B.o.E prepares for worst

Board of Ed. budget workshop Jan. 12

The Board of Education will go back to the drawing board following their second special meeting in two weeks.

Superintendent of Shelton public schools, Dr. Chris Clouet and the Board of Education’s Finance Director Dominic Barone presented three options for the 2016-2017 budget they had put together following the board’s first special meeting of the year on Jan. 6.

Three budget options presented

The three options all projected a budget increase from the current total budget of $69,450,000.

The first option presented a 4.67% increase of $3,243,822, the second a 4.30% increase of $2,986,340, and the third a 3.71% increase of $2,986,340.

Chairman of the Board of Education, Mark Holden said he is concerned that proposing a 4.67% increase or anything remotely close to the previous year’s request of 5%, which was ultimately turned down, would offend the Board of Aldermen and Mayor.

“This plan is about $147,000 less than last year’s request which was not well received,” said Holden. “Quite frankly I think if we were to adopt this plan, it would not put us in a good place in terms of the budget.”

Holden clarified that his stance came from conversations he had directly with the Mayor.

“The mayor ran his campaign around not raising taxes and I don’t see that changing,” said Holden. “While I agree with the items that are listed here, I don’t think they’re realistic.”

Board members frustrated

Fellow board members Kate Kutash and Faith Hack voiced their frustrations of having to arrive at a “realistic” budget to propose to the Board of Aldermen and mayor.

“We could submit a zero (percent) increase in the budget and they’re going to complain about something anyways,” said Kutash.

“We’re at 3.71% for essentials, so if we come with anything lower than that then we have to come up with what we’re going to cut from what we already have and I’m not prepared to do that,” said Hack. “How can we come with less? We can’t not pay our teachers.”

Arlene Liscinsky added that the board’s responsibility is to provide a budget that adequately represents the needs of the school district and to justify them, not to consider what goes in accordance with the mayor’s campaign.

“We have to do what’s best for the district,” said Liscinsky. “That’s his campaign, not ours. I remember the year we put a 1.5% increase and guess what, we got a goose egg that year! With all do respect, we went through this whole budget last year and everyone in the public says that we’ve gotta talk more, well they’re not interested in talking with us beforehand.”

Liscinsky said she is ready to accept whatever the consequences are for speaking up for the needs of the education system in the city.

“Let the chips fall where they may and my feeling is you do what you have to do to feel like you’ve done your job and then move forward. We’ll have to deal with it,” said Liscinsky.

Holden had no answer to the question posed by the board “What else can we take off?”

“That’s a good question because I don’t have an answer to it,” said Holden.

Dr. Clouet and Barone said they has yet to speak with Mayor Lauretti or any of the aldermen about a ballpark figure for the upcoming budget.

No action or decisions were made in their Jan. 12 meeting, but Clouet and Barone agreed to take all of the board’s points into consideration and draw up more options for possible cuts.

Next meetings

The next Board of Education meeting is on Jan. 27 and the Board of Aldermen's next meeting is tomorrow Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.

All of the Board of Education's meetings can be viewed on their youtube channel which is listed below. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCigj2tZqVH7G-qEnuwrVU5g/feed

According to Holden, each meeting is added to the channel 3-4 days after it occurs.