OPINION: Southington BOE chairman says any further cuts will mean layoffs 

OPINION: Southington BOE chairman says any further cuts will mean layoffs 

The following statement by the Southington Board of Education was submitted by Brian Goralski, the school board chairman:

We, the Board of Education, strongly encourage the entire community to participate actively in the 2018-2019 budget approval process. We strongly feel that the future of public education in Southington should be the subject of a community discussion. We provide the following facts.

For the current fiscal year, 2017-2018, the BOE budget was not adequately funded to provide the same level of services as the previous year. As a result, we eliminated:

■8 teaching positions; ■6 paraeducator positions;■Elementary world language pilot program, a program that we wanted to expand;■Middle school sports, subsequently saved by the SMSAA; and ■All new textbooks.

After the budget was finalized, we were asked to cut an additional $1.6 million because the State reduced funding to Southington partway into the current year. Resolution is still to come.

For next year, 2018-2019, the Superintendent proposed a 3.27% budget increase which totaled $97.3 million. This budget included no new staff or services. The Board of Education reduced that budget to a 2.77% increase for a total of $96.8 million.

The cost of education is personnel driven. Some contracts were due for negotiations this year and resulted in a 0% increase for salaries in the 2018-2019 budget. Nonunion staff, including our superintendent and other central office administrators, will also have a 0% increase in their salaries for next year.

The fiscal state of Southington is strong, but the fiscal state of Connecticut is weak. The increase in Southington’s grand list at the current mil rate will not be enough to offset reduced state funding and the expected increase of BOE expenses.

Any further reductions in the BOE budget for next year will result in the reduction of staff and loss of programming.

We are proud of what Southington Public School employees and our students have achieved. This success is happening with a lean budget, one of the lowest in the state.

■Southington’s per pupil expenditures ranks at 154 out of the 166 school districts in Connecticut.■ The ratio of students to administrators in Southington is 186 students per administrator, 36 students above the state average. ■The recent enrollment study concluded that elementary enrollment is rising over the next ten years, due to home sales, both new and existing.

We believe that the strength of our schools contributes to the strength and prosperity of our town. The question now is how much value does Southington place on public education for our children and our town, and what are we willing to pay for it?

The Board of Finance will hold a public hearing on March 13th at 7pm at DePaolo Middle School. The Town Council will hold a public hearing on April 23rd at 7pm at the Municipal Center. Community members are always able to speak during the public communications portion of any board or council meeting.

Please join the conversation.


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