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Should Stratford's Schools Be Maintained Year-round?

The town only maintains school grounds when school is in session, and sometimes waits until the last minute before the school year begins to trim the grass and clean up garbage -- should that change?

The grounds at and elementary schools were in disarray Monday, merely days before the first day of school for students.

Overgrown grass at Nichols seemed to confine the building, as teachers held first-day-back activities inside. At Franklin, in addition to an unkempt lawn, piles of rubbish were strewn about the school grounds, visible to anyone driving or walking by on Barnum Avenue.

"We really expected the school to look more inviting," a parent, Rich, whose son will attend kindergarten at Nichols this year, told Stratford Patch via email last week. "Quite a few of us [are] appalled at the deplorable conditions around the school."

Town officials say public works will have the schools tidy for , which is Friday for kindergarteners and Thursday for all other students.

"It will be done," said Councilman John Dempsey of the Fifth District, which is where Nichols Elementary is located. "It will be set by Thursday."

"Right before school, they dress them up," said Bob Sweger, plant operations and transportation manager for the .

Dempsey cited "budget restraints" as the reason why Stratford school grounds are not maintained in the summer, when school's not in session. Sweger, likewise, said the money's not there for the preservation.

Some residents see this as a "disservice" and a showing of irresponsible town government.

"Why should town-owned property only look nice at certain times?” Rich Tomas wrote on the Stratford Facebook page. "It is public property and reflects on the town."

"Most homes sell in the summer," wrote Robert Antonelos. "It's a disservice for residents that want to sell their homes. They should be maintained all year."

Do you think Stratford school grounds should be maintained year-round? Let us know what you think by voting in our poll and commenting below.

Editor's note: A message left for a public works supervisor was not returned Monday.

