LETTER: Is Shelton school budget being held to different standard?

The following letter was sent to the Board of Aldermen before the budget was finalized on May 27, and a copy made available to the Shelton Herald for publication. It has been shortened to meet the paper’s 500-word letter limit.

Dear Board of Aldermen:

I cannot claim to understand all the requests for each department for the new budget that has been proposed, so I am asking for some help and clarification regarding the requests by the Board of Education (BOE).

I have not been able to attend all the sessions you've held, so I apologize if you need to answer questions for me that have already been answered.

I will also admit that I have only been exposed to those items I have been able to read such as the BOE's budget document, Facebook comments, and articles and letters in the Shelton Herald.

I am curious to a few things regarding the budget process. I understand sometimes cuts need to be made and that all the different line items need to be scrutinized.
(Letter continues below)

My understanding is that Alderman Finn proposed cuts to multiple departments and the suggestion was met with resistance.

If the Shelton Herald accurately represented Alderman John Papa, who indicated that those cuts should not be made as they would leave little to no leeway for the given departments, and Alderman John Anglace, who indicated that not all cuts should be made as some departments may end up needing more money, I am left with a few questions:

Should those two statements be accurate, then why is it that the BOE's budget gets far less funding than requested?

What leeway are they given with a budget that is not only less than the initial request, but is also less than they likely can function under? How can their budget be reduced knowing that they, too, may need additional funds?

Again, perhaps I may be completely misunderstanding things, but it seems there are some very different approaches when it comes to the BOE's requests vs. those of the other city departments.

The money-per-child that Shelton spends on its children is far less than those of comparable towns in the state of Connecticut — a point that is all but dismissed by the boards.

Yet, our fair city hired a consultant to ensure that our mayor is paid on par with other mayors in towns of comparable size. Why is that a more important consideration than our children?

Our spending per child is so low compared to other towns in Connecticut that merely getting us to the average spending per child would be a great win and a fair start.

It seems to many constituents that our mayor should be ashamed of his lack of support for the education of our children — as demonstrated over and over each year as he continues to undercut and undermine funding for the BOE.

If you can please answer my questions above as well as indicate why the BOE budget is held to a different standard, that would certainly help me to better understand the entire process.

Chris DeMartino