|Middletown High School|
“We are at a crucial moment with school funding in Middletown,” McKeon said. “I want to provide parents, residents, students and teachers with information they’ll need to advocate for this year’s budget.”
The Board of Education approved the budget requested by Superintendent Pat Charles in January. That budget requested an increase of 5.92%, ($4,509, 832.) That increase is based on contractual obligations, inflation and additional costs due to state mandates and increased tuitions.
“The city has cut the requested Board of Education budget for the past seven years,” McKeon explained. “That’s understandable in some ways, due to the difficult economic times, but it has created deep cuts in teaching staff, programs and support services. At some point, we need to return to adequate funding, or suffer the consequences. That point is now.”
If the requested budget is cut by the city this year, the school district could see up to nine full-time teaching positions cut, and experience deep cuts in arts and science education programs. On the chopping block is the popular All-City Music Festival, held each April.
“Last September, several parents complained when because of budget constraints we saw crowding in elementary classrooms,” McKeon said. “We were able to address their concerns partially, but by September it’s too late to lobby for additional funds. I want parents to know that concern about crowded classrooms has to be expressed now, when the budget is being considered by the mayor, and the Common Council. The budget is voted on in May, but the effects won’t be felt until the new school year begins.”
The information meeting is not an official Board of Education function. McKeon is acting as an individual board member, resident and parent of school-age students. He’s enlisted the aid of several other parents to organize the meeting.
“It will be short and to the point,” McKeon said. “We’ll provide background on the budget and what’s at stake, and give parents some simple ways that they can support the budget request.”