With massive cuts looming under Malloy’s order, Southington superintendent tells lawmakers to ‘stop blaming’ and pass budget

With massive cuts looming under Malloy’s order, Southington superintendent tells lawmakers to ‘stop blaming’ and pass budget


School officials in Southington had already shaved $1 million off the Board of Education budget and eliminated 14 positions when the town passed its 2017-18 budget in June.

That was before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s revised executive order promised to slash the town’s Education Cost Sharing grant if it remains in place through June, the end of the current fiscal year. The state provided $20.3 million to the school district last fiscal year. In total, the town is only slated to receive just over $15,000 in municipal aid under the order.

Malloy’s revised budget order, released Friday, made it clear to lawmakers who have yet to vote on a state budget that, if one isn’t passed by October, 85 school districts would lose education funding and another 54 would see sizable reductions. Grants to the 30 lowest-performing school systems, including Meriden, would remain unchanged.

On Monday, Southington School Superintendent Timothy Connellan called Malloy’s plan “Robin Hood budgeting.”

“This is all because the General Assembly and the governor’s office has mismanaged funds,” Connellan said. “We haven’t mismanaged ours. Stop the partisan politics, get in a room and get this done. This isn’t new. How far back does it have to go? Everyone has to stop blaming the other.”

Connellan said with 80 percent of the school budget accounting for salaries and benefits, any more reductions would come through teacher and staff layoffs.

“I doubt the people in this community want to see 30 students in a classroom,” Connellan said.

Wallingford is slated to receive $2.1 million in education funding under Malloy’s order, $19.2 million less than last year. In an email to parents Friday afternoon, School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo wrote that the school district has an approved budget in place for 2017-18 that covers most services regardless of the revised executive order.

“I am writing to let you know that at this time there are no changes for the new school year,” Menzo wrote. “Last spring, the Town Council approved our budget, and we are moving forward based on that allocation. If the governor’s executive order does become a reality, we would have to see how the town moves forward and work collaboratively.”

Menzo expressed hope that his message would reduce unnecessary anxiety for parents and students.

“We are ready for a great year and are committed to work hard to ensure we maintain all of the resources for our students,” he wrote.

On Monday, he urged calm and patience. Menzo said Malloy’s proposal was a call to motivate legislators to have conversations. But even if lawmakers do approve a budget before Oct. 1, Menzo anticipates cuts.

“There will be compromise to what extent his executive order will be adjusted,” he said. “I have a budget approved by the mayor. If something were to change then we’ll do it. It’s premature for us to do anything now, but we all have to realize there are going to be some changes.”

Menzo acknowledged school officials in some towns are already making difficult decisions, such as cutting staff, to prepare for cuts under the order. He said his district is better positioned for some cuts, but couldn’t absorb the $19.2 million cut under Malloy’s executive order.

“If the governor’s budget is reality, I would not expect anything other than our town officials coming to us and saying ‘we need to look at things,’” he said.

Faced with cuts in state education aid, school districts will be able to trim their spending beyond what they historically have been allowed to, members of Malloy’s administration recently told the Connecticut Mirror.

State law requires districts to spend at least as much year-to-year on education. With no state budget in place, Malloy’s administration will not be holding towns to minimum spending requirements, according to the Connecticut Mirror.

“It’s just a matter of waiting,” Menzo said. “We will continue to work with the town.”

mgodin@record-journal.com 203-317-2255 Twitter: @Cconnbiz

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