Greenwich is no Darien

Newsletter Volume 2 • Number 38

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How comparing apples to oranges is doing a disservice to Greenwich’s school children

It’s become standard operating procedure for some on the right to cite comparisons between the Greenwich Public Schools (GPS) and our smaller, less diverse neighbors as a reason to cut salaries, staff and budgets.
But comparisons can be tricky — even within a school district. According to the federal government, GPS is a poor school district, requiring much more aid than its neighbors, because we have many more low-income students. According to the state, we’re so wealthy, due to our astronomical tax base (our “Grand List”), that we receive significantly less state aid than those same nearby towns.

So rambling, right wing denunciations that reference unvalidated figures, or “district comps” that aren’t comparable (apples aren’t oranges), are really just political documents disguised as data. They lead to decisions that negatively impact our town

Greenwich isn’t anything like its neighboring towns.

Recently, as the town finance board, the BET, evaluated the Greenwich Public Schools, there were numerous comparisons to New Canaan, Darien and Westport. But using those towns as a reference is not productive or instructive.

To begin with, the population of Greenwich is over 63,000. Darien and New Canaan have populations of about 20,000. Westport has 28,000.

Greenwich has 15 schools, and over 8,600 students. These other towns have 5-8 schools and 4,000-5,300 students.

Our population is dramatically more diverse. We have four Title One schools, schools where at least 40% of the students live in low-income households. They have none.

Nearly 20% of our high school students qualify for free and reduced lunch. In New Canaan that number is zero. Darien and Westport have 3%

Our schools don’t just serve children, we support families too.

Invariably school budget slashers say they just want to keep Greenwich affordable. If so, then they should be mindful that our most vulnerable residents are public school students who rely on Greenwich schools not just for academics, but also as a place to eat breakfast and lunch, exercise, recreate and prepare for a productive future.

This is our opportunity as a town to efficiently support not just a generation of young people, but also keep Greenwich affordable for their parents and grandparents too.

Our schools’ mission is uniquely broad and ambitious

There is no other town in Connecticut with a school district as large and diverse, and a student body that is so high achieving. This is a credit to our town.

Greenwich Public Schools’ services reach all kinds of students, from very low-income, to very high, of all academic abilities.

  • Our special education population continues to grow
  • We offer 31 AP courses
  • Our students speak 42 languages
  • Students have won multiple international science prizes including the Google Science Fair and the Regeneron Science competition
  • In the past three years GHS has won state championships in ten sports
  • GHS sends dozens of students every year to top colleges around the country and the world

Part of the reason we have achieved this level of success historically is that we have invested in our schools, because we can afford to. That commitment needs to remain strong.

We can offer our children more for less

That’s another way Greenwich is unique. We have the richest Grand List in the state by far, at over $34 billion. This means we can provide superior resources to our community at a much lower tax rate than neighboring towns. So considering the unique diversity of our students’ needs and capabilities, and the high expectations parents have for them, let’s focus on what’s right for Greenwich, not for Westport, Darien or New Canaan. There’s no comparison.

Show your support for funding our public schools’ budget. Email the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) and tell them our children are worth the expense.

Greenwich Rep. Khanna joins nationwide Supreme Court appeal to keep abortion pill legal

Representative Rachel Khanna, center, at a CT Assembly Reproductive Rights Caucus meeting. To her right, Rep. Jillian Gilchrest; behind her, State Treasurer Erick Russell and, to her left, Rep. Matt Blumenthal.

State Representative Rachel Khanna (D-149) has joined a group of more than 600 legislators from 49 states who signed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging the justices to overturn a federal appellate court decision that would roll back access to mifepristone. Mifepristone, along with another drug, is used to safely terminate early pregnancies and treat miscarriages, collectively accounting for half of all abortions performed in the U.S.

In December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. This will be the first major test of the limits to women’s reproductive freedom since the Supreme Court overturned any constitutional right to abortion.

“The ability to decide when to start a family has a long-term impact on the economic success of women and their children,” Khanna said. “It is a basic freedom and a human right.”

For your calendar

Meetings can be watched on Greenwich Community Television Channels 24 (Verizon), 79 (Optimum), GCTV on YouTube, or in person at the Town Hall Meeting Room.

Volume 2, Number 38 • February 22, 2024
Paid for by the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee.
Greenwich Democratic Town Committee P.O. Box 126 Greenwich, CT 06836