Letter: Time for change as Shelton mayor, aldermen undercut school budget yet again

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:

A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to the editor to implore our BOE members to work in a bipartisan fashion to build a 2021-22 school system budget that was conservative, fair and sensitive to the needs of our student body during this unprecedented time. They did just that.

They worked together along with central office leadership to create a budget that was realistic and balanced supporting the needs of the school system. That budget was presented to the Board of Apportionment and Taxation and the Board of Aldermen with the hope that the school system’s needs would be addressed in a budget eventually approved by the mayor.

Sadly, in the mayor’s proposed budget, the school system was undercut more than $2 million. Even at that point, I hoped that the school system’s needs would not be ignored. Apportionment and Taxation would be able to review the BOE budget proposal and see that the BOE was asking for what was appropriate and fair to maintain the instructional needs of our school system.

Apportionment and Taxation listened and understood what was at stake and tried valiantly to propose two options that would honor the BOE’s contractual obligations while maintaining instructional integrity. Two motions were presented to the A&T, one using balances from multiple departments and transferring them to support education funding and one using surplus money to fund educational needs. Motions were presented, votes were tallied, and both proposals were rejected with no discussion even though the mayor’s reduction in taxes was honored.

Furthermore, it is sad that the Board of Aldermen never truly discussed any of the Apportionment and Taxation proposals presented by Michelle Laubin. Apportionment and Taxation members found ways to fund the education budget, eliminate “pay to participate” and honor agreed-upon contractual obligations while maintaining the tax rate suggested by the mayor.

Surely now it was time for the aldermen to do the job they were elected to do and most aldermen (except one — David Gidwani) did not.

The mayor's budget allocated approximately $700,000 to the BOE instead of the original $2 million request. This will cause the necessity to reduce teaching staff once again during a time when our students need their teachers and classrooms the most.

The school system has already done a great job with the “recovery” funds by purchasing technology and supporting environmental infrastructure. Those monies could not and should not be used to support teacher and staff salaries. The funding cut from city hall was not necessary.

Ultimately, is the average per household saving of less than $100 in tax savings a year worth it?

Beside the safety and security of citizens, the most important job every town and city has is the education of their youth. The BOE tried in a transparent and bipartisan fashion to complete the task for which they were elected — most of the Board of Alderman failed.

The alderman should know that this is their responsibility — safety, security, services and education. It is time for a change when our elected officials do not care to do their job. Our city deserves better and our kids deserve better. Think about this in November when you go to the polls and elect the Envision Shelton Team of Michele Bialek, David Gidwani, Matt McGee, Chris Jones, Michelle Laubin and Mandy Kilmartin for aldermen on Election Day.

Lorraine Rossner

Envision Shelton Chair