Well, this one hits a little too close to home. A mile and a half from home to be exact. Earlier this week, our city of just under 50,000 was rocked when reports surfaced of the use of "scream rooms" at Farm Hill Elementary School in Middletown. If a school in your town makes national media for a story like this, it's definitely not a good thing. Huffington Post , Fox news, and several other national media outlets picked this story up.
There will be many residents who say any combination of the following statements: "I don't have kids in school, it does not effect me," or" I have no grounds or standing to complain about this issue"........ My only response is YES YOU DO!
If you don't think this matter concerns you, just wait until you put your house on the market this spring and there are dozens fewer families looking to purchase a home in this city. I have had several buyer clients with children in the last 2 days express serious reservations about continuing their home search in Middletown, and another eliminating the city from their home search criteria altogether. That is just me, one Realtor! When there are fewer families looking to purchase homes in this city, it takes longer to sell houses, home values decline, less money is spent in local businesses, and the tax base decreases. In short, this affects everyone.
There has been no shortage of bad press involving our Superintendent's Office and the Board of Education over the past 2 years. There's the payroll position dispute, Board of Labor Relations dispute over the business manager position, arrest of the business manager on alleged assault charges, or the investigation into questionable accounting practices, and mis use of funds.
What has this translated to over the last year and a half? 2010 saw 408 total residential sales in Middletown, CT ( single family, condominium and multi family). 2011 saw a total of 355. A decline of 13%. What about surrounding towns? Portland dropped 11.4%, Haddam dropped off 8.7%, Cromwell saw a drop from 161 to 159 or 1.2%, and Middlefield actually saw an INCREASE in the amount of sales by 17.9%, 28 closed sales in 2010 compared to 33 in 2011.
Now certainly the entire decrease in sales is not due to the perception of our schools, but you can bet your bottom dollar it is playing a major role.
It was reported today that Superintendent Michael Frechette announced he has directed all administrators to end the use of "time out" rooms for students who are not special education students. Frechette also has acknowledged that " mistakes were made ". It doesn't take a doctorate in education to figure out that something was wrong here. It is not enough for Frechette to say that things will be done differently from now on, there need to be consequences for how things were done. It's time that Middletown residents speak up and demand that high paid administrators be held accountable for their poor decisions. Middletown voters ushered in all new members of the Board of Education for the 5 seats that were open in this past November's election. It's high time the Board of Education start ushering out a large portion of the current central office administration.
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