Friday, February 05, 2010

BOE budget vote

I was at the Caligiuri for Congress meeting last night. I arrived at the BOE meeting as it was ending. But I understand there was a proposal to reduce the budget by $650,000... which failed 1 to 6. So no budget was adopted and another meeting is scheduled for Monday night.

Anyone able to elaborate?

Tim White


Tony Perugini said...

In a nutshell, some of the BOE members, like myself, believe that the number should be reduced further. 4 believe the number should be reduced further, 1 believes it's ok where it is and the other wants it increased. We'll see if we can iron this out on Monday night. But I did learn something new last night. I learned that the BOE doesn't want to discuss BOE business in public for fear of causing a townwide panic. I'll probably post a more detailed reply later today on what I thought happened last night and why. I'll at least post what I stated last night.

- Tony

Anonymous said...

Now is not the time for increasing town budgets. Now that grand list growth is basically at Z-E-R-O budget increases should be eliminated. Local businesses and homes are already over taxed. Further tax hikes are not warranted.

It's up to the school board and parents to figure out how to deliver an adequate k-12 education while not breaking the bank. If it means eliminating some teachers and support staff as well as eliminating courses which are fluffy as opposed to those which focus on math, sciences, English and basic history so be it.

Bill said...

By deduction it is clear that you and the other majority members minus the chairman believe the budget should be cut further. Two of you four were on the Finance committee that passed this budget out of the committee to the full board. The question is what happened and why did you two on the finance committee change your mind from last week to this week?

Secondly it was very apparent last night the majority members failed to inform the chairman of your decision not to support the budget before the meeting. The majority looks like fools except for the chairman who was blindsided by the vote.

Further, you were on the Finance committee; how can you possibly state you would like more info on where the budget cuts will come from and what areas will be affected. Did you not pay attention to your meetings?

This appears on the surface as a methodology to pound the teachers union because to this point they have not responded with a concrete proposal to help with the funding problem. It appears to be a vindictive move. I do not support the teachers salary increase by any means, but what the majority did last night to the chairman and to the creditability of the board was childish, underhanded and gutless.

Anonymous said...

I believe the finance chair was not up to the task as usual. The BOE did the right thing last night. Why pass another bogus budget like the ones they seem to pass every year? The previous boards never wanted to make the tough decisions and always left it to the TC to do their job. They protested this year and that is great.

Anonymous said...

The finance chair was against the budget that came out of the finance committee. Massey never for the budget proposal out of his own committee, the other did, that is how it got to the full board. So how do you vote for the 650k reduction last week and this week vote against it when it was your idea and now you say you want to make the reduction even larger? If you and others wanted the cut to be larger than in your own finance committee meetings that is what should have been passed out and to the board, after all you had the 2 votes anyway to get it out of the committee.

Anonymous said...

That's what happens when the Finance chairman is not from the majority party. Hello. It seems like two(FC)members could not agree on the budget to present to the full board. Another observation is that public comments made last night had no bearing on the budget. This is why many people do not speak up. Is anyone listening?

Anonymous said...

So, all is not right in the world even after the election? Hmmmm....

Anonymous said...

The fc chair has or had no say. The other members agreed on the 650k cut, that is how and why it got out of the fc. I think what happened is the majority party pounded the majority members of the BOE and they caved in. What purpose does it serve to pass a 650k cut when you really want a 1 mil cut, then vote against the 650k in public and claim you need more info on the cuts.

The lack of public input last night was based on the comments by the chair and the Supt. After their message the special interest groups that showed up to cry figured out public crying would not help.

Anonymous said...

regardless of whether folks are part of a special interest group or not, past practices of most boe and tc meetings is that what the citizens say never seems to resonate or matter. actually when you think about it, it is almost better to be a special interest group, more voices, more opinions, and a better chance, only slightly, than slimto none of anyone listening.

Tony Perugini said...


If you're going to have the audacity to accuse the majority of blind-siding the chairman, or being vindictive, or being gutless or underhanded or childish.... at least have the decency to call me and discuss why you think this is the case. My number is 203-699-9828. But your accusations are way, way off the mark and simply not true or called for.

Whether folks believe me or not there were no politics, or bullying members (that's a good one) to shame the chair last night. I consider Gerry a friend and I hold him in the highest regards. He knew where I stood.

