The Next Item

How much am I bid for this nearly new school?

How much am I bid for this nearly new school?

Board of Ed to meet Wednesday on Center School
By Melvin Mason on November 30, 2015

Wait, what? We are tearing down a school? But didn’t the Superintendent, Janet Robinson, tell us how crowded our schools are and we had to buy these expensive trailers….umm, portable classrooms for our children? Because our school population went up but the population didn’t. Oh wait, look at that! Our school population didn’t go up either. In fact, it went down. Hold on for a second. What do they call that again when an administrator says one thing and it turns out to be completely the opposite? Oh yeah, now we remember, it’s called “lying”. Maybe if the Board of Education actually demanded real numbers from the Administration it wouldn’t be so…umm, confusing.

At least we are familiar with Harkins/Kaiser’s habits. They have apparently never seen a piece of Town owned property they wouldn’t like to sell at below market price. It kind of makes you wonder why there aren’t a few apartment buildings or condos being built in our parks. Paradise Green is in the Transit Oriented District isn’t it? There is the green on West Broad too…..


31 Responses to “The Next Item”

  1. 1 ronmoreau

    Jez, Hopefully it’s not sold to The Federal Government or Bridgeport. (GAG )That’s turned out good for Stratford,(GAG). Let alone New Haven. Bad enough we have the state telling us we have to spend $100 millon to renovate Stratford high ar else….

  2. 2 ronmoreau

    Same guys maybe?

  3. 3 jezebel282


    We weren’t clever enough to understand the references in your post.

    So our response is “Huh?”

  4. 4 jezebel282

    But what we are also confused about is whether or not the BOE has a shortage of students or a shortage of classrooms. With big ugly trailers parked at nearly every school one would think that Stratford schools are bursting at the seams. Yet enrollment is down and we are about to bulldoze an entire school.

    Has someone been lying to us?

  5. 5 mikereynolds

    “With big ugly trailers parked at nearly every school ”

    Aside from Nichols where else are there trailers?

  6. 6 jezebel282

    Eli Whitney, Lordship, Bunnell, Stratford High….we haven’t driven behind Franklin yet, but there is probably one there too.

    Trailers….err portable classrooms solve everything.

  7. There has been a posting on Facebook that four members of the BOE are “in favor” of decommissioning Center School. The members named were: Barnaby, Sheehy, Feehan and Chaloux. It’s no big surprise to me that it’s those four. Curiously, I wonder if they were the same four that attended the “secret” meeting done behind-the-back of the Chairwoman where the 2015-16 budget offered by the Town was accepted? If so, they all ought to be ashamed of themselves and they shouldn’t be sitting in the seats you have been elected to sit in! They have proven by their actions that they cannot don’t work in the best interests of the residents, taxpayers or children and each work solely for the interests of a bad Town administration. Personally, I think Chris Barnaby should recuse himself. He’s been absent for so many meetings, and only shows up for the ones which need some sort of dirty work done for the Mayor and his administration. Certainly not fair to the people of Stratford, that’s for sure. He’s been known to “stay on the fence” until he’s ready to show his true colors. Additionally, isn’t he in the business of roofing and other housing materials, like windows, doors, etc.? Doesn’t he have something to gain with new construction?

    Center School is one of the newer of Stratford’s elementary schools. Not only is it a single story building, it is air-conditioned, it is handicapped accessible with widened doorways and has been used since it was closed as a district school for special needs programs. Sadly, the year it closed as an elementary school, Center School was named a Blue Ribbon school. The award had to be declined because the school had closed its doors.
    Stratford is out of open space – what happens when more school space IS needed? Sure, right now our school enrollment has decreased. This decrease has occurred of the last few years and I have to question, as we all should, whether this had to do with the recession and serious economic downturn. Stratford was hit hard, and honestly, has not recovered. Towns and cities around us have recovered – yet, Stratford has stagnated. Why? Bad politics, bad policy. Additionally, has any thought been given as to whether, perhaps, the decrease was aided by the huge number of home foreclosures in Stratford? These foreclosures have no doubt caused families to move elsewhere. With that said, with the right administration and positive economic growth, I have no doubt that our enrollment will increase at some point in the not too distant future.

