Letter: What do Smith and Vitali have against schools?
To the Editor:
What do Alderman Win Smith III and Alderman Raymond Vitali have against public schools in the city?
During the Board of Aldermen meeting on Feb. 3, Alderman Raymond Vitali and freshman Alderman Win Smith III chose to vote against many of the bonding ordinances brought before the board. Voting this way, of course, is their right as representatives of their districts. However, the bonding issues they chose to oppose prove to be very revealing. For example, Win Smith III was the only vote against bonding for the purchase of a snowplow, pumper truck, and other vehicles needed by the public works department.
But these two aldermen became particularly animated when it came to making improvements to two public schools in the city.
Both Vitali and Smith III thanked the parents of the schools for coming out and speaking in support (earlier in the meeting) of the bonding ordinance. Moments later, both Win Smith III and Ray Vitali voted against the ordinance. They were the only aldermen to do so.
The motion before the board had to do with improvements to Pumpkin Delight and Live Oaks schools. Pumpkin Delight was built around 1949 and has not been renovated since then. The ordinance would provide funds to replace a makeshift media center (library) with a permanent one that is dedicated to that purpose. There would also be a new multipurpose room that currently serves as both a cafeteria and gymnasium. A security component including “locking vestibules” is also proposed. The Live Oaks improvements have to do with safety in the parent-drop-off area, which is described in the proposal as “very dangerous.”
Vitali also suggested there are schools “that are on the edge of closing.” The population of Milford is going up. It would be wrongheaded to close schools while the city population is increasing. Both Win Smith III and Vitali repeatedly stated that the Board of Ed had not provided a long-term plan. This is not correct. First, there was a long-term plan provided in 2014 (Ald. Vitali opposed it), and there is always an additional 5 Year Capital Improvement Plan provided by the Board of Education to the mayor every year. The mayor tried to explain this to the duo, but it seemed to be rejected by them out of hand.
Former mayor and current Board of Education Chief Operations Officer James Richetelli stated that the traffic is an issue at Live Oaks and must be addressed. He explained that where parents would drop off in the circle was not designated as a fire lane, which took away approximately 12 parking spaces and a staging area. Richetelli further stated that all projects in the bonding ordinance are projects that “need to be done now.”
Again. What do Alderman Win Smith III and Alderman Raymond Vitali have against public schools in the city?
Michael V. Brown