I, like everyone else, was surprised by the 6-1 vote. I anticipated a 4-3 or 5-2 vote in favor of the budget. I don't know what happened with the other votes. I can't speak for the other members because quite frankly I don't what changed their minds. I'm sure we'll here from them next week.

I will explain my vote here later this evening when I have more time to respond in a thorough manner.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you the TC & BOE really do not want to hear the public's opinion. If they did votes on issues would not be taken right after the public meeting was held. In almost all cases the minds are made up before the meeting starts and no comment will change their vote.

The lack of a solid ability to fund the town govt & education is the issue. It has come to the point now where services will be cut for the town & boe. In our personal lives if we cannot afford something we do without. This idea of a we moved here for the education system is tired. People move here for the lack of crime, safer school environments, not for the quality of education. People confuse quality of education with an overall safe environment.

To make a fruit tree produce more fruit it has to be pruned, the same is now true for the town and boe.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that Gerry made it perfectly clear that the board needs to see some concessions from the unions. It's now up to the unions to save their fellow workers jobs.

Phil said...

"...childish, underhanded and gutless."

Look in the mirror..pot/kettle. At least one board member has the guts to come on here and explain what happened last night. Both Democrats and Republicans rejected it so if there's was majority conspiracy then both parties were involved which is silly. Sounds like more political sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is that the unions have to come to the table. If teachers are layed off they have no one to blame but themselves. Bashing the TC, BOE or even the taxpayers will not get any sympathy. The school children of Cheshire are being taught the hard lesson of greed. State workers took a vote and took concessions versus layoffs. If our younger teachers find themselves out of a job they can thank their fellow workers.

Anonymous said...

An interesting thread on ideas on this subject. It does not appear to be political sour grapes. My questions is why the finance comm passed it to the board if everybody but one was against it? Don't these people talk amongst themselves, ask for ideas, opinions.. How can you be for a cut one day and against it the next. I agree, if we lose teachers then it is the unions fault, plain and simple at this point.

timmy said...

there would no budget problem if the town taxed elim park the 650,000 in taxes they owe for their assisted living facility each year

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness we have a board that's actually questioning's long overdue. I don't understand what the problem is...the TC is gunning for a zero percent increase, period. We've all seen the numbers, the grand list, the comments by TC members in Herald.

Even with a zero percent increase the mill rate will still go up 2-3%. Why is Florio pushing back against making the difficult choices now? Take responsibility don't throw it over to the TC and make it their problem.

And I am appalled that Dr. Florio thinks the town would "panic" by discussing what-if if we were children incapable of handling the truth. Well, some of you are but fortunately that's not the norm in town.

I thought Florio's comment was disrespectful to taxpayers...we've been asking for these details...your own BOE members have been asking for the what's the problem?

Anonymous said...

One thing I never understand in these budgets every year is the random number that is chosen for "cuts". The boards job is to provide the best education possible for the childen in Cheshire. Where will $650,000 this year come from? What programs are being targeted? Is there a list of programs some where with a cost that adds up to $650,000? What are they?

Anonymous said...

So much for the hope that board heard the wisdom of Mr. Mrowka last night. I thought these "no" votes may have been caused by people seeing the light on what these decisions mean. I am dismayed to come here and see that 4 people on the board still want even more money taken out!

Many comments were made about the process last night that I found disturbing. While I was happy that Mr. Perugini wanted to see the impact of what his vote would actually mean it seems several members are opposed to this information being made public. This decision effects the people of this town. It should be transparent. All the information should be public. If there is going to be town outcry so be it because its outcry based on facts at that point. Outcry is good for this democracy. Isn't that why we have a democratic system? Isn't it our elected representatives jobs to hear their constituent's concerns??? That certain elected officials don't understand this makes me question what office they think they ran for.

Secondly, I want to echo the idea that it doesn't seem like anyone in town government really listens to the public. The board or the TC seems to just sit there completely uninvested in what the public speakers have to say. While i'm sure this is not true for some, I think some individuals need to be a bit more concious of the messages there body language suggests as they sit on panel.

