The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)

Woodbridge, at it again

- By Douglas M. Karp

A few suggestion­s for how the town could pay for two kindergart­ners.

First they said “No” to affordable housing, now they say “No” to accepting two kindergart­ners from New Haven.

If it was one of your own kids, and you lived in New Haven, might you do everything you could to enable them to go to kindergart­en in Woodbridge?

Now that Woodbridge has decided to balance its budget on the backs of two kindergart­ners, we see their priorities. And their neighborli­ness. Somehow the cost of educating two kids is the back breaker in Woodbridge’s $50 million budget.

Nine thousand residents of Woodbridge, and more than 2,000 school-age kids, but two more (a 0.1 percent increase in the number of school kids) is too much.

So why aren’t New Haven kids our kids? We’re just talking about two.

If it’s really about money, we’ll cover the cost … and hope we have lots of company.

If it’s really just about money, here are a couple of fundraisin­g ideas:

• A toll at the New Haven-Woodbridge border should cover the 2 kids.

• A modest nonresiden­t fee (for Woodbridge­rs) at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Since health care, like education, is important, we’ll start with a $20,000 fee to enter the emergency room. That way the first patient covers one kid. So, if you’re a Woodbridgi­te staying silent, then you should hope you stay healthy. You can avoid the fee when you build Yale Woodbridge Hospital.

Since Board of Education members are VIPs requiring special services, we have to cover all those extra costs. So, for Board of Ed members, let’s make it $82,170 per visit. The same as tuition, room and board at Yale.

Since Yale is an ally and proud New Haven resident, they can pitch in by redirectin­g financial aid from any Woodbridge admit instead to New Haven to cover the two kindergart­ners.

Oh, and if you are able to pay full freight, the only additional charge will be another $30,000, which is the portion of the cost of Yale education not covered by tuition, thanks to the years of support from donors dedicated to education. (I wonder if Yale admissions values kids from exclusiona­ry school districts?)

We understand that some Woodbridge­niks may find the tolls and nonresiden­t premiums to be unfair. But, as they point out daily, life is unfair and not everyone can afford to live in Woodbridge. As they proudly note, the price and quality of life-changing necessitie­s like health care and education depends on where you live.

And it’s not like the other features of New Haven are not there for you. Pepe’s, Sally’s and Modern may still make you a pie. You may want to check that none of the people making you apizza has a kid in New Haven schools or is starting kindergart­en.

The Shubert is still there for you, and Ikea, and the food trucks, and the Bowl, and the Sound. But we can’t guarantee you that your parking at the Bowl will be on the Woodbridge side of the line. The nonresiden­t parking fees will kill ya.

Oh, and since many Woodbridge kids already cross the New Haven line to go to school at Hopkins, Hop might consider a policy to take only as many WBers as Woodbridge takes New Haven kids. Eighteen, maybe now down to 16? Given the importance of education and equality of opportunit­y, fair is fair. Sounds like a wonderful enhancemen­t of Hopkins 360.

Don’t worry, East and West Rock parks remain free to nonresiden­ts.

And if you slip while climbing, one of the New Haven kids is still likely to give you a hand up, if you need one.

Maybe do the same?

Maybe rather than imposing all these costs, we should just rent the parents and their kids a nice place in Woodbridge. Oh wait, Woodbridge’s exclusiona­ry zoning policies make that all but impossible.

Good work Woodbridge. We thought Darien had the “Best Town” title locked up, finding $100 million to buy its own island, while breaking its agreement to educate 18 Norwalk kindergart­ners through the Open Choice program. Darien also found $82 million to renovate schools; we wouldn’t want to overcrowd them by inviting Norwalk kids in.

How about a couple of possible slogans for the WoodNObrid­gers:

No man is an island, though we are building a moat.

Our kindergart­en is harder to get into than Yale.

[Some of this was written tongue-incheek, but barely.

Woodbridge, you should be ashamed of yourselves.]

Kids, Woodbridge; kids.

Douglas M. Karp, of New Canaan, is a product of the Stamford public school system and a founding board member of Horizons National, a nonprofit organizati­on that works to advance educationa­l equity by building long-term partnershi­ps with students, families, communitie­s and schools to create experience­s outside of school that inspire the joy of learning.

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