Along with its charge of streamlining Newtown’s charter and making it more user-friendly for residents and taxpayers, the current Charter Revision Commission is deliberating a matter outside its charge that some members believe strays from editing and housekeeping and into decidedly political waters. During an April 21 meeting at Town Hall South, Chairman Jeff Capeci told The Newtown Bee that commissioners discussed and took a consensus vote on whether the constitutional document should mandate a political party makeup of 4-3 on the seven-member board of education, or whether the charter should maintain a 5-2 political majority, which is consistent with state statute.
The Boards of Education and Finance both recently began discussions about seating an ad-hoc committee that would pick up on work initiated in 2012, examining how the town and school district could consolidate certain services to achieve greater taxpayer savings and efficiencies. Finance Board Chairman John Kortze told The Newtown Bee that his panel approved a resolution to establish such a committee in cooperation with the Legislative Council, which would also involve the Board of Selectmen. “We need to figure out what can be done,” Mr Kortze said. “We hope this new committee can identify the scope and scale of what we’re looking at.” Mr Kortze said the panel would be able to utilize a 2012 report developed by Blum Shapiro, and would help “position all the leading town boards and commissions out in front of the topic.” First Selectman Pat Llodra told The Bee that after four years, she believes the Blum Shapiro study is still viable because it has already identified numerous areas where the town and district could consolidate services to affect greater cost savings and efficiencies.
Newtown’s Municipal Buildings Strategic Plan Advisory Committee met April 27 at the C.H. Booth Library so each panel member could hear from a consultant who will be reviewing and developing recommendations on three public facilities under priority focus by the group. The volunteers were introduced to Ken Best, representing Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc (DRA), a South Windsor firm. During that meeting, Mr Best told members that he had met with town Public Works Director Fred Hurley, and had already looked through the current Hook & Ladder headquarters, Town Hall South and the multipurpose building that currently houses Newtown Senior Center and The Children’s Adventure Center preschool. During those preliminary visits, Mr Best told the panel that he already noted a “crazy amount of things,” amounting to various building concerns and code compliance issues
The school district announced on Thursday, April 30, the honorees who have been chosen for the district’s 2014-15 Profiles in Professionalism award. This is the first year the award will honor local educators, school personnel, and parents. Nominations for the award were submitted to the district’s central office. The individuals will be honored during the Board of Education’s meeting on Tuesday, May 5, which is set to start at 6:30 pm at Reed Intermediate School’s library.
The Stratford Board of Education appointed Newtown’s Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Gejda for its new assistant superintendent during a meeting on Monday, April 27. Dr Gejda responded to the news on Wednesday, April 29, saying the decision, “was a very difficult one for me. Newtown is obviously a very special community… very supportive of its school district… and I’ve been extremely privileged to work with skilled individuals…” Dr Gejda said the educators and administrators she has worked with in Newtown have always had their primary focus on the education of Newtown’s students. Sharing her excitement for the new opportunity, which she said she applied for before going through the interview process, Dr Gejda said the new position will be “a journey.” Dr Gejda was hired to serve as Newtown’s assistant principal by the Board of Education in April 2007, and she began her duties that July.
The school district and town budget proposals both passed with overwhelming support on April 28, thanks to the 3,207 voters who turned out including 75 who opted to cast absentee ballots. The final vote counts are as follows: Town budget request: 2,379 Yes vs 814 No; and School budget request: 2,246 Yes vs 939 No. According to local registrars, the budget turnout Tuesday represented 18.8 percent of the 17,099 eligible voters in town. Those voters were empowered to accept or reject a town request of $40,142,567 which includes all capital borrowing debt service for the coming fiscal year, along with a proposed school district budget of $71,587,946.
Four hours into today's budget balloting at Newtown Middle School, Republican Registrar JoAnne Albanesi had logged only 522 votes. Any registered voter or Newtown resident with at least $1,000 in taxable property on the current Grand List is eligible to vote on today's split budget proposal. Polls remain pen until 8 pm, and Ms Albanesi said that if an unregistered property owner is motivated to head to the polls, they should make contact with the moderator to arrange to cast a ballot. If approved as presented to voters at referendum, the new spending plan would represent a net reduction in taxation of 0.71 percent, with a new tax rate of 33.07 mills, down from the current rate of 33.31. A mill represents one dollar for every $1,000 in taxable property.
The antiquated Route 34 bridge positioned atop Stevenson Dam, which links Monroe to Oxford, will be closed to traffic for a 90-hour period to allow for maintenance work on the hydroelectric dam at the Housatonic River, which has been in service for nearly a century. The bridge’s closure will require that detours be used while maintenance work is underway. The bridge atop the dam will be closed to traffic starting at 6 am on Saturday, May 2. It is scheduled to reopen to traffic at 12:01 am on Wednesday, May 6. Traffic will be detoured using Route 111, Route 110, and Bridge Street in Shelton