Finally, it seems we are in a similar situation as we were last year with the board not understanding the meaning or intent of the town charter with regard to their budget proposal. When this issue arose last year a shady decision was forced through after the public left a meeting. I'm glad this didn't happen last night. BUT HONESTLY, would it have killed someone to get the answer to these questions prior to the meeting or even last year!

The fact that this has happened two years in a row I think is proof that the budget process is broken. Perhaps once this whole thing is settled the Town Council should consider adjusting the Charter to allow for more informed a logical decision making for next year. If something is broke here its not the town piggy bank, or the schools, its the system.

Anonymous said...

To all the Pollyannas on this thread.

There is revenue and there are expenses. Costs exceed revenue big time. Programs are delivered by personnel. If personnel has to be cut then some programs will be cut. How hard is that to understand.

If I was a teacher or a member of staff in any town service I would be fighting for my job. In the teachers case the unions position has muted that fight so far. Members cow because leadership rules.

The staffing numbers will change and some programs will be cut. This is unfortunate but it fits with the current reality whether your hours are being cut at Walmart, Home Depot, Pratt, The Hartford, or the town. Who is advocating for the taxpayer...the employee unions? Hopefully the Council majority and the BOE majority will be. Why do you think the last election turned out this way....Dave Schrumm is better looking than Sheldon Dill?

Put on your seatbelts and get used to a tighter belt. It won't be prettyy and it won't be perfect but there will be no BS.

Anonymous said...

the 650,000 comes from elim park taxes and not given to murderers.

Anonymous said...

There is a lack of trust in the whole process. Trust was lacking on the board, between the board and council, between the union and the town.

This is a process to educate the children of Cheshire. If the call is to come together, that means everyone must compromise - taxes would rise, unions would accept givebacks, some rainy day funds would be used, some staff would be cut and town boards would work together. Without this kind of civility, damage to school programs, to reputations and to property values would take a long time to heal. In order to provide children with opportunities, people need to be willing to give up something for the greater good.

I applaud the BOE pausing with their vote last night to reconsider the process. Did some in the crowd, council members, teachers, administrators, and board members, hear in the moments a way to move forward without anger and retribution, but with a sense of grace, duty, responsibility, and civility for the care of our youngsters?

And what do you get for your taxes? As Mr. Mrowka said, increased house values and well educated children.

Anonymous said...

Taxes can rise to a point where it will decrease residential/industrial values. Mr Mrowka should give this more thought.

Anonymous said...

Maybe some of us do not want our house values to rise, what does that get us? More new homes at higher prices that lead to higher taxes that lead an education system where the kids cannot provide change in a monetary transaction without a computer telling them the amount. Keeping higher property values is not a way to guarantee a better education. The time has come when there is not enough money supply to pay for the education system. Expenses must be reduced and along with it some favorite things of parents and kids. Too bad

Anonymous said...

"If the call is to come together, that means everyone must compromise - taxes would rise, unions would accept givebacks, some rainy day funds would be used, some staff would be cut and town boards would work together. Without this kind of civility,. . ."

What thinking! As grand list increases stagnate and property values continue to fall the only workable path is for taxes to remain steady or fall and for municipal labor unions - - the long term recipients of most tax payer cash - - to lose members through layoffs which are significant enough to keep the town budget from increasing.

It's time to face facts a bit more. Unless some new engine of economic growth shows up in this region of our state bringing with it many thousands of high paying jobs any thoughts of taxes going up and municipal labor unions accepting give backs is a pipe dream made in the special kingdom of CT Democrats. For over 3 decades CT has been readying itself for an economic train wreck associated with excessive taxation. The state budget can no longer be balanced even with the recently instituted state income tax on top of all the other revenues collected by our state.

It doesn't matter how much whining goes on about maintaining or increasing the quality of education through the application of unrelenting annual excessive teacher pay raises. The past couple of years of BOE babbling about the budget and the process used by the BOE as well as their trusty sidekicks in the teachers union shows just how out of touch with reality the whole process and its overseers are.

Our gutless elected BOE needs to understand some simple math. When the grand list isn't heading up like a space ship to Mars and beyond it is time to just say no to pay raises. If the BOE can't say no because of stupid binding arbitration it is quite clear that layoffs must be made to balance the budget even if the unions did not demand pay raises. If BOE members can't say no and bring on the layoffs then maybe they should find some other political activity to take up their time.