    What I am baffled by with the thought of decommissioning a school, is why – if enrollment is down – we have added so many portables to schools (Nichols, Eli Whitney, Stratford High, Lordship, etc.). Can our administration, on both the Town side and BOE side, as well as the Board members, especially, Barnaby, Sheehy, Feehan and Chaloux – the “BOE Fab Four” provide a response? What it does indicate to me is that we do not have enough space in our schools to house the children there. It indicates that perhaps we DO need the Center School building to remain as a school It indicates to me that when this, the last school closed in or about 2005, the students got crammed into other schools causing overcrowding. So, despite enrollment being down 6%, we do seem to be busting at the seams in our other schools. We should be utilizing the school space we have. We should be utilizing Center School as an educational institution, not as a parking garage, apartments and whatever else the Harkins administration has in mind. Center School should be remediated and utilized as a school, not for the interests of John Harkins and his TOD mission!

    If the BOE Fab Four are seriously going to vote to decommission the building as a school, it should be done at the END of the school year – not after programs have already started and children in these programs settled in. The programs which utilize Center School are programs for special needs children, as well as programs for in-school suspension. With respect to the special needs programs, continuity is very important to children with special needs and a decision like this would not be taking their interests into account.
    I would seriously hope that the Board of the BOE doesn’t make a decision that will harm Stratford for years to come. The decision to decommission the building would be a decision that would do more harm than good over the long term.

  8. 8 stfdprofessor1

    The whole “Transit Oriented District” thing is just another big fleecing of Stratford by the thieves that have been robbing this town blind for years WAKE UP PEOPLE!

    First off it’s a STUPID idea, people are moving out of Connecticut NOT moving in. But if they did move in they would move in with more children (or make some while they’re here). Children equal more students, which equals more tax dollars to the Board of Ed- OOOooooooh and NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS TO HANDLE THOSE CHILDREN- STUPID!!!

    What Stratford needs is MORE BUSINESS to move in- NOT MORE RESIDENTS. Perhaps if the economic development director could earn her paycheck in a more vertical position she would help in that endeavour. Then again how much can one expect for $100k and a new car!!! (right “John”)

    In the time being the STUPID “Transit Oriented District” will just fill the pockets of the local lawyers and builders who are ALWAYS involved in these shenanigans in our town. FOLLOW THE MONEY PEOPLE…FOLLOW THE DAMN MONEY!!!

    WE WILL BE SCREWED AGAIN and left with a New England town whose looks and character will be DESTROYED FOREVER by this overcrowding and modern architecture. SAY HELLO TO THE BEGINNING OF URBAN BLIGHT AND GOODBYE TO MORE OF YOUR PROPERTY VALUE!!!

  9. Professor ~ I totally agree with you!

  10. 10 Rockannand

    Jez, where did you find that picture of James Spayder!! Its great!!

  11. 11 jezebel282


    “where did you find that picture of James Spayder!!”
    Well we were on the set of the Blacklist having lunch with Spader when…
    We found it on Google. Where else?

  12. 12 jezebel282


    “The whole “Transit Oriented District” thing is just another big fleecing of Stratford by the thieves”

    One of the very first things the Council should consider (right after taking the cars keys away from all the Deputy Chiefs, Directors, Assistant Directors and Chiefs that we give nice big cars to) is the compensation for the Town Attorney. As long as we keep providing unlimited tax dollars for legal fees and court costs our budget and contracts will never be under control.

    The Council has the power to convert the compensation for the Town Attorney to a salaried position. That action alone would literally save the Town millions.

    As we can see with yet another plan to sell of Town assets, this administration has lost all credibility. It is sad, but the truth is that citizens and businesses no longer believe anything that comes out of Town Hall. Those that do tend to be collecting a paycheck, commission or list the Town as an Account Receivable on their books.

