The following letter was addressed to the eight members of Shelton’s Board of Aldermen and a copy made available to the Shelton Herald for publication.
To the Editor:
We as parents invest a large amount of money into our children on a personal level — from dance classes to soccer camp, to 5,000 gallons of milk, to Abercrombie, to Yale. Why?
Our children are our biggest investment. They are our greatest accomplishment. We want to nurture them and help them grow with all the tools they need to succeed in life.
And when they grow up we hope that they will want to come back and raise their family right back here, in their own back yard. I am a true testament to that.
We have to envision that same perspective on a community level. It is our charge to foster the growth and enrichment of our kids and hope that they come back someday; and hopefully they will want to make it better for their kids as well.
Our children represent the future of Shelton.
Shelton spends less on education
Typically, a city’s Board of Education budget runs a little over 60%. Sadly, our city spends only 57%. This may seem like a negligible percentage but if we do the math based on the 2013 city budget of $115.6 million. 4% equals to $4,624,000.
This is not so small in my mind, and it is still only a portion of the budget surplus.
Please also take into account that out of 167 districts in the state of Connecticut, Shelton ranks 157 in per-student spending. Let me repeat myself — 157th. That is 10 from the bottom.
During a year in which we, as a community, are enjoying a substantial budget surplus, doesn’t it make sense for us to raise that percentage just a bit? Can’t we afford to bring ourselves up in the ranks at least a couple of notches?
In my basic understanding of good business practices, the purpose of a surplus is to provide for one-time expenditures and it should be invested back into future development. The reasonably compromised request from the Board of Education is exactly the type of expenditure for which the surplus is designed.
I am not talking about raising taxes, but simply re-investing a modest amount of the surplus into our educational system.
The relatively minor allowances on the agenda for this year would greatly enhance the quality of our children’s childhood experience, and long term will actually save a substantial amount of money.
When you look at it this way, it seems the “bonus” money would be well-spent.
‘Search your heart and soul’
In the coming weeks, I ask that each and every one of you search your heart and soul when you make this decision and base it on reality, necessity, frugality and the sense of gravity which comes with the honor you received when your community put their trust in you to accurately and honorably represent them.
I leave you with a final question. If you choose to not spend our money on our children, where will you spend it?
Michele B. Bialek
Michele Bialek identified herself as an alumnus of Sunnyside, Lafayette, Shelton Intermediate and Shelton High schools, as well as a mother of students attending Long Hill, Sunnyside and Perry Hill schools.
Editor’s Note: Michele Bialek ran unsuccessfully for alderman in 2013 as a Democrat.