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Useless bickering doesn’t help Winsted school system

Republican members of the Winchester Board of Selectmen have become basically useless when it comes to developing a consensus on the town’s 2012-13 budget, and are actually making life more miserable for everyone in town by working to complicate and protract the budget process.

Arguing over various issues for several hours Monday night, selectmen eventually came to the conclusion that they were not ready to make cuts to the proposed 2012-13 budget, which has been defeated twice at referendum. The two minority Republicans, Glenn Albanesius and Ken Fracasso, have continued to call for the closure of a school, ignoring the fact that this would not save town a penny.

The minimum budget requirement (MBR) for the school system is set at $19.95 million. The state has informed town leaders that this figure will not change, even if Winsted decides to close a school. So all of the barking Selectmen Albanesius and Fracasso have been doing recently has been a political stunt, designed to keep the town off balance and injure the Democratic supermajority.

The Republicans have been making arguments about school funding for the past two years, and even took their case to state officials — to no avail. GOP leaders have consistently failed in their attempts to bring legal action against the school system, and their allegations of misconduct by school officials have been rejected. Fracasso, who led the efforts to skewer his neighbors, has refused to acknowledge his repeated failures or apologize for his unsubstantiated finger-pointing.

Last year, while the GOP argued that the Board of Education was improperly spending money, it turned out to be the Board of Selectmen which had done the town wrong by underfunding the schools by more than $1.3 million. State officials ruled that the Winchester school system had properly accounted for its money and that the town must stick to its $19.95 million MBR.

This year, Albanesius and Fracasso have continued to assert that they know better than the elected school board what needs to happen to Winsted’s public school buildings. In reality, however, the local GOP’s record speaks for itself. Voters should be listening to what school officials are saying about the school system and what needs to be done to correct internal problems. After all, it is the school board members who were elected to oversee the school system and recommend adequate funding for the town’s children — not Fracasso and Albanesius.

The Republicans’ crocodile tears over the over-funding of education are pathetic, and their hard-line stance on the budget amounts to a cheap political stunt. Townspeople must see through this charade and demand more reasonable behavior from their elected officials.