    That leaves a vacuum in Stratford that can only be filled by an ethical Council that is willing to step up. And by that we do not mean getting your picture taken with Mayor Ganim.

    If you are a councilman and you are going to stand with someone and have your picture taken it should be Harold Watson, Henry Bruce or Tom Yemm.

  13. 13 stfdprofessor1

    “If you are a councilman and you are going to stand with someone and have your picture taken it should be Harold Watson, Henry Bruce or Tom Yemm.”

    150% agreed, when I see a picture like this all I can think of is “HERE WE GO AGAIN”!!!

  14. Well, another victory for the people of Stratford. At last night’s BOE special meeting, there were several speakers. What was most telling was that there was nothing on the Agenda about the “presentation” by the GBRC / Stratford ED (via Amy Knorr). The presentation appeared to indicate that this whole “decertification” issue was “in the bag.” Amy Knorr indicated that she took the teacher from one of the programs (STRIVE, I believe) to a few locations to which they could possibly be relocated. Um, yeah, she did, but it was done yesterday (the day of the meeting) and quite rushed, not carefully or thoughtfully done at all.

    First of all, that presentation had no place there last night. It was another attempt (reminiscent of the April 6, 2015 meeting w/r/t the WPCA sale) to railroad the people – show them a presentation and instead of there being 48 hours in between the presentation and vote, it was to happen immediately. WOW! No lessons learned by that administration! You’d think they’d do things differently after that debacle. But, I guess, not putting the presentation on the agenda was there way of “snowing” the people.

    The Board members stormed in – looking quite agitated. It was apparent that the “BOE Fab Four” had every intention of fulfilling the wishes of the Mayor and voting in favor of decertification. It was also rumored that one member might not show, but she flew in just as the meeting was set to begin. Yes, Chris Barnaby, Jim Feehan, Bob Chaloux and Theresa Sheehy had every intention of voting in favor – that was a give in. Well, the tables turned and after one motion to table was knocked down by those four (with a very loud, adamant “NO” by Chris Barnaby, who sounded more like a snot-nosed brat than a Board Member), a discussion was had. Jim Feehan gave a rhetoric on “transparency.” What was apparent was that he had not done his homework. He made a comment that Center School, over the last 9 or 10 years only had 32 students there daily. He was wrong on that. Up to this year, September to be exact, when the Town started all of the hoopla about taking the school property, there had been upwards of 150 students, and additional staff members. That was for the last 9 of the 10 years Center School has not been utilized as a district school. I was, frankly, appalled at Jim Feehan’s indicates that they were being “transparent” when they had every intention of voting as the Mayor wanted them to and that he seemed to have no knowledge of Center School, it’s history before closing or after.
    Following that, Len Petrucelli spoke – obviously against the decertification, as was Janci Pust-Marcone, who spoke against the decertification. Andrea Veilleux also indicated her unwillingness to vote in favor of the action. It was when Bob Chaloux then spoke that it appeared he finally realized it was a horrible and rushed idea. Now, the other three (Barnaby, Feehan and Sheehy) realized that if a vote was had, it may not be a 4-3 in favor, it could be a 4-3 against. Jim Feehan (who I guarantee Harkins is very pissed at right now) made another motion to table. It was seconded, and another vote was taken – and it was tabled. I do say, Chris Barnaby did not look to happy – apparently expecting a reaming from Harkins as well. I think it’s time for him to bid politics a farewell. People have really started seeing through his boyish charm too.

    John, please don’t continue to try and shove crap at the people and expect them to sit at the table and eat it! You are absolutely not serving the people of Stratford.

    It was an absolute pleasure to see so many of our newly elected council and zoning members in attendance. They will work in the best interests of the people of this Town.