Mike Reynolds August 28, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Karen, that is insane!
Matt August 28, 2012 at 11:57 PM
What a load of crap! The town just came up wiht a new blight related ordinance and goes after tax payers for blighted properties when many of the worst blighted properties are town owned. Like I said look at the public works yard, the old dog pound, Wooster Pond (cess pool), the weeds growing back up around Wooster pond, Clover Field, the list can go on....and let's add the schools now in the summers because " there is no money". It will not be long before we are just annexed by the city of Bridgeport and start paying mill rates in the 50's and still have nothing to show for it. Public woks need to be audited for efficiency and effectiveness. Crews of 5 do not have to show up to do every job. We had a manhole replaced on our street this summer and althought it only took two days, there were 5 guys on the scence for both days...ridiculous. h
JibCT August 29, 2012 at 12:05 AM
PTA committees normally only function during the school year, and not all schools have a gardening committees. Nichols has had a gardening committee (and may still), but it has also had problems getting parents to actually volunteer for the work. Additionally, a clean/up planting is usually planned for the spring to coincide with the Mother's Day plant sale. Then whatever leftover plants the have or usually planted around the front door/walk. This wouldn't help much with the summer months. Note: Some schools have scouts sign up for leaf raking or weeding/planting, but again it tends to be during the school year.
Ann B August 29, 2012 at 01:12 AM
For many years most of the schools have Garden clubs that do take care of the flowers infront of the school. As a past PTA president, I would make sure that the school grounds were more than ready for the first day of school. But it isn't the job of the PTA's it is public works. But we whould be able as the PtA to upkeep the flower beds. THIS YEAR THE PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT CUT DOWN ALL THE FLOWERS IN FRONT OF WILCOXSON AND IT LOOKS AWFUL. I FEEL SO SAD FOR THE STUDENTS.
Jason Bagley (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Councilman Jason Santi of the Fourth District (of which Franklin is a part) just emailed me the following message (we talked this afternoon about an issue you can read about Wednesday morning): "After our conversation, I took a ride by Franklin. I looked at the school grounds. Public Works did a great job cleaning up the weeds around the bushes, trimming the bushes, cutting the grass and sweeping the streets! As I have said, I have the utmost confidence in our Public Works Department. They deserve a pat on the back. I appreciate and thank them for their hard work."
Linda August 29, 2012 at 02:13 AM
If they took down the stupid basketball hoops there wouldn't be so much garbage around. I stand and wait for my daughter at Nichols school and try to pick up what I see when I can. At night they play there again and the next day trash everywhere. There is a couple garbage cans next to the court but the dirty people that play there still throw their junk on the ground. Last year they replaced the hoops. For a while they didn't have any. That was the best few months. We had a nice clean school yard! They even try to play while school is being let out even though there is a sign stating that they cannot until after 3:30. One day they threw a basketball and almost hit a baby in the face. She was in a stroller with her mother waiting for school to let out.
Big Boy August 29, 2012 at 10:51 AM
Back in the day, I can remember Brownie troops and girl scout troops taking the gardening task upon themselves as a group project to help keep the schools neat and tidy and beautiful as a troop project together. I guess these groups don't do these activities anymore.
Loren August 29, 2012 at 11:42 AM
The union also will not our baseball league (Stratford Little League) and its volunteers do ANY work to the baseball fields that are constantly in need of upkeep. From weeds in the dirt infield to benches that lack wood beam seating and back supports (take a look at Eli Whitney...the benches there have been in need of repair for over 5 years now!) to a lack of portable bathrooms to poor field drainage to...you name it. There are many people who have children in the league that are more than willing to help and volunteer their services. But their hands are tied by those who won't step up to the plate and do the necessary work themselves. Just yesterday the baseball fields at Stratford High School (King St.) were finally mowed of the over foot high grass that inundated the infield. So now we can finally practice for a season that starts in less than a week! Better late than never I guess...
Karen E Daden August 29, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Mike...by any chance are you a member of a local union?
Mike Reynolds August 29, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Karen, I wasn't disputing you. I was registering my shock that that occurs. No, I am not a member of a union nor would I ever be a member.
Linda August 29, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Even if the scouts cleaned it up, it would still be a mess in a few days. It's the people that play on the grounds when school is out that are the cause of the mess.
Karen E Daden August 30, 2012 at 01:14 PM
It is time to look to ourselves to make this town what we would like it to be. This country has a long history of volunteerism. It is now time to return to that in a big way here in Stratford. You see trash - pick it up. If its back the next day - pick it up. You, the citizen of Stratford need to take it upon yourself to take back control of the situation. By picking that trash up everyday you are doing that. Just think what this town would look like if at least half of the citizens picked up the trash. At some point we then will out number the "trashers". Take this to a higher level and attend the town meetings, VOICE your opinions and solutions. The schools looking dishevled is only a small part of the problem. Its is time to take back Stratford. It is time to get the unions to realize our pockets are empty. That the reality is the promised pensions cannot be paid. The taxpayers are at the end of giving their retirement to others. The citizens of Stratford need to stop complaining and start marching. Let's do this and do this now. Take back our Town.
Tom August 31, 2012 at 08:05 PM
How would the town possibly pay for maintaining these buildings if they already aren't? Would this mean having to cut further employees in order to afford the O/T that would be created by this? I would be willing to volunteer my services if the town requested it. I agree the schools should be maintained, but not at any more of a cost to the tax payer. Let's see of they do anything to gather volunteers.
G townsend August 31, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Presently 3-4 people trimming the entire town of Stratford (from the forest to the shore) They cannot possibly keep up along with this and their other job of emptying 82 garbage cans every other day.(forest to shore)Remember seasonal work programs ?( eliminated from budget) A dozen youths got a paycheck ever week at a fair wage and a much needed service to the town. What you are seeing is the 20% cut of services due to layoffs.Anyone wants to help stop throwing garbage on the ground,graffiti on our buildings,dog waste everywhere and get off the computer and be part of the solution
G townsend August 31, 2012 at 09:09 PM
A landscaper would be out of business if he only had 3 men trimming that amount of land.
G townsend August 31, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Cut grass at night ? You can add to the 1.8 mill we spend on atty fees
Tippys Goldfish September 01, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Town Properties were maintained when Miron was mayor! Bring Jimmy back!
fairfield newcomer September 01, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Tall grass is also where ticks are most prevalent so that's another reason to keep the grass trimmed.
Karen E Daden September 03, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Actually they weren't. Case in point the condition of the Short Beach Complex. Tennis courts overgrown, basketball courts overgrown, beach not clean, golf course not maintained...
Karen E Daden September 03, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Just maybe it is time to look into privatizing certain aspects of DPW - garbage pick-up, trimming etc. Other towns have done this and it has worked. Case in point Simsbury(which is has the same population as Stratford).
Chris September 03, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Karen Daden: Simsbury the same as Stratford? Simsbury CT?? Simsbury has 7 public schools, Stratford has 14. Simsbury does not have a paid Fire dept., Stratford does. Simsbury has 35 police officers, Stratford has over 100. The median family income in Simsbury is $124k/year, and the median price of a home is $328k. Karen, do you REALLY think that compares to Stratford? And for the record, I don't know where you got the idea the population of the 2 towns was the same. Simsbury, CT has a population of 23k, Stratford has 51K. That's really the same to you? Heck, why not just say Stratford is the same as Easton, or Westport, or Greenwich?
Chris September 03, 2012 at 07:42 PM
And to stick with the comparison, the average homeowner in Simsbury pays 30-50% more in local taxes each year then the average homeowner in Stratford. So, that goes straight back to my earlier posts; more services cost more money, and we the taxpayers are the ones to pay.
Tippys Goldfish September 03, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Karen, when Jimmy ran the Town Short andLong Beaches were very clean, the B-ball courts were great, golf course was fine. How about town trees? When Miron was Mayor, one could call PW and within days a town tee would get trimmed. Try that now.
Karen E Daden September 04, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Check you pop. figures. They have a volunteer fire department, have privatized garbage and snow removal, they have put money in the classroom not into admin and have held taxes down.. Yes, Stratford can use Simsbury as an example of how to save money and still have something to be proud of. Easton , Westport etal still have the same union wage, benefit, pension problems Stratford has. Looking out at towns that are looking forward with a vision of lower taxes and a good school system is what Stratford needs to do. ps I am originally from up there and still have family there. Simsbury has reduced what taxpayers pay for by privatizing certain services. Simsbury, administratively is an example to be looked at.
Karen E Daden September 04, 2012 at 01:26 PM
And then the budget was cut and DPW is in the mess it is in because of that. Privatization and volunteerism.....Unless you want to pay more in taxes.
Chris September 04, 2012 at 02:15 PM
I did check my figures. I did round them a bitto make it simple, but if you would like exact, fine: The newest figures anyone has is from 2011, if you say the population of Simsbury has more then doubled in less then 1 year, show me the source. Stratford=51,901 - Simsbury=23.528 http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/hisr/hcqsar/population/pdf/pop_towns2011.pdf And you admit Simsbury provides fewer town services then Stratford, yet the average homeowner in Simsbury is already paying thousands of dollars a year more in taxes then the average homeower in Stratford. So you're saying higher taxes for fewer services is something we should strive for? How can I argue with THAT logic? {shaking my head}
sach bowery September 06, 2012 at 03:13 PM
who cares
sach bowery September 06, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Miron? how bout Louie from the sweet shop?
Karen E Daden September 06, 2012 at 04:41 PM
bottom line reduce expenses, reduce taxes. but the citizens of this town need to get up and get mad enough to change the current system
G townsend September 06, 2012 at 08:24 PM
When you drive by Sikorsky aircraft thank the union workers that fight every year to keep the tax dollars here in the USA. I am sick of Union busters that want the benefit without support. If they outsource and get rid of any more workers in Stratford it will be a GHOST TOWN oh OH then you can then go and complain somewhere else.DPW was depleted down to a skeleton staff .You Cannot outsource and even get bids w 3-4 workers doing an entire town worth of labor .Maybe a couple of weeks in 90 degree heat weed wacking 8 hrs a day till your arms are numb you would fight for the people doing the job and try to get them more help in stead of criticizing .

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