Letter: BOE’s Experience Proven by Arbitors

Letter To The Editor:

To the Citizens of Wolcott:

There is a reason that towns have Boards of Education to manage their school systems, and it is not left up to Town Councils or Town Meetings. The reason for this is quite simple – education is very different than private business and the significant differences requires a group of elected people who are identified by their community as having an understanding of education manage that entity.

In November, at the very first meeting of the newly elected Town Council in Wolcott, the new members acted quickly to reject the new Administrator’s contract which had been negotiated by the Board of Education over many months with the Administrator’s union. The proposal was for a three year contract with raises of 0%, 3.5%, and 3.5% per year. The Board of Education, then under the Chairmanship of Jim Pape, negotiated this contract after a review of recent contract negotiations in many CT towns similar to Wolcott. It was a fair contract – both to the administrators and for the town. The fact that 0% was agreeable to both sides in year 1, was significantly important as incremental raises would not be compounded until year two, which helps keep the current budget down through the life of the this contract and future contracts. Lower education budgets help keep taxes down for all citizens.

Acting hastily, the new Town Council voted five to one to not approve the new contract. The only Council member voting to approve the contract was Dave Valetta. I still do not understand the reasons that the contract was not approved by our Town Council. How many of them actually read the contract? How many of them studied other town’s recent negotiations? Local media reported Council members as saying the raises were too high. Was it a decision based on data, or was it a decision based on a newly elected body wanting to show power and control over the Board of Education?

So, let’s cut to the chase. The administrators refused to re-negotiate so the town had to go to arbitration to indicate why the 0%, 3.5%, 3.5% was not appropriate. The arbitrator ruled, after doing the research that the BOE had done and the Town Council did not do, that the Wolcott administrators would get raises of 0%, 3.5%, and 3.5% – that’s right the exact same raises the BOE had originally negotiated months earlier!! The cost to the town of that arbitration?? $22,000…..that’s right TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. Guess who pays that bill? I and my fellow citizens of Wolcott do.

And as a side note, the man who had to “pitch the case” in arbitration that the raises were too high was then Acting Superintendent Joe Macary. If you play this out…..the BOE approved raises the administrators are pleased with……the Town Council acted against the recommendation of the Board of Education and rejected the contract……Joe Macary has to play the bad guy in arbitration…… And then we wonder why three retired teachers write a letter to the board complaining about morale and blaming it on Joe Macary? Our Tyrrell School math students can figure this equation out faster than some of our elected leaders.

My message is simple – to my fellow citizens, stay involved, read minutes of the meetings, know who is making good decisions and who is making bad decisions. When our town elections come up in 2011, base your decisions on who to vote for on the factual record. My message to our Town Council – stick to administering to the business of our town, learn from your mistake and do not try to do the work of our Board of Education – let the people that our citizens elected to run our schools do just that.

Gregory J. Dandio
Wolcott Republican Town Committee Member


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