Does Readers a Disservice – Mary Jo Phelps

Selectmen Phil Sengle does readers of the Harbor News a disservice in his March 15 letter “Does Not Benefit Students” regarding next year’s Board of Education (BOE) budget. The letter, which is oddly lacking in both specifics and evidence, mirrors efforts by Republicans at the national level to promote antagonism toward the public sector generally and public education specifically.

Mr. Sengle complains about “high salaries and benefits” for “management and administrative staff” without telling us where these salaries/benefits place us at the state level. The very first town I looked at (Old Saybrook, a shoreline town within our District Reference Group) showed salaries very similar or slightly higher than ours (across the board) even though it had far fewer students.

As for the 2.2 percent yearly raise that administrators will receive over their three-year contract, I believe this is close to or the same percent salary increase that many on the town side will receive.

Lastly, Mr. Sengle calls for the BOE to close the Pierson School to save money. Looking at the BOE’s Long Range Facilities Assessment Study, you will see that up-front renovation costs for both Joel and Eliot schools to accommodate Pierson’s 250 students are estimated at $80- to $89 million. Yes, we would save money on building maintenance in the long run, but we would first have significant expenditures (take a look at the study online at to see the pros and cons of this proposal).

Our superintendent, along with the BOE and administrators working for several months, consider a dizzying number of factors (including implications for taxpayers) when putting the budget together, and I for one am weary of those who suggest otherwise.

Mary Jo Phelps

Published Apr 04, 2018 –

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