LETTER: Adequately funding education is a ‘no-brainer’

To the Editor:

As a 40-year resident of Shelton, I have seen the city grow into a wonderful community and I commend all Shelton officials for the role they have taken in that process.

My children went through the Shelton education system, graduated Shelton High, and continued their education to become responsible and successful business people. I, as all parents and grandparents, am hoping the future holds even greater opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

Being an avid supporter and “grandparent” voice for full-day kindergarten (FDK) in last year’s budget process, I recently got to see firsthand the reality of that new program when I attended Grandparents Day at Elizabeth Shelton School.

My granddaughter was overjoyed at showing me her classroom and sharing her work. I was elated at being there and was impressed with her progress.

Even more so, I came away in awe at what our FDK teachers are able to accomplish with the children during these full days. We, as taxpayers, and you, as city officials, did the right thing implementing FDK.

I attended the Board of Education’s (BOE) budget presentation workshop to the Board of Apportionment and Taxation (A&T) earlier this month. I was impressed with the BOE’s thorough and comprehensive budget request — of both mandated and non-mandated line items.

The BOE team did a great job collecting and presenting the facts with enough information to substantiate their request. Their budget book was not only transparent but extremely detailed.

In my opinion, Supt. Freeman Burr, Chairman Mark Holden and the entire Shelton BOE team have proven themselves to be accountable, responsible and highly transparent with regard to the use of our taxpayer dollars and I find it difficult to understand why the BOE requests continue to be met with negativity and antiquated views.

I spent many years in business as a department/branch manager being held accountable for budget money. The process was a team effort and I was asked to defend my requests, answer to dollars spent and not spent, and make compromises.

As we know, checks and balances are meant to ensure a democratic process. They are put in place for business and government entities to provide for accountability, responsibility and transparency in order for fair and balanced decisions to be made — based on facts rather than arbitrary ones based on emotion, past issues, and the wants of one or very few.

I would expect nothing less from those who are responsible and accountable for our taxpayer dollars here in Shelton.

It is my hope that our mayor, A&T and aldermen will again work together with the BOE to recommend and pass, in good conscience, a BOE budget that includes covering, at a minimum, the BOE’s rollover costs.

Every year a budget is eventually approved, and every year money comes back from almost every department unused. With our great tax rate and healthy surplus, funding education — the future of our kids and our city — is a “no brainer.”

Mary Jane Paris