| Derby vote tied to cost
New Haven Register Editorial June 25, 2001
Last year, Derby voters turned down by a 2-to-1 margin a $40.6 million plan to build a new high school and convert the current building into a middle school.
This month, voters rejected a scaled down $31.4 million plan; 1,878 voted against the new building, 1,433 for it.
The message from the two votes is clear. The school board and Mayor Marc J. Garofalo, who supported the plan, failed to convince voters there is an overcrowding problem or that it is severe enough to justify the solution presented.
Enrollment has grown. There are some 640 students in Grades
7 through 12 at the high school, an increase of more than 100 in the last
decade. Overcrowding was listed as a concern in the school's recent
The cost also appears to have been decisive in the rejection of the building proposals.
Residents decided they couldn't afford the higher tax bills. Derby had the 18th highest tax rate in the state, according to a Connecticut Policy and Economic Council study last year. Its property taxes increased 34.6 percent from 1994 through 1999, according to CPEC.
But with the cost of a new school cut by $9.2 million, the margin of defeat narrowed to less than 500 votes.
The trend suggests a more affordable proposal might pass on a third
vote. That proposal may keep Grades 7 through 12 in the high school
and involve renovation, temporary classrooms or expansion rather than a
new building. The school board is already helping by moving its offices
to City Hall, making three classrooms available for students.
©New Haven Register 2001