BET Democrats carry Central Middle School funding over the line

Newsletter Volume 2 • Number 19

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Not a single Republican BET candidate voted for the project

In a surprising, last-minute victory for school kids in Greenwich, on Tuesday, Democrats on the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) achieved what had seemed impossible just days earlier. Their motion to fully fund a new Central Middle School won the evening, reigniting the chance that construction could start next fall. 

None of the Republican BET members who are running for reelection voted to support the appropriation. Ironically, just two days before, they placed campaign signs around Greenwich saying “BUILD OUR SCHOOLS.” Two Republicans who are not seeking re-election broke ranks and voted with Democrats.

Republican BET candidates try stalling

Before the deciding vote was cast, the room full of school parents and supporters watched as the project’s chief detractor, Nisha Arora, tried several tactics to stall progress. “I’m still hearing roadblocks,” responded BET Democratic caucus leader Leslie Moriarity. “They’re being placed at every step of what we’re trying to accomplish tonight, to get this project funded and move it forward.”

A petition signed by over 600 parents, a separate petition signed by 60 RTM members, and over 115 emails to the BET urged them to approve the funding, confirming the widespread community support. 

“Democrats on the BET have remained steadfast in our unanimous support for families at Central Middle School,” Moriarty said. “But progress has been blocked by BET Republicans. It’s a relief that two retiring members finally broke ranks, so we could do the obvious,” said Leslie Moriarty.

BET Republicans failed to live up to their lawn sign promises at last night’s vote to approve funding for CMS.

What should have been a no-brainer civic endeavor has been fraught for years, primarily because of pushback from the Republican BET majority. CMS was erected in 1957, and by 2018 the Board of Education was warning of significant structural concerns, including that “the exterior wall is separating from the building.” Three years later, Republicans on the BET cut money requested for a structural engineering study. Then on February 4, 2022, children and parents were shocked to find a terse sign posted on the school’s front door: “Dangerous and Unsafe for Human Occupancy.”

The town had condemned the building precisely because the exterior walls seemed in danger of crumbling. Within weeks, temporary shoring was erected, but even that didn’t stop Republicans on the BET from filibustering. Until tonight’s surprise vote, it appeared construction on a new school might be delayed another year, and potentially cost millions more as construction costs rise.

What’s next: Your turn to give Democrats control of the BET

The appropriation next goes before a special session of the 230-member Representative Town Meeting, on Monday, Oct. 30, which has the authority to approve or reduce the construction funding. That vote, if affirmative, will give the CMS building committee what it needs to apply for state reimbursement and continue on the timeline to begin construction next year.

This meeting is just one more example of the stark difference between the BET choices in the upcoming town election. Democrats are steadfast, level-headed, team players who support our schools. With so many school projects in need of renovation, we need a reliable slate making funding decisions. Democrats voted for schools, our kids and our community. The Republicans on the ballot voted for none of that. Vote for all 6 BET Democrats on November 7th.

Voting guide to preserve the RTM

You may have read the NY Times article about “signgate” and the efforts by right-wing extremists to take over the RTM and install a cadre that will vote as they instruct. Vote only for the bipartisan slate recommended by the Voting Moms.

Volume 2, Number 19 • October 25, 2023
Paid for by the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee.
Greenwich Democratic Town Committee P.O. Box 126 Greenwich, CT 06836