Thursday, April 02, 2009

09/10 Schools budget - The public hearing memo

Tonight there was some discussion of a memo distributed by the Superintendent. It was a somewhat controversial topic. Read it for yourself to decide its purpose:


FROM: Greg J. Florio, Superintendent of Schools
DATE: March 31, 2009
RE: 2009/2010 Budget

On Thursday, April 2, 2009 the Cheshire Town Council will hold a Public Hearing on the 2009/10 Budget. The Hearing is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers at Town Hall.

As of last evening, the Budget Committee of the Town Council was considering a number of budget scenarios that would reduce the Town Manager’s Budget recommendation. The Town Manager’s Proposal did not reduce funding for the education budget beyond the amount that was recommended by the Board of Education. The additional reductions to the education budget that are under consideration range from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $600,000.

At this point, I remind you that my initial proposal reduced the staffing level by 5 teaching positions and 10 support staff positions. The Board then reduced my request by $1.1 million and though the reductions have not yet been specified, over 75% of those reductions would come from staff related accounts. A further reduction by the Town Council will certainly require further consideration of staff reductions.

Again, the Board of Education will have the final say in how the budget is allocated for next year once it is finalized. However, at this point I estimate that as many as 20-24 teaching positions will have to be considered for reduction along with a myriad of other cuts. This would include further cuts to support staff, elimination of extra-curricular activities (or implementation of a fee), elimination and reductions to programs and services, reductions in instructional supply and textbook accounts, as well as, reductions in maintenance services for our facilities. Clearly, this is not a very favorable picture.

It is also important to note that if passed, Mr. Milone’s budget recommendation would increase the tax burden to the average Cheshire property owner (house and two cars) by $153.00 per year. The median increase would be about $115 per year.

I think we all understand that this economic crisis does not appear to be limited to this year, so it is even more imperative that we remember that our actions will certainly have long-term impact on our schools. It is important that all parties to the budget understand the need for shared sacrifice during extremely difficult economic conditions; however, as a community, it is important to stress the need for a moderate and even-handed approach to guide us through these hard times and to guard against taking measures that will take years from which to recover.

Cheshire is a well-run community. I am proud of our schools; however, spending less per pupil than 142 of the 166 school systems in the state indicates that there is not a lot of margin for error. Reductions to our budget will not be at the fringes, but at the heart of our mission – direct instructional services to children.

I will continue to work with our employee groups to discuss strategies and ideas to mitigate costs going forward. I will also continue to work with the Board of Education and the Town Council to also try and minimize the impact on educational services. I am hopeful, as we all must be, that we can come through these most difficult economic times, as a stronger community.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

Hmm, who went to the mattresses for that unaffordable contract a few months ago?

This is the inevitable result of unrealistically high labor costs.

Anonymous said...

First the Athletic Director and now the Supt. They sure now who to get people to attend the public meetings (most were from out of Town). Give me a break...

Anonymous said...

I find it disgusting that he would send that out to different town organizations and ask them to send it out to the people in their email address book.
CYB sent it out to all parents.
These groups should not get in the middle of politcs, that is not why we have our children playing in their league.
Florio should be reprimanded for his actions.
If I sent a memo out criticizing my bosses, I would not have a job too long.

Anonymous said...

The School district's management team suffers from too little real work and too much free time. Clearly the superintendent’s memo is an indication that he plays politics doing end runs around his chain of command.

The superintendent should get someone to help him develop a more straightforward writing style. The memo posted here is a babbling monolog of half truths and wishful thinking. Clearly he has too much free work time on his hands and he is not adequately challenged by the BOE.

Anonymous said...

How dare he alert parents to potential budget cuts that would affect their children's education.

Anonymous said...

Slash the BOE budget. Cheshire's school system is about perception not results. Unless you child is an elite student or a special needs student they are invisible to the staff. The schools train for performance durning CAPT testing and like testing only, as the effects funding. There is no reason to have 2 the weight at the top end of the spectrum as well. The Chief of Police has 100 times the liability of the Principals (and accordingly the numerous vice prinicipals) and his salary is far less. Cut from the top and reduce the teaching staff. Leave the athletics, band etc alone as that rounds out most of the student population.

