LETTER: School budget amount indicates how education is valued by a town

To the Editor:

This is written in response to Mayor Mark Lauretti’s reaction to School Supt. Freeman Burr’s recent budget criticism.

Mayor Lauretti obviously did not do too well in math when he was in school.  He claims that the Board of Education’s (BOE) budget was completely unwarranted and over-inflated due to the fact that Shelton has 1,000 fewer students in 2015 than it had in 1992.

While that is true, the cost per pupil in 1992 was $7,782 (all statistics referred to in this letter are taken from the records of the Connecticut Department of Education).

In 1992, Shelton had approximately 6,200 students in its public school system. That means the total cost in 1992 would have been approximately $47 million.
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The mayor is correct that enrollment in 2015 has decreased by 1,000 students, so we are now at approximately 5,200 students in the district.  However — and here’s the important fact — the cost per student today in Shelton is $12,940. This is a staggering increase.

The total cost therefore today is $67 million, $20 million higher than it was in 1992 even with a decrease in student population.

I also don’t agree with the mayor that it is not about money. It is about money.

How much a town or city allocates in its BOE budgets is indicative of how highly a town values having excellent schools. It is not dependent, as the mayor claims, on how much education is promoted in the home.

Our teachers today are called to wear many hats: “in loco parentis” (”in place of a parent”) is one, as well as counselor, social worker, coach, mentor, etc.

Many successful people who grew up in homes where education was not promoted often point to a teacher that was most influential in their quest to be a successful, productive human being.

As a resident of Shelton for the past 14 years, I am appalled to think that students’ families may once again have to pay-to-participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.  These are not unnecessary luxuries but essentials in a well-rounded education program.

Furthermore, laying off 10 to 16 teachers will only increase the student-to-teacher ratio, already at a 14.2 average in Shelton.

If this demeaning attitude by our mayor toward the superintendent and the BOE continues, the mayor may see taxpayers with school-age children having second thoughts of moving into Shelton, and current Shelton taxpayers with school-age children moving out.

Bryan A. Leone


Click below to Mayor Lauretti's reaction to Supt. Burr's resignation announcement: