time for study halls and less of a class load in any of the four years of high school. My child graduates with above and beyond credits needed, or what is required of senior high school students. In addition to attending all classes and having acceptable grades to be ALLOWED to stay in the program, my child has a WORK requirement to stay in this program and puts in over 9 hours a week for the required outside of school SAE. One has to be pretty motivated to stick with this NATIONALLY recognized program that enhances the prestige of our Nonnewaug High School. This program opens many doors to COLLEGES that are looking for dedicated and motivated students who go above and beyond to EARN a diploma. Oh, and by the way, I agree... Mike IS right!
Sean M June 07, 2012 at 02:29 PM
The problem is the Board of Education is filled with former teachers and people married to teachers. In the real world, businesses have to earn money. In the BOE world, they can just demand it. I do not think the board understands how money is generated. I am sick and tired of my taxes going up every year to support people with guaranteed jobs and mandatory raises, including the taxpayers eating their massive benefit increases. The Wisconsin governor's race showed the real war in this country is government employees versus the people. Enrollment has dropped. Spending must drop. Start cutting unneeded administrators and stop paying people $100K a year for a position they would never get in the private sector. It is time that government starts living like the private sector that funds them.
Diana June 07, 2012 at 03:22 PM
The Vo-Ag program is a wonderful program that absoutely shoud NOT be cut. The kids who are enrolled in that program put in much more work than those in the "regular" program - and have to be extremely motivated - they must work all summer in an approved related position as well as complete a number of credits that are above the required graduating credits required. I would rather see administrators take a pay cut, and I think the majority of the towns people feel the same. Schools in general have become too top heavy. Unfortunately I think some of that has to do with all the state and federal regulations that keep getting added each year. I would rather see that $150k go into fixing the building.
Lisa June 07, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Yes the Vo -Ag is a great program but we need to get more money per student. I also believe they need to come in to some if the classes and monitor what's going on . We have many great teachers but we have some who are not doing a good job .
tom arras June 07, 2012 at 03:56 PM
"All of the above" is my answer to the poll. Vo-Ag is an excellent program, yet the funding of the program is pathetic. It is also pathetic that our Board & administrators allow that to exist. Compare Vo-Ag funding wwth that of Charter, Magnet, & Vo-tech schools and you'll agree. This is a bad time to add a director of curriculum. The position has been vacant for years, and the last director wasn't really effective, so please don't bring it back to the voters until the next robust economic period to see if they like it then. The total increase is a problem. A look back in history will show you that we had 141.8 teachers for 2,311 students in the '06 - '07 budget, and yesterday's budget was for 137.12 teachers for 1,944 students. They've only dropped 4.68 positions for a drop of 367 students! We'd only need 119 teachers to have the same ratio we had in the '06 - '07 budget, and they should pare it down to that. I agree that a lot of this IS about employing teachers. I'm confident that the Board can get to a zero mil rate increase budget( it might take 'til September ), but do they understand that?
Diana June 07, 2012 at 04:08 PM
The Vo-Ag program is an important and unique program that needs to stay. It's not just about blue collar farming and is not a waste of $$. Out of district students pay tuition to the school system, so Reg. 14 taxpayers are not paying for the full cost of the program. I agree that top administration are making too much $$. But its not a problem unique to Reg. 14 - it's a problem with all the school systems. What I see is the "keeping up with the Jonses" syndrome. Well, if that school system is paying XX - then we need to pay more to get someone good. Then the people themselves say, well XX school system is offering XX - so what are you going to offer ? I realize we all go for the job that pays the most, but it's gotten out of hand for top executives.
Diana June 07, 2012 at 04:17 PM
I agree with everything you've said - they should look at the funding for the vo-ag program and raise the tuition if necessary, and not add any positions right now. Most people have not seen a raise in pay for several years, and if they have, it's been small. We just can't afford the increase. I also think Bethlehem needs to pay their fair share. How is it that they were going to get a tax decrease and woodbury was going to see the increase. All the kids share the schools equally - the tax rate should be equal for ALL in BOTH towns.
tom arras June 07, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Unfortunately it costs Region 14 taxpayers their own tax dollars to educate the Vo-Ag students from outside the Region. The Region only receives $7,992 in tuition from the sending towns for each such student, and the State gives us another $1,335 grant and another estimated $309 grant. These figures add up to $9,636 per student, and fall way short of the Region's cost of $15,834( these grant figures are a little confusing in that grants are for every student in the program).
Diana June 07, 2012 at 04:33 PM
The reason why the BOE should look at increasing the tuition - but I would still rather support that program than pay for out of control administrator salaries.
tom arras June 07, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Because Woodbury has more of the Regions' students( 75.55% ), Woodbury pays 75.55% of the more than $1MILLION cost of educating out of Region students. Therefore Woodbury pays $768,000 and Bethlehem pays the remainder. The Vo-Ag school only accepted full tuition-paid students originally until someone decided to built a monument to himself and grow both the Vo-Ag school and the costs to Bethlehem and Woodbury. This is so unfair, that it alone is reason to vote down any budget containing it.
wes June 07, 2012 at 05:54 PM
My thoughts: About vo-ag. I agree with Bob. This is an invaluable program. I myself went to a vo-ag program(lyman hall) and left with a lifetimes worth of specialized knowledge. Woodbury is lucky to have this program and i fully support it in everyway. I now have a daughter involved in the program. What i do not agree with is if in fact we are supporting other towns kids, well, that is just not fair and it should end. I dont think we need a committee to figure this out either. If the school system does not have this information readily available, then we all should be really scared how our schools are being run. The towns that send their students here should have to prove they are paying exactly what it costs to educate them and get them here. No questions asked. That should be a no brainer and easy to figure out. I support our teachers, I have and have had many family members as teachers and it is a thankless job. Ask yourself if you would do that job, i know i wouldnt, they need our support. What i do not support is unnecessary administration, duplicate positions, assistants for assistants, food service that is way to complicated, and run away spending that isnt directly related to core education for our kids. The sign in front of town hall the other morning said it best. "support education, not stupidity" What we have going on should not be hard to fix. People have to be honest and make the agenda our kids, not the "systems" Wes
Mike June 08, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Let's all make sure we have our facts straight here. Isn't there any state funding as well as the sending towns? I have seen some arrogant,snotty comments regarding the agri-science program and it's students .. People get out if your ct shell ... ag makes the world go round .. and there's much more than " sows n plows".. and I hear any of that crap i'll call u out on it. Don't dare down play the importance of agriculture and the morales of an American Farmer / agriculturalist. As far as paying for out of district students...? Id be very surprised if there isn't a mechanism in place to recoup those costs. Let's look into it. Though.. I still belive the biggest reason it hasn't passed is. No one has extra money to pay for the extra items. Even the people whom think they are " better " than a farmer.
Mike Is Wrong June 08, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Mike and all - The State sets the tuition rate for Vo-Drag students. There is no other mechanism to raise their fee. Thus, we get rising costs, and they get the deal of a lifetime. They also send their special ed kids to vo-ag, dumping even more expense on us. Put your flag-waving pro-farmer speech away - no one is buying that. Vo-Drag costs us over $1 million dollars per year to educate out of district kids. That is fact - even Mike could ask the school board and they will tell you again it is true. We are stuck with the bill and no way to cover it. It is unfair, illegal, and unconstitutional. We must no longer accept out of district kids and we can still have that great program and also save over 41 million dollars per year. End of story.
Mike June 08, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Special Ed kids!!!??? U r delirious! They are chosen by the AGRI-SCIENCE PROGRAM. ( shows your lack of intelligence in your not funny phrasing, were u a mean child?) Grow up! Get your facts straight! Get out if Woodbury and or Bethlehem! Give me a break!
Lisa June 08, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Mike we are getting less per student for Vo-Ag even the board is saying that. I am not in favor of getting rid if the program , I think we need to get more from the State. How that can be done , I wish I had the answer to that. I pay almost 11 thousand in taxes and can't afford any more . I think we have waste in the system. I also see many teachers in our Region who don't even send there kids here they go to private schools.
Voice of Reason June 08, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Mike, is it? You are coming derailed with your last post here. No need for name-calling and the like. Special Ed may be going a little far but it is a fact that plenty of troubled students come into the Region due to the Ag program. NHS offers a better environment for these kids, if you haven't seen it you aren't paying attention. That being said, it is quite unfair to Region 14 taxpayers to foot the bill for these kids. I don't blame the parents, it just isn't fair. There is no "mechanism" to recoup the cost. The Ag program was initially set up with a set number of enrollments, it is now a factor of several times that number. It also has become like most other programs that are funded by the taxpayer, the taxpayer that has no voice. The entire program is "me, me, me, give me more. I want to look better than the next". Even if there were a "mechanism" it would be taxpayer funded and simply spreading the burden over more folks. None of us would be here discussing this if it weren't for the farmer, however, we should not be subject to more and more unchecked spending and taxation.
Voice of Reason June 08, 2012 at 02:04 AM
To expand a little. Selectman George Hale also has sent his children to private schools, rather than Region 14.
joe_m June 08, 2012 at 12:17 PM
The issue with Vo-Ag is the budget presented by the Region does not have sufficient information on the real cost per student at the high school and the real cost per student for the Vo-Ag program. Please, do not assume that the $15,000 per student cost applies to all students. Let the Region present a factual budget showing the cost per student by building and for regular ed and special ed. Then maybe we can make an informed decision.
Don Sherman June 09, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Do you remember Principal Brockway? He lived in Southbury and would not move to Woodbury because the schools were so bad. And don't forget those immortal words of school board member Linda Bulvanoski: "I think Region 14 has always settled for mediocrity and part of the problem is the residents want us to come to them with a budget so low, it's ridiculous." Spoken like a true union leach. (Oh, Linda! Look here. Another Region 14 graduate too stupid to know the difference in the homonyms "leach" and "leech".)

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