WALLINGFORD — School administrators will hold a forum on Thursday to let community members ask questions and give feedback on the school budget.
The forum will be held at HUBCAP Wallingford, 128 Center St., at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Members of the public can give suggestions about the 2018-19 school budget and ask administrators questions about the district’s budgetary process at the forum, Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said.
“Our main focus is to discuss what’s on people’s minds,” Menzo said. “We try to get as many voices as possible, that’s the key.”
Former Wallingford town councilor and Record-Journal columnist Steve Knight will moderate the forum.
The school district has held similar forums around November or December in past years, Menzo said. He wanted someone to moderate the forum for the first time this year to make the forum feel “less like a presentation and more like a discussion.”
Knight said his goal is “to make it a very informal discussion so that people feel empowered to actually speak their mind and make suggestions.”
“Hopefully a lot of people that are interested in their child's education and how it can be improved will be there to have their ideas heard,” Knight added.
The school district had a budget of about $100.5 million for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which makes up the majority of the town’s $162 million budget this fiscal year.
Menzo and other administrators began preparing the 2018-19 school budget during the second week of October this year, two weeks earlier than usual because of concerns they had about a possible reduction in state funding. The state legislature has since passed a state budget in which Wallingford was cut about $1.2 million in municipal aid. While that cut was less than Wallingford anticipated, Menzo said “we still want to be as prudent as possible when budgeting.”
Unlike most school districts, Wallingford presents its overall education spending in two budgets. The sustained services budget represents what the district needs to spend to maintain current services. The strategic plan budget includes items aimed at the school board's long-term strategic plan.
Menzo said he will use feedback from the forum when preparing his initial 2018-19 budget proposal, which he will present at a school board meeting in January. The school board will then provide feedback to Menzo about his proposal in subsequent meetings before the board votes to send a budget request to the mayor.