Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What If They Held a School Budget Meeting and No One From the Public Came?

After months of debating the Board of Education budget for the 2016-2017 school year, on Monday, February 29, the Board passed the superintendent's budget with a proposed increase of 4.74% over last years budget for a total budget of $81,828,236.

The meeting was hastily called to meet a March 1 deadline for delivering a budget to the mayor, and while it was legally posted, it was not otherwise publicized, so no members of the public attended to comment or observe.

Superintendent Pat Charles proposed an increase of 4.45% but Board member Sheila Daniels suggested that a custodian for Macdonough Elementary School, a half-time custodian for Bielfield, an Educational Technology Coach for the district, a preschool social worker and a special ed teacher for Middletown High School be added back into the proposed budget.

With those additions the Board voted unanimously to pass the budget with a 4.75% proposed increase.

There's little optimism amongst those who have had discussion with representatives for the city that a 4.75% will be seriously considered by the mayor and Common Council.  The mayor has asked for flat-line (0% increases) from all city departments, and there are indications that he will ask the same from the Board of Education.  The mayor delivers his proposed budget at the beginning of April.

In the case that the mayor calls for a 0% increase, more than $3 million in cuts will have to be considered by the Board of Ed.  Sources indicate if that is the case serious cuts will be made to arts and sports programs, academics and that actual teacher layoffs will have to be seriously considered to achieve such deep cuts.

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