Board of Selectmen Meeting February 11, 2013 Public Audience

Public Policy Issues

Board of Selectmen January 28, 2013 – February 11, 2013

Before Superintendent Diane Ullman retired I asked pursuant
to The Freedom of Information Act the end of year teacher assessments called
the Annual Report. All the teachers from the Simsbury schools were requested to
answer a computerized program with five issues. The teachers were requested to
input their Name, Position and School/Department.   I reviewed the teacher’s responses to two
questions. The first question was,” Suggestions for improving the
school/department, school system. The second was Problems/concerns you would
like us to know about.”  Since most of
our tax dollars are allocated to the Board of Education and quality education
is foremost to most residents, I felt that this should be reported to the
public. I was told that there wasn’t an Executive Summary so this is raw data from
the school teachers, in their words. I was told that I am the only person
requesting these documents. I am presenting approximately 86 high school
teacher’s comments tonight.  These
documents are compiled from all the schools.  
Since we now have a new Superintendent I think this would be a valuable
tool to improve the school system and improve the quality of education in

 These are some of the
 allegations from the teachers: Inconsistent
attendance policy, ventilation in school,  poor air quality, AP classes – some students
lack skills, more professional development, lack of communication between teachers
and administration, distractions with noise in hallways, academic achievement
lowered in collapsed classes, administration not responsive to complaints, teachers
stressed and poor morale, no standard procedure for makeup for work study and
illness, administration not responsive to complaints, time wasted on using
technology, lack of  consistency with
midyear exams, review testing procedures,  too many initiatives without support staff,
parents pressuring teachers with unreasonable expectations on grades, teachers
chastised for giving “D’s” and “F’s”, 70 concussions and other medical issues
increasing homebound tutoring, teachers teaching outside of area of expertise,
administration faulted for inconsistent discipline dealing with risky behavior,
more strict discipline, texting allowed in halls a distraction and allowing
skateboarding, rollerblading and scooters throughout the last day of school for
Seniors creating a dangerous and disruptive environment throughout the school. I
will make these reports available to any interested parties.

According to 2012Town Comprehensive Annual financial  Report most of the large companies in Simsbury
have down-sized except the Town of Simsbury and the Board of Education from
2003 – 2012.  According to rank, The
Hartford Life Insurance went from 2,589 – 1,911, Simsbury Board of Education
596 – 654, McLean Home 565-450, Chubb-Executive Risk, Inc. 553-406,
Ensign-Bickford 300-198, Town of Simsbury 144-178, Mitchell of Simsbury
130-118, These numbers should affect our Grand List. With decreasing enrollment
in the schools, why the increase in employees? How can the Town of Simsbury
increase employment placing stress on the legacy costs?

I would hope that this year the Town and Board of Education
would present a zero increase in the budget. The Grand List has been reduced.
Just raising the Mill Rate to increase the taxes on much reduced home values is
voodoo economics. The higher the Mill Rate the higher the Motor Vehicle taxes.
We the people are stretched to the limit. We can no longer have increased taxes
presented to the taxpayers. The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2012,
page 3,”$4,156,981 unassigned fund balance is available for spending at the
Town’s discretion.” This slush fund could be used to settle union contracts and
off-set tax increases. This is the taxpayers money and should be returned to the
taxpayers. It is our elected officials that have to cut the budget and not pass
it on to the public. Simsbury has the highest taxes in the Valley. When all the
top employers in town are downsizing, why does the Board of Education and the
Town increase employment?  What will
happen when the highest taxpayer, The Hartford Life Insurance Company leaves an
empty building  and decides to demolish

At the last meeting I discussed the inequality in fees for
the “A” Paddle team. I paid $135 as a member of the “A” Paddle Team for the
reserved courts and expect them to be maintained. On Tuesday, January 22, the
team came to practice to find the courts full of snow. The courts were not
ready for play. The team had to wait for 2 employees to sweep the courts. Then
the heaters were on for at least ½ hour after the courts were free of snow.
More tax dollars wasted. I would like to show you the sign posted on the paddle
courts with many omissions. How can you check in at the front desk if they are
closed some of the hours that are posted? 
Why the erasures? Why $20 for 1 hour when all other times are 11/2
hours?  Is this professional management?

The town Financial Report for 2012 reflects a deficiency of
$36,194 in the Simsbury Farms Fund. Why we are the people told that this fund
is self-sufficient? How has the town made this fund whole? Why Memorial Field
pool has continued to lose money?

I am very concerned that the sale of Pharos Farm to the Land
Trust will not be in the best interest of the town. As we have seen over the
years, restrictive properties are difficult to manage.  The economy can change and the focus on Farm
Land can also change. How will the abutters be affected when the land can
longer be farmed and the land remains vacant and blighted? Restrictions such as
the Eno Farms Poor Farm have continually been questioned as is the Eno Farms
Affordable Housing, Many of these initiatives are the flavor of the month,
linger for awhile and then fade into the wind. This swap is too restrictive and
should not go forward. Does building a barn on the land meet the requirements
of the Grant? Can this barn be converted into living quarters? The town has had
promises made and promises not kept. I would urge this board to vote no on this

According to Town records, Mr. Joseph Patrina has not paid
his taxes to the town. Why has the town approved permits for Patrina to have a
concert at his barn in a residential area? Has Patrina taken the town hostage
by lawyering up?

I am concerned that this administration has not been able to
finalize the Police, Dispatch and Highway Department contract. It appears that
the Unions are not that far apart. Going to arbitration is costly and should be
averted. I am sure that reasonable people can sit down and work through the

Many of the Simsbury residents have continually complained
about the poor or non-existent cell phone reception in their homes. I had the
same issue with no reception until I purchased an AT&T Micro Cell. As a
result of having my personal antenna I have excellent reception. I would
suggest that others with the same problem look into purchasing a Micro Cell.




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