New Derby High School Proponents 
   Should Educate Themselves First 
      Valley Times      to Editor          07/21/01 

The New Haven Register recently reported that the Derby High School referendum failed because of the cost. This newspaper also reported that there were 700 students in Derby High School back in March. In May, there were 650 students. In June, we had 640 students, and as of July the paper reported 638 students.

With statistics like this, I doubt if the cost was the reason for the failure of this referendum. The paper itself, which backed this school, is to blame. When you cover yourself in mud at the expense of your own credibility, you canít expect the public to believe your convictions are honest. There are about 600 students enrolled in the school at the current time, given the seating capacity of the auditorium and that during assemblies a couple of rows of seats are unoccupied.

We are now to believe that by the end of the end of the 2004-2005 school year we will have 782 students enrolled in this high school. Purely conjecture, since you have to take into account transfer students and dropouts. These political proponents of this school who want to ďeducateĒ the public on the merits of a new high school, should start educating themselves on their questionable campaign tactics which are sordid at best.

Tax Board member Joseph J. Ahearn recently stated to the press that the Derby Board of Education (BOE) has finished with a surplus for the last three years. I suspected as much. This is a scandal. Hereís a group of people who have cried poverty within their system when it comes to not being able to fix their track, add on a weight room, or conduct minor repairs to the various school facilities around the city. The least they could have done is to contribute that surplus money to scholarship funds for students who canít afford to pay full tuition to the college of their choice. 

There should be ZERO monies in that budget at the end of every school year. The Derby City Charter needs to be ratified to MAKE the Derby BOE accountable for all their money that goes throughout the various places within the school system. They need to produce a line item budget to the people of this city, so EVERYONE has an idea how education is impacting our youth.

Mr. Ahearn also mentioned that a resident wanted to replace certain members of the Tax Board with people who will give all the money to the superintendent and members of the Derby BOE for education.

In the first place, all the money isnít spent on education; but rather most money is spent on equipment and bills related to education. How much money goes directly into the classroom for education is a mystery. Paying for good teachers is becoming a problem also, especially as most people choose not to enter into the profession nowadays, with all the discipline problems that occur.

As for wanting to replace the members of the Tax Board with more liberal members, Mayor Marc Garofalo wants YOUNGER members on that board whom he can relate to, and who will listen to his every word. Garofalo doesnít appreciate veteran politicians in office, because he canít control them, he canít dictate what they can do.

These people like Ahearn are pros, who know the political game, and arenít fooled by comments like: ďWe are doing this for the children,Ē or ďif you donít give us the money we need, our children will not be properly educated and it will be your fault.Ē 

Younger people who are more liberal intend on giving away the store because they believe the more money you pour into these schools, the more educated your children become. BUNK! If you invest in a good school curriculum, and strong after-school programs, which take no more than 40 percent of a school budget, youíre ahead of the game.

How much does it take to keep the door open after school to talk with troubled youngsters? How much does it cost to invest in a swim, tennis, golf or track team? How much does it cost to invest in an art, music or drama club? How much does it cost to hold reading classes after school for youngsters who canít keep up during school hours? 

How much does it cost to hold a mechanics class, or wood shop class, after school for students who are talented with their hands but otherwise donít want to attend a vocational school? How much does it cost to invest in out-of-state trips for students in the upper classes, and have those students report on that trip upon their return to their classroom? How much does it cost to have once-a-month dances for the older students?

Certainly all of these activities arenít going to cost $31 million. Younger students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades also need after-school activities, and that existing high school needs to be renovated. Adding onto it, and investing in education, TRUE EDUCATION WHICH IMPACTS THE STUDENT IN THE CLASSROOM, AND AFTER SCHOOL, is the only goal left for Derby. Anything else is a waste of time, and a third referendum will only see this city explode into violence. 

People donít want a new high school, Iíve yet to see anyone, however, object to students using their talents in after-school activities. Thatís the real child abuse, to let a childís talent stagnate, and linger until their mind, heart and soul dies. The Derby BOE better remember that because the past year and a half they have forgotten their goal toward their Derby schoolchildren.

Mayor Garofalo has also crossed that fine line between having a noble political dream and turning it into a bitter political nightmare. After what took place in this city the past year and a half, including the attacks on THIS newspaper, it is time to let the dream of a new school die, and seek a few additional classrooms onto the existing school. It is also time for the Republicans and Independents to start nominating their candidates for mayor! 

Itís July, and this mayoral race is only four months away! We need a mayor whoís going to be more moderate in their views and will help the City of Derby in an educational, economical and environmental way. Someone has to be up to the challenge to lead this city into the 21st century, and Mayor Garofaloís dreams are all used up. 

As for Michael Kelleher, heís a headline grabber, no educational expert, but someone who wants to ingratiate himself into every issue in Derby. Heís Mayor Garofaloís puppet, doing the mayorís bidding for him, and thatís all.
This city, and our school system, deserve better than what we have had. This past year and a half should prove that.

MICHAEL F. OLIVA
Derby