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12 Things to Know About Tuesday's Referendum

The referendum is on whether $800,000 cut from the Board of Education's proposed 2011-12 budget by the Representative Town Meeting should be restored

Tuesday's the day for voting in the townwide referendum on whether $800,000 cut from the proposed Board of Education budget for 2011-12 by the Representative Town Meeting should be restored. Here are 12 things to keep in mind:

1) A "Yes" vote means the voter is in favor of restoring the $800,000. A "No" vote means the voter is opposed.

2) Voting hours are from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at regular polling places, except for voters in District 2, who will vote in Burr Elementary School. For a list of polling places, see the bottom of this article.

3) Residents should be able to catch returns of the referendum as they become available from the comfort of their homes. The Registrar of Voters' Office plans to post results in each of the town's 10 voting districts, as they become available, on the town's website. To access the page, go to www.fairfieldct.org and click on "voter info" toward the bottom left side of the page. That should take you to a chart that shows results of the referendum.

4) For the referendum to succeed, 8,640 voters will have to vote "Yes" (in favor of restoring the $800,000) and those "Yes" votes also will have to be a majority of votes cast.

There are 34,557 voters in Fairfield, and the 25-percent requirement for a referendum to succeed pertains to "Yes" votes in favor of overturning the RTM's decision - not overall turnout.

If 8,600 voters vote "Yes" in Tuesday's referendum, 1,000 voters vote "No" and overall turnout is 27.8 percent, the referendum will fail because 25 percent of voters (or 8,640 voters) did not vote "Yes."

5) There's no "strategy" to voting in a referendum. Since the 25-percent requirement pertains only to "Yes" votes in favor of overturning the RTM's decision, voters who support the RTM's decision won't have any effect on the 25-percent requirement. Voters who support the RTM's decision are only important in determining which side has a majority - but the question of which side has a majority is irrelevant unless "Yes" votes reach 8,640.

6) The Board of Education's budget for 2011-12, as approved by the RTM, is $145.68 million, a 2.9 percent increase over the current budget of $141.6 million. If the referendum succeeds, the Board of Education's budget will be increased to $146.48 million, a 3.5 percent increase over the current budget.

7) The last successful referendum was in 1995, when voters overturned the RTM's approval of $24.6 million to renovate the former Roger Ludlowe High School into space for educational and recreational uses.

In that referendum, 8,377 voters voted to overturn the RTM's decision; 4,170 voters voted in favor of the RTM's decision; and overall turnout was 37.9 percent. The number of votes needed to overturn the RTM's decision in that referendum was 8,276.

8) According to the Fairfield Registrar of Voters' Office, 16 referendums have been held since 1960. Of those, only five (or less than 33 percent) succeeded. Before 1995, the last successful referendum was in 1972.

9) Two referendums that failed since 1960 actually wound up "winning" in the end because the RTM reversed its decision after the unsuccessful referendum.

In 1975, the RTM rescinded its approval of $3 million to build a Community and Recreation Center in Tunxis Hill Park after a referendum because 8,040 voters were against the project (just 25 votes short of the required 8,065 votes for the referendum to succeed.) In 1983, the RTM rescinded its approval of $770,000 in preliminary work for a complex of senior citizen housing and adult daycare at the former Grasmere School because the vote in that referendum was 5,782 against the idea and only 740 in favor. The number of "No" votes needed for that referendum to succeed was 8,039 - well short of the 5,782 actually recorded.

10) The outcome in Tuesday's referendum is final because, unlike in 1975 and 1983, the RTM isn't allowed to rescind its vote after the referendum. Town attorneys said the votes to rescind in 1975 and 1983 were on bonding resolutions, while the RTM's vote last month was on the budget - not a bonding resolution.

11) The most recent referendum was held in August on the RTM's decision to approve $350,000 to build a girls' Little League field and infrastructure for a park on Hoyden's Lane. That referendum failed, with 2,404 voters opposed to the RTM's decision and 1,168 voters in favor. For that referendum to succeed, 8,848 voters would have had to vote against the RTM's decision and those votes also would have had to be a majority of votes cast.

12) The highest voter turnout in any referendum since 1975 was in 1997, when voters upheld the RTM's decision to approve $17.1 million to convert the former Roger Ludlowe High School building into a middle school. Turnout in that referendum was 41.3 percent, with 7,630 votes in favor of the RTM's decision and 6,794 votes opposed.

The middle school moved a few years later into a new building on the Ludlowe campus so the Board of Education could reopen a high school in the former Roger Ludlowe High School building.

Here are the polling locations for Tuesday's referendum, which will be done by hand ballot. Residents unsure of which voting district they live in can call the Registar of Voters' Office at 203-256-3115 or the Town Clerk's Office at 203-256-3090.

District 1 - Fairfield Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace

District 2 -Burr Elementary School, 1960 Burr St.

District 3 - Dwight School, 1600 Redding Road

District 4 - Osborn Hill School, 760 Stillson Road

District 5 - McKinley School, 60 Thompson St.

District 6 - Fairfield Warde High School, 755 Melville Ave.

District 7 - North Stratfield School, 190 Putting Green Road

District 8 - Holland Hill School, 200 Meadowcroft Road

District 9 - Fairfield Ludlowe High School, 785 Unquowa Road

District 10 - Roger Sherman School, 250 Fern St.

Doug June 14, 2011 at 11:26 PM
The writer above doesn't get it. The BOE has contractual committments, union committments and fixed costs that are going up. To take $2.80m out of a proposed budget is irresponsible. Worst, World Language, more importantly Spanish, which is rapidly growing, is going away under the proposal. I would support cuts, but not of this magnitude. Vote YES!!!!
Shakespeare's Sister June 15, 2011 at 01:42 PM
This is a myth. The educational system in the town of Fairfield is falling behind. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Dept of Education, and Connecticut State Department of Education, the town of Fairfield doesn't even rank in the top 30 districts in the state. Currently, Trumbull is rannked higher than Fairfield. You can't gain by taking away. Fairfield's students will pay for yesterday's failed referendum for years to come.
maryHelen Melnick June 15, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Many thanks to kate and bob of WTP who did a wonderful job. this has now gotten the town to really take a good look at how money can be saved and still give children a good education. most of my years in school I went to catholic school and well we had a good education. We had 38 in each call and two classes of each grade.We did not have gym or snack time like our public school peers. We did school work until we had recess time.then if it was too cold to go out in the winter we did math games and games of skill inside.We neve felt deprived of anything. what we did learn was how to do hard work and how to stick to a project until it was finished.We learned that finishing a project was the reward .Maybe it is time to bring back this type of values to the public school.
R. Ludlowe June 16, 2011 at 08:29 PM
MaryHelen, what exactly is your exposure to today's school system? How do you know what today's values are? Do you have any actual experience to Fairfield School System? It seems there is a huge amount of rhetoric in your posts. Frankly, your communications do not speak to a system that prepared you very well for the modern world. I'm not sure that your 38-student classroom is something that we should strive for, and I find it insulting (and I'm not a teacher) that you insinuate that today's classrooms are not focused on such things as "finishing projects."
maryHelen Melnick June 28, 2011 at 01:38 PM
R. ludlowe: I know very well about todays school system. I also know that in the catholic school system compaired to the public school system it would take the public school system one week to do all the work the catholic system does in one day. Thats a fact. I find your constant nit picking on any subject your can find here on the fairfield patch where you can nit pick away at people very insulting in fact. Its very clear that you have alot of free time that can be put to better use.when ones freedom of speach becomes verbal abuse then maybe you should should look to other ways of using your free time!

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