BOE finalized budget eliminates 19 positions

Nineteen staffers will be eliminated as part of school officials’ plans to meet the city’s 2019-20 fiscal year education budget allocation.

The Board of Education Wednesday unanimously approved the administration’s budget reductions — including cuts to staff, funding for textbooks, computers and other equipment, and the closure of the elementary schools and Perry Hill School on weekends — to meet the Board of Aldermen’s education allocation of $72,765,000.
“I am disappointed with the allocation,” said school Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet, “but we are committed to providing the parents the best possible programming and education that we can with the resources we have.”
Clouet said there will be no cuts to athletics or transportation and a school psychologist will be hired.
“It’s a budget that none of us — including every member of the Board of Education — are particularly thrilled with,” added Clouet, “but this reconciles our budget to the allocation we received, which we are required to do by law.”
The Board of Education had proposed a budget of $74,873,729, a number which included the elimination of 14.5 staffers. Mayor Mark Lauretti’s budget called for the schools to receive identical funding as this present fiscal year — $72,700,000 — and the aldermen ultimately provided only a slight increase, with the extra $65,000 going toward hiring a school psychologist.
For school administrators, that meant going back to the drawing board to find $2,108,729 in reductions to get to the city-mandated number.
The staffing cuts include an assistant principal; five full-time teachers and one part-timer from the high school; a math specialist from Perry Hill School; four elementary school teachers (one each from Elizabeth Shelton and Booth Hill schools and two from Long Hill School); a pre-K teacher from Booth Hill School; and a computer technician. Cutting these positions provided a $1,302,354 reduction.
“Since I got here in 2016, every year we have been reducing teachers, and we have been reducing administrators, as well as others,” said Clouet. “Every year the district has been shrinking. You might hear a false narrative that, no matter what, the district is growing. It is not. The challenges are growing.”
Reductions will also come from seven other positions, in which the present individuals retired and will be replaced with less-expensive newcomers. That reduced the budget number by another $152,674.
School Finance Director Rick Belden said that additional reductions would be found — thanks to the staff eliminations — in health insurance. The district will also reduce another $21,850 by closing the elementary schools and Perry Hill School on weekends. The district is also eliminating three teaching interns, for a $48,000 reduction, with another $12,622 cut by reducing the implementation of the School of Innovation at Shelton High.
Belden said that some line items — including library books, periodicals, and replacement and new equipment — were returned to 2018-19 funding levels.
The aldermen have yet stated if the city would cover costs associated with some $500,000 worth of textbooks and computers, and in response, Belden stated that a proposal will be submitted recommending a lease of materials, with spending spread over a period of time.