Anonymous said...

Hooray for the members who voted down the 650000 cut. Their only mistake was not informing the chairman earlier. Gerry, you have to count your votes before a major issue is put on the table. You are new to this so you can be forgiven that mistake. Just don't make it again.
The crisis is here folks....and it was set in motion in the fall of 08 when the teachers union "won" 4.4% raises for each of the next 3 the same month that the economy was melting down.
There HAVE to be layoffs....the number will be determined by the union leadership....not the BOE or the Council. Time to pay the piper folks.....and time for our Supt to decide who he works for...the union or the taxpayers. Wake up Greg.....

Anonymous said...

The finance committee voter 2 to 1 for the 650k cut. Dixon & Perigini voted for, Massey voted against. Mrowka and Massey were against the 650. When asked during the meeting by the chair if any members of the board wanted to make a comment, two; Perigini and Bavano almost had to be forced to. Sobel went on although he never made any budget meetings but watched it on tv. Only Sobel said he would not vote for the 650k cut. SO now we know there were 3 against, Sobel, Massey & Mrowka. The other never indocated their posiiton that nigh. but you had to think Perigini and Dizon would have supported the 650k cut because they voted it out of the budget committee. It would have courtesy for the other two to have informed the chairman of their position, they are all in the same party. One would think their were 4 votes of support.

When was the last time we saw any elected member of the BOE or TC not make a comment on a budget when asked. This was a warning.

The entire issue and the way it played out is a politically motivated move by the "R's" to get back at the BOE Chair for allowing Massey to remain as chair of the budget committee. Instead of embracing this as an opportunity to for non-partisianship cooperation they view it as a vindictive way to get back at somebody. Could very well be the "R's" never really embraced Gerry as a member of their party and are surprised he got elected chair when they really wanted Sobel.

It is all childish that simple. If you were not happy with the 650k cut Dixon and Perigini you should have kept the budget in committee until the majority party had gotten what they really wanted not wait until the public meeting and vote to change your mind. The rest of the members should have had the courtesy and backbone to speak their position and make it known. When the true position was known the vote could have been tabled until a later meeting when there was consensus.

Pro Teacher Anti Stupidity said...

Kudos to you for showing courage to stand for what you believe in. And no need to respond to "Bill". He thinks very highly of himself. I don't think you (or other R's) made a mistake not informing the chairman of your position. Rather, that is a failure of the chairman not to ask. That's called arrogance.

The superintendant talked about shared sacrifice. The teachers union however, has yet to make any concessions. Until they do taxpayers have had it with increases that are out of line with the rest of the world. The super tells us every year that 80% of the increases are contractual. And the biggest contract - by far - is the teachers. If the best they can do is offer to defer 2 or 3 days pay until next year, I don't call they sharing the pain.

While the teachers sail on with a 4.5% increase each year, I have had a pay cut and am earning less than I was 2 years ago. I am not complaining. On the contrary, I'm happy to have a job. But you have to realize that people are stretched thin. I would ask that that the teachers forego their 4.5% increase for one year. If they refuse, then the budget cuts are on them.

Anonymous said...

Dixon, Perugini and Massey voted unanimously (3-0, not 2-1) for the $650K reduction. I don't know what meeting you were at when that vote happened but I was there and saw the 3-0 vote. Get your facts in order and/or watch the replay on tv.

Obviously, something changed since that meeting. But you idiots that continue to believe the vote was retaliation against Gerry are morons, plain and simple.

Gerry was voted unanimously to the chair position. Massey was voted unanimously to the finance chair position. Clearly, if there was going to be a retaliation theory it would've occurred during the first night of the new BOE meeting. But I don't believe that Perugini, or Dixon of all people, would behave in this manner. I'm not sure about Pavano but Alan (as long winded as he may be) isn't a vindictive person. But I'll tell you who is at the end of this post.

I was at the meeting Thursday night and I have heard the same comments made here by two very disgruntled people in the audience (I sat behind them). These two people that are here posting all of these conspiracy, vindictive, non-partisan theories are two very disgruntled ex-BOE members with a mouth fall of political sour grapes. I overheard your conversations and these exact, same comments from your mouths Thurs night and you people are very twisted, gutless. Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

I read in the NHR today that the head of the teachers union made a concession offer which would have totaled $500,000. Reading further she states that the union offered to take furlough days with the understanding that the money would be paid back at a later date. She felt this was a "good faith offer". Excuse me! This is nothing more than an offer of a loan to the town not a concession. This union is beyond stupid if they think this was an acceptable offer. My daughter is a teacher in another school system and she has to take three furlough days this year without reimbursement.

