Letter: Shelton aldermen's budget fails to fund education

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

The mayor dropped the mill rate this year, a typical election year gimmick for him, so that he can claim that he is the Godfather of Low Taxes in Shelton. Great. So, you’ll all save about $96 on your tax bill this year, but the teacher’s contract will not be funded so we will probably see more staff cuts for the fourth year in a row.

Remember that when the teachers’ salary contract was being negotiated, John Anglace, president of the Board of Aldermen, was participating in the negotiations. He approved the contract, and called the mayor to make sure that the mayor approved the contract as well, which he did. And yet, when the superintendent and the chair of the Board of Education came before the Board of Aldermen and the Board of Apportionment and Taxation and explained that they needed a minimum allocation of $1.179 million to cover the costs of that contract this year, the mayor declined to fund the contract, and the Board of Aldermen followed suit.

They ultimately added only about $700,000 to the education budget this year, which will likely have the effect of forcing further reductions in teaching staff in the Shelton Public Schools. There have been a total of about 50 full time equivalent staff reductions at the BOE over the last three years. There will probably be more staff cuts this year as a result of this budget. It may come in the form of retirees who are not replaced, but that will still result in a reduction in course offerings and an increase in class size for the upcoming year, because the BOE will not be able to afford to replace those retirees.

Parents of children attending school in Shelton should also know that the budget passed this week by the Board of Aldermen contains a hidden tax on your children. You might save an average of $96 on your tax bill, but if you have children in the Shelton school system who want to play sports or participate in extracurricular activities, you’ll pay about $225 per child for the privilege of having your child in football, cheerleading or marching band or any other activity. So, instead of spreading the cost of paying for extracurricular activities for kids over the entire tax base of the City of Shelton, we are now imposing that cost specifically on those families who have kids who want to do something in school besides the basis academic program offered by the school system. I’m guessing that many of you, if you don’t currently have kids in school, you may have grandchildren in the school system, and you’ll be helping your grandchildren pay those fees so that they can play sports or compete on the state champion robotics team. You’ll save money on your taxes and then pay that tax in the form of activity fees. This is a shell game, pure and simple, and your children and grandchildren are underneath the shells.

There were options on the table that could have prevented this from happening. We could have left the mill rate exactly where it was and had more than enough revenue to fund education, including eliminating the pay-to-participate policy. Or we could have kept the mayor’s proposed mill rate decrease and still funded the education budget by applying other savings to education. Neither of those solutions was acceptable to the mayor or the Board of Aldermen. This budget is short-sighted and cheats our children out of the education that they deserve, all in order to give the Mayor the cheap election year ploy of being able to say that he reduced the mill rate. Enough is enough. We need a change in leadership in Shelton. We need David Eldridge for mayor, and we need a new Board of Aldermen. Vote for the Envision Shelton Candidates who are putting aside party politics to put Shelton first: Ward 1 — David Gidwani (the only incumbent on the BOA who voted no), Ward 2 — Michele Bialek, Ward 3 — Matt McGee and Chris Jones, Ward 4 — Mandy Kilmartin and Michelle Laubin.

Michelle Laubin, Member Board of Apportionment & Taxation, and Candidate for Board of Aldermen Ward 4

Matt McGee, Candidate for Board of Aldermen Ward 3

Chris Jones, Candidate for Board of Aldermen Ward 3