  15. 15 Rockannand

    Nice to see some of the members of these boards and commissions have a conscience when it comes to making big decisions. This TOD plan has been a poorly conceived and planned deal since it inception over 4 years ago. I saw the plan mid-2012 and was stunned at how insulated the group was from the people. Karen Kaiser is probably a very nice person and well meaning, but not qualified for this job. Check out her LinkedIn profile. The only other position on her profile other than the current one since she graduated from Fairfield in lat 80’s is something called Strategic Initiatives. She still shows as working for the firm – looks like a management consultancy she started in 2008. No web site, not references when you google. Where is the 5-star resume? And Amy Knorr? Where are her qualifications for EconDev?

    We have people in this town qualified to be on the EconDev Commission, but they are not consulted or involved. Look at the members of the Stratford Chamber of Commerce. Qualified? or just friends and family of the politically connected?

  16. Dear PCS,
    Thanks for your very detailed account of the proceedings, I felt like I was there. I actually think Melvin Mason does a good job reporting but he would not be up to capturing the backstory as you did so well.

  17. AlwaysLeft ~ Thank you for the compliment and you are quite welcome!

  18. I’m not sure how many of you are aware of something that was noticed over this past weekend. A neighbor noticed that the Center School Bell – which dates back to the 1800’s – was missing. There was a very ebbulient discussion on Facebook about it as well. The bell hung 20 feet up in a brick “box” against the school. To remove it, a crew would have been needed in order for it not to be damaged. The eyehook was sawed through and the bell taken. On Monday morning – probably between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m., the custodian, who happens to be my husband, found the bell on the grass a short distance away, but on the street side. It wasn’t there before – it would’ve been noticed by the neighbor who took the photo of the empty “box” and also by the people there over the weekend for Sterling House Basketball.

    If it were kids, neighbors would have noticed. Really, anyone other than Town personnel on ladders, sawing away at the eyehook, would have been noticed. Neighbors would not have had a second thought about a Town truck. Presumably, orders were given to DPW to remove the bell in preparation for demolition of the building. You know, someone will slip on who gave the orders to take the bell. It’s only a matter of time. I can guarantee you that there were Town trucks and Town equipment involved – it would’ve been noticed otherwise. Another indication that at last week’s meeting, the Town was 100% positive it was a done deal and they had the a crew ready and waiting to begin destruction.

    This should not be how things work in our Town. The horse should not be travelling behind the cart. It’s like a bunch of political greed mongers are feverishly biting away pieces of our Town. Things shouldn’t be happening this way! As far as I am concerned, we have a bunch of Republican bullies running the show and they seem to think they can do whatever they want. Honestly, I wish we could go back in time and get Jim Miron back! Go back a little farther, before we made the change from Manager/Council to Mayor/Council! Geeze, hindsight is 20-20 on that one!

    First of all, when discussions were had not too long ago about closing a school, there was a Long Range Planning Committee made up of several people, including board members, teachers, citizens. However, this wasn’t done with Center School. As a matter of fact, none of the meeting minutes (of which there are very few) associated with the Long Range Planning committee, a sub-committee of the BOE Board, which is Chaired by Chris Barnaby, have anything about plans for Center School. If the BOE was aware, there was nothing to indicate it. It truly sounds like a select few were aware of the plans and intentions. The whole plan associated with the “remediation and demolition” plan that the Town had for Center School was done so shadily. First, in August, they notified the BOE that they needed to vacate the school by September 3. In newspaper articles, the Town (via Karen Kaiser and/or Amy Knorr) was quoted that the school was unused. That was a complete inaccuracy. Also, when the “BOE Fab Four” went behind the back of the Chairwoman, Andrea Veilleux, and accepted a compromise to the budget offered by the Town to the BOE, the BOE administration had to get creative. So, they planned on moving ALPHA from Birdseye to Center in order to save the money paid to the Town for “rent.” When the BOE told the Town they had no alternative locations for the special education programs housed at Center School, the Town told the BOE it was “their problem.” They didn’t offer assistance in August or September. Not only that, they put the horse behind the cart by not discussing their intentions with the Town early on – because, as a building which is certified as a school on the State records, it would need to be “decertified” in order to be turned over to the Town.