Anonymous said...

To February 06, 2010 9:00 AM:
"Won" is not exactly the case here. It wasn't arbitration. the abitrator didn't proclaim anyone the winner. That raise was agreed to by the BOE as fair when they signed the contract. In regards to the unions offer that was rejected, the fact that the chair said he wouldn't make any promises that future boards would have to deal with at the Thursday meeting is ridiculous. Perhaps he needs to remember that contracts are in fact promises.

Anonymous said...

From today's NHR:

"Beverly Jurkiewicz, president of the teachers union, said its negotiators offered the board a nearly $500,000 concession of giving up three days worth of salary, under the condition that educators would ultimately be paid back for the lost wages at a later date."

“We felt it was a good faith offer, but they turned us down,” Jurkiewicz said. “Now it looks like they’re going to have to cut teachers and that’s going to hurt the children of Cheshire.”

Wow...she is delusional. It seems that the only person hurting the children of Cheshire is Beverly. I wonder if Beverly can actually look at herself in the mirror these days.

Anonymous said...

Five members of this board voted for the 4.4% increase over 3 years. They had a chance then to think about the future ramifications of this contract. They messed up then an now should work hard to fix their mistake. Next time think before voting.

Anonymous said...

If all 3 voted for the 650k cut then why did they change their mind a few days later. That makes this entire situation a bit more confusing. Couple that with the statement the teachers would have given up 500k granted to be paid back at a later date, why did some members state they wanted to now where the cut was coming from.

Tim White said...

Five members of this board voted for the 4.4% increase over 3 years.

Perugini & Pavano are new.

And I thought Sobol opposed the contract?

If I'm correct, that leaves Brittingham, Dixon, Massey & Mrowka in favor of current contract.

Tim White said...

As for changing a vote between committee and the full board...

If I recall correctly, that's what Olympia Snowe did in a very public way by supporting Max Baucus' Finance Committee bill, but then opposing the cloture vote.

She was clear about her intentions and I don't have a big problem with it. I believe that as a past Budget Chair, David S has forwarded budgets to the full Council because he felt that was his role as Chair... even though he ultimately voted against the budget.

For me, the key issue is ensuring everyone knows that your vote may change.

If you intend to change your vote, then I think you should explain your intention to change your vote (for whatever reason).

Tim White said...

Snowe / Baucus = healthcare

Anonymous said...

“We felt it was a good faith offer, but they turned us down,” Jurkiewicz said. “Now it looks like they’re going to have to cut teachers and that’s going to hurt the children of Cheshire.”

It's the teachers that are hurting the children of Cheshire by continually being greedy. Apparently they are not willing to give up anything except their fellow teachers' jobs.

Anonymous said...

It is definitely the teachers that are hurting the children and being "greedy". That is why the Cheshire School System is one of the MOST EFFICIENT systems in the state of Connecticut. We should punish them immediately so they will learn not to be that way! I am going to go punish my cat for catching too many mice or maybe I will just get rid of the cat altogether.

Anonymous said...

cut all athletics and band and all other exrre curricular activities from budget. Make all extras pay to play. 50 members of a football team @ 250 each = 12500 per year. Why should all taxpayers fund the extras. Band parents pay the same, plus travel expenses for band, think of it as an investment in your childs future. Right? Make electives in class have extra costs, it's for their future. Cut one vice principal from CHS (do we need 3). I pay to send my children to private school, pay for books, pay for busing, pay for athletics... While paying my taxes here because it's best for my kids. I get ZERO tax break. The town BOE is a huge disappointment and waayyyyy over rated. Let the people who want more for their kids pay for more and we will see how important soccer, marching band, and drama are to them then

Anonymous said...