Anonymous said...

Crying wolf because we are 142 out of 169 in school spending is employing the fear factor. It is not the dollars spent that makes a school system, it is not a turf field or other things that makes a school system. In our case what makes our school is the false belief and constant marketing by the real estate people and education that our system is so good. By what measure states the system is good. The sad part is the fools in this believe what is said and move to the town for education, then they move out. Do us a favor, don't move in because your residency here for a few short causes undone taxation and you bring no benefit to the town. One of the biggest jokes is we have a good education system. We don't. Too much time spent on sports, making students feel better about themselves. All the school system is a big baby sitting experiment because parents do not know how or are incapable of being good parents, they are too busy out working to pay taxes and to afford to live in this town. All the whiners showed up last night, it was all about them or their individual child, nobody spoke about what is good for the overall town, it is all about me, me and only me. These people should be ashamed of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Time for Matt Hall to go.

I can't believe his actions last night. After a speaker who favored lower taxes, some members of the audience clapped in agreement. Matt hall admonished them and asked that to maintain civility that the audience should refrain from such displays. After that Matt Hall allowed the many teachers and their supporters to clap as long and as loudly as the wanted.

The point is that if you make rules, then apply them to everyone and not against the people you disagree with.

Anonymous said...

Florio keeps saying that his initial budget cuts five teaching positions. SO WHAT! Our student enrollment has been steadily declining for the past few years and is projected to keep on decreasing. Recession or no recession those teaching positions should be cut. He always says he's going to have to cut X-number of positions to scare parents but when push comes to shove he doesn't cut any. As far as his memo is concerned it would have helped if he at least managed to get some teachers to speak that actually live and pay taxes in Cheshire.

Anonymous said...

"How dare he alert parents to potential budget cuts that would affect their children's education."
To use other organizations in this town to spread his message is disgusting.
What makes you think that those of us who have children in CYB/CYS want to be emailed by the commissioner of the league to support the superintendant's budget? There is a time and place for everything. This was neither the time nor the place.
I care about my kids education so much that I am asking Florio to step down and let someone else take over!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Florio has too cozy a relationship with the teacher union. It is a sign of weakness on his part that he can't get some concessions from them. They have been taking advantage of him for years. Managing in tough times separates the men from the boys. We need a guy like Wallace who isn't afraid of the teachers union.

Bill said...

A sad state of affairs when the Supt has to ask is supporters to come out and support his position. He has no backbone and is afraid of his job. Make the tough decisions Greg, layoff whatever staff you need to, make the business decisions necessary that will allow your organization to be successful. Stop the political and social out calling of the public sentiment to help you resolve you issues. Face it, it is time for the education system to come to reality, the fear factor nor longer works. You provide a service the same as a hooker, face it. the education people, as uneducated as they are and who foolishly believe your nonsense continue to support you. They are using the education system as a crutch to support their inability to parent. Focus on the 3 r's and the world be good.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Ecke waited until the end of the meeting to say that $153 is an average tax increase, but that people with lower priced houses may likely see a larger tax increase (like 200) and people with higher priced houses may actually see a decrease in their taxes. WTF? So for all those that kept saying it's "only" $153, I guess they were better re-do their speeches. And speaking of all those that spoke - the teachers that is - I believe that there was only 1 teacher that actually lived in this town. Nice, huh.

Anonymous said...

So correct me if I'm wrong, but if we give a 4.4% raise to a teacher making $50,000, that equates to approximately $12 more/day (50K x .044 divided by 180 days = $12). A teacher making $60,000 would get an add'l approximately $14/day. If they moved to this town, they'd save that much in gas going to work!! If they really believed in doing what's in the best interest of the kids and their co-workers, they'd give back the $12 and save a fellow workers job keeping more teachers in the classrooms.
Why do the taxpayers have to make all the sacrafices? As Florio says, we all have to share the burden.