Southington Board of Education makes cuts that include middle school sports

Southington Board of Education makes cuts that include middle school sports


SOUTHINGTON — The Board of Education approved budget adjustments Thursday for the upcoming fiscal year that eliminate funding for middle school sports, leave 14 teaching positions unfilled and reduce spending on supplies and services.

Board members, who approved the plans recommended by school leaders, also voted to form an ad-hoc committee to study alternate ways to fund middle school sports, including fundraising, sponsorships and pay-for-play.

Board members Zaya Oshana Jr. and David Derynoski, both Democrats, voted against the budget plan with the rest of the board voting in support.

Parents urged the Board of Education to keep middle school sports Thursday and have been advocating for the program since earlier this year when School Superintendent Tim Connellan recommended the cut to save money. Eliminating the program saves the district more than $120,000.

While the Town Council adopted a budget that increases school spending for the upcoming fiscal year, school leaders said it’s not enough to maintain all the current services, particularly with cost overruns this year in special education tuition. Earlier this week, the council approved an $87,309,939 budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Sherri DiNello, the district’s business and finance director, said school leaders have to fill a gap of more than $1 million. She and Connellan outlined the plan to do that, which included savings in salaries, purchased services and supplies.

Also eliminated was a foreign language pilot program at South End School, with the teachers’ hours moved from that program to Southington High School.

Connellan said the move didn’t mean school leaders didn’t recognize the benefit of early language education or have changed long-term goals to have language classes in all early grades.

“It has to be fair, it has to be equitable, it has to be in all eight elementary schools,” he said. “When we can get to that, I don’t know.”

Connellan defended the cuts, but said he didn’t like to see any reductions in schools.

“There is not one thing on this list that any of us is happy about,” he said.

Connellan also spoke about how programs were evaluated with an eye toward savings.

“Our major mission is what we do in the classroom,” he said. “Everything else is wonderful, but our primary mission is what happens in the classrooms.”

Other board members agreed that the schools couldn’t afford middle school sports, considering the magnitude of the budget gap.

School board Chairman Brian Goralski asked board members Oshana and Patricia Queen to serve on the ad-hoc committee. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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