After Spending $23,771.50 to Challenge FOI Request, Region 4 Drops Appeal, Institutes Reforms

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ESSEX – CHESTER – DEEP RIVER — On Thursday, the Region 4 Board of Education voted to drop an appeal of a two-year-old freedom of information (FOI) request by an Essex resident. The litigation had cost the district $23,771.50. The request was originally made of the Region 4 board of education and superintendent on September 12, 2017 by James Carey. According to the Freedom Of Information Commission which was handling the appeal, Carey requested “all external and internal communications regarding the district’s plans to, and subsequent engagement of, SPIRAL International to provide foreign student services to the District, including, but

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As Details of Land Deal Come to Light, Region 4 Schools Look to Move Forward

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ESSEX – CHESTER – DEEP RIVER — In August 2017, Regional School District 4 purchased the 13-acre Mislick property without an independent appraisal. The district relied instead on a seven-month-old appraisal completed for the seller, Essex Savings Bank. That appraisal was labeled “for Estate Planning Purposes and, the only intended users are Rogin Nassau LLC and Essex Savings Bank and/or designated affiliates.”  The appraised value was for the full 38-acre property, including the buildings, of which only 13 undeveloped acres were purchased by the school district. And because the purchase was a cash transaction with funds thought to be set

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Letter: Focus on Region 4 Superintendent “misplaced and distracting.”

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To the Editor: Singling out newly-hired Superintendent Brian White as the focal point for your editorial about Region 4’s finances is misplaced and distracting. (“Hard look at Region 4” September 29. 2019.)   Mr. White became superintendent of Region 4 Schools in July 2019 (only three months ago) when Dr. Ruth Levy retired after 11 years in office with two years remaining under her current contract. By the time of his arrival, the district had also changed facilities directors, business managers and many board members from those involved in the Mislick property purchase and decisions about capital accounting. So it

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Editorial: A Hard look at Region 4 — Essex, Chester and Deep River

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Perhaps you don’t live in Essex, Chester, or Deep River and have decided to skip over Julia Werth’s remarkably damning news story detailing years of failure to follow state law and to exercise adequate financial oversight, both by the superintendent and the school board. Well don’t. If ever there was a learning moment… it would be a forensic analysis of how the Region 4 school district managed to spend more than $379,000 on a piece of property, without a public vote as required by law and without having money set aside to pay for it. We’ll have more on that

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Region 4 Board of Education Flouts Law, Runs $379K Debt in Error

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In August of 2017, the Region 4 Board of Education, representing the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, spent $379,916 to purchase the Mislick Property adjacent to Valley Regional High School. The idea was that someday in the future the land could be used for additional sports fields. In a July 5 email, then-Superintendent Ruth Levy announced that the district’s offer was accepted and the purchase would likely be finalized within the month. “We are very appreciative of the entire negotiation process and your support in this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity,” she wrote in the email to the

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Editorial: Sexual Misconduct, and Taking Responsibility for our Schools

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Young people are the pivot around which everything turns. In southeast Connecticut, education budgets dwarf the size of most other town expenses. Old Lyme will spend about $27.5 million of the $38.9 million FY 2019/20 budget on education. Hand me a hot button issue – whether it’s 8-30g affordable housing or the balance of revenues between property taxes and income taxes – and I’ll show you most likely that a good bit of it comes down to how and where we raise our children. Quality schools are a major driver of property values, which attract the young, but also provide

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Budget Language Adds Flexibility For School Savings

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IN THE REGION — Between 2007 and 2017, the total public primary and secondary school enrollment in Connecticut dropped by 46,110 students, a decline of 8 percent. Essex, Deep River and Old Saybrook all have seen much greater losses with 32, 16 and 12 percent respectively. None of these declines were previously considered drastic enough to merit an exemption from the state Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) – a law that prohibits most school districts in Connecticut from spending less on education than in the previous fiscal year. Language included in the recently passed state budget may change this. For the

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