    The BOE is being bullied by the Town, and by certain members of the Board of the BOE! This too is not how things should work! We elected these people to work in the best interest of the Town, not the best interests of their party – whether it be Republican or Democrat!

    Frankly, I’m glad Harkins isn’t happy – it means the people are finally starting to come together and put pressure on doing things the right way – honesty first! Sure, there are die-hard party-line Republicans who, even though they know it’s wrong, will stick with their party. It’s pretty sad. I wish he would resign and take his cronies with him (including some of the board members on the BOE too)!

  19. 19 jezebel282


    “die-hard party-line Republicans who, even though they know it’s wrong, will stick with their party.”

    The Stratford Republican Town Committee has nothing to do with the Republican Party. It is only a bunch of very clever people trading on their influence and position for compensation and then use Lou Decilio to whip the others into shape and spread his malignancy throughout the Town.

    This Town has always been run like this. It is only a question of degree as to who has been worse or more greedy.

    This latest election is the best hope we’ve had in decades for honest leadership. That may change too, but for now let us hope that they are both honest and bold.

    PCS you are very correct in identifying some of the problems at the BOE. There are many more. The BOE hasn’t produced a readable budget in two years. They simply pass the problem onto the Council instead of insisting on actual data and clarity. Somehow it has been forgotten that BOE members are elected officials representing the taxpayers and that the taxpayers hire the Superintendent, not the other way around.

    We are going to need purposeful and effective measures from the BOE and the Council working together to remedy the budget problems created by their predecessors. Mark Dumas’ call for a hiring freeze is a start and we don’t wish to discourage him. But there are only eight open positions in the Town and only two of those have salaries above minimum wage. A hiring freeze sounds fiscally responsible, but it won’t move the bottom line.

    Changing the Town Attorney’s compensation to a salaried position instead of allowing unlimited billing would be a better start. Clawing back some of the 15-30% raises given to non-union employees would be another step. And, of course, our personal favorite, collect those car keys from the Directors, Chiefs and other “important” persons who do not think $100,000+/year plus full benefits is enough to be able to afford their own car and fuel to commute to work.

  20. 20 stfdprofessor1

    “probably between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m., the custodian, who happens to be my husband, found the bell on the grass a short distance away, but on the street side. It wasn’t there before – it would’ve been noticed by the neighbor who took the photo of the empty “box” and also by the people there over the weekend for Sterling House Basketball.”

    Sounds to me like the person who STOLE IT felt the heat was on and snuck it back so people would stop trying to find it. That person very possibly could have been a public works employee or town official who directed public works to get it for them.

    “before we made the change from Manager/Council to Mayor/Council! Geeze, hindsight is 20-20 on that one!”

    It’s not too late to fix that one, all it would take is a concerted effort!!!

  21. Re the school bell: does anyone know if the Stratford Police are investigating this act of theft/vandalism? The idea that someone would have wanted this as a “trophy” is repugnant and rises to a much more serious level than a missing VYPL sign from the Vitamin Shack.

  22. 22 jezebel282


    We are going to go way out on a limb and say that when the highest officials in the Stratford Police Department take out their own checkbooks and contribute to their boss’s Vote Yes campaign, stealing or moving a couple of $3 lawn signs takes on much more importance than property owned by taxpayers.

    Which reminds us! WPCA Get Answers still needs donations because of their legal expense fighting for OUR rights. They can’t twist town employees arms like say a mayor can. You can click here to donate:


  23. AlwaysLeft ~funny, my husband is taken aback that the police weren’t called about it. I told him it would honestly be a waste of time – within 24 hours after it was noticed by a neighbor and posted on Facebook (where Harkins’ cronies lurk), it was dumped on the lawn in front of the school. Besides that, they only send the DB out for stolen lawn signs! I sent an e-mail to Mo McCarthy about it. I point blank asked on whose orders and when did DPW remove the bell. He responded that as soon as he heard about it, he drove over to see for himself. He said no one gave DPW orders and it was not removed by DPW. So, I responded that I guess I’d have to take him on his word. And, as I said to him – if only bells could talk. All other school buildings were upgraded with video cameras, Center School was not. Since the bell sat 20 feet up, it would not have been kids. Another neighbor indicated to my husband that she noticed it missing in late summer, just before school was set to start. I was also told that someone remembered scaffolding in late summer – work being done on the building. Notice was given to the BOE to vacate Center School by September 3 in mid-August. They indicated the school was set for remediation and demolition. So, it does seem kind of odd – the school is set to be demolished, the bell – which dates back to probably the 1890s (when Center Graded School was opened and is considered a Stratford artifact) – comes up missing. There will be a leak at some point on who took it. Since it was gone that long, I think if it were stolen to be sold for scrap, it would’ve been long gone.

    There is a great deal wrong these days with Stratford and John Harkins isn’t learning any lessons from the uprising of the people. We are called “lunatics” and “liars” by Harkins and his top administrators (things do leak out when they are overheard). It’s sad that a good many of the people we elected to do right by us have proven to only do right by their party. When we voice our opinions, thoughts, facts – we are ridiculed, lambasted, etc.

    I feel like an idiot at times because I supported some of these individuals – I supported Harkins. I was a major, vocal opponent against Miron during his term. I hated what was done to people who worked for the Town when Miron was sworn in (after reading the Minority Report which he participated in writing against the change in government). But, when I look at what is going on in Stratford now – Miron was doing a pretty good job and I wonder where Stratford would be if he was re-elected. As I said before, hind-sight is 20-20.

  24. 24 jezebel282

    Seriously, PCS? You’d rather have a sociopath and his felon father in charge? Back to the days of the Buturla Boys? Heather Habelka? Mark Hadadd?

    No. We would prefer to work for a return to a Council/Town Manager government or at least major revisions to the Charter to inject limits on a mayor.

    The good ole days weren’t good at all.

  25. Jez ~ while I would prefer the Manager/Council back again, I’m thinking we might be farther along on some things had Harkins not gotten elected. Kind of like the “devil we know” scenario. But, two terms of him is enough “devil” – can’t wait for that change!

  26. 26 jezebel282


    I think the point that having a “strong” mayor is a good thing has been completely disproved during the last 10 years. And we’ve tried both flavors; DTC & RTC.

  27. Well, Jez, now would be the time to revert back – correct that HUGE mistake. I believe we now have a council that has already proven the ability to work together in a bipartisan manner. And, having worked in the legal sector for the past 36 years, an attorney-councilman that has gained admiration of many – even outside his district. If it did revert, I would trust their choice for TM. Somehow, I doubt that’s going to happen, so I would hope that a “people’s candidate” is the flavor of the next election – sort of like this last election for Town Council.

  28. 28 1cyclops

    If you really love our town and want to make it a wonderful community again, you WILL work to bring back the Council-Manager form of government and retain the services of a professional who is trained, educated, and qualified
    to manage a town. (Period)!!

  29. I have the same fondness and nostalgia for a Town Manager form of government but the reality is that I don’t see that being possible. I think there are just too many Republicans and Democrats in town with vested interests (including those who want to be the next Mayor) to make that plausible. I know folks will say “we the people” can make that happen but without the support of either party, it’s not likely. There is now just too much patronage at stake to let that happen. It’s similar to railing against full-time Registrars. When Lou had the majority, we could argue against needing or paying for full time. So now that the Democrats run the Council, don’t you think they owe an allegiance to Mr. Marcone to ensure his salary is not reduced?

  30. 30 stfdprofessor1

    “I have the same fondness and nostalgia for a Town Manager form of government but the reality is that I don’t see that being possible. I think there are just too many Republicans and Democrats in town with vested interests (including those who want to be the next Mayor) to make that plausible.”

    That’s what many thought of the water treatment plant and the citizens one, we just need to all get off our asses and DO IT AGAIN!!!

  31. 31 stfdprofessor1

    OOOoooos senior moment in the post above, rather “the citizens WON”

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