Cheshire schools rank high in most part because of the parents (who take an interest). I put my children through the Cheshire school system and they have had over the years terrible teachers. There are many parents who choose to put their children in private schools vs public. If everyone moves here because of the school system why do they choose private schools.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised here. It's where I chose to stay. Cheshire schools did not and do not impress. My child, while in 4th grade, brought home a paper with several spelling errors. (these were not corrected, or marked by teacher - language arts) when asked about the oversight. Teacher reaponse " we are more concerned about content, spelling will come".... Are you serious? Cheshire schools cater to elite or special needs students. Those middle of the road are left on their own. 4:42 you are guaranteed an education, not a lacrosse, band, or swim progam. Let them pay for the extras

Anonymous said...

We need a new superintendent, one that knows how to modernize the system. Why are our schools being run by unions and for for the benefit of highly overpaid union teachers.

I'm tired of listenting to the teachers and their supporters complaining about how Cheshire is ranked 146th in the state for public spending, and how old and antiquated our school buildings are, and how they care about the poor little children.

The only way these teachers are going to get the message, is to layoff tenured. They don't care if new teachers are laid off or anything other than getting as much as they can for themselves. The main lesson they are teaching is that of greed.

Anonymous said...

The teachers union didn't make an offer of concession - it was just an offer of a loan.
We need savings not loans.

Anonymous said...

Binding arbitration as it stands is going to bring this state to it's knees just like the auto workers have done to the auto industry. The states and towns just can't keep up the payments for wages and pension benefits. The system is broken and we in Cheshire are like many other towns drowning with these contracts. If we don't change this in Hartford we will be repeating this battle budget cycle after budget cycle until we go broke like Waterbury, West Haven and many other towns around the state. Remember Waterbury was bailed out by the State. Do you think they can bail out any towns now? Maybe we can be foward thinkers and come up with solutions to our budget problems. I believe the first step would be for the teachers to come foward and understand that a 4.4% raise is wrong and give back some of this years increase. Next year it should be reviewed again. The BOE budget is almost 70% of the total budget and salaries and benefits make up 80% of that. This is a high percentage. Other costs reductions would have little impact on the bottom line. The taxpayers will again have to absorb a tax increase to help. With everyone pitching in a little we can get by this year. We must work on Hartford every chance we can. Let's go and get this done for every citizen of Cheshire!

Bill said...

Tony, waiting your additional comments.

Anonymous said...

Tired of listening to Tony P braying all the time--anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Here are a few thoughts worth repeating - - -

"...We need a new superintendent, one that knows how to modernize the system.

The teachers union didn't make an offer of concession - it was just an offer of a loan.
We need savings not loans.

Binding arbitration as it stands is going to bring this state to it's knees just like the auto workers have done to the auto industry.

I'm tired of listenting to the teachers and their supporters complaining about how Cheshire is ranked 146th in the state for public spending, and how old and antiquated our school buildings are, ..."

It's past time for our elected officials to act in support of those who elected them in the first place. It was the majority of the town tax payers, not small special interests like the town employee labor unions. Ever increasing tax revenue is a thing of the past. Now is the time to make meaningful budget cuts. Unfortunately because municipal employees take the majority of tax dollars as salary and benefits they need to be thinned out now. It's only fair after 20 or more years of relentlessly increasing salaries and benefits.

Anonymous said...

At least Tony has the courage to come on this blog and state his name and his positions. I wonder where the rest of the BOE are?

Anonymous said...

There was a idea brought forth by a citizen to go from bi-weekly pay period to a 3 week pay period ? Never heard of this being done and it would be a nightmare to administer? Monthly yes. Cheshire does not have a cash flow problem. They(the town) gets paid TWICE a year. Good thought for a private company. Bottom line is it needs to cut costs and not push the liability into the future. We do enough of that.

Tony Perugini said...

For starters, what happened Thursday night was not about getting back at Gerry and/or Peter by the majority. I fully support Gerry and Peter in their roles on the BOE. They were both voted unanimously (by Democrats & Republicans alike) to their respective roles by this BOE. Whether you believe me or not there was no attempt to get back at anyone Thursday night. It's silly. I hold both gentlemen in high regards, we get along quite well even when we disagree. Yes, at times we do disagree on issues and work it out. I'd call it a normal working relationship.

Regarding the Finance Committee's vote (3-0) in favor of a $650K reduction, we do know what makes up that reduction. It was the savings we expected to receive from union concessions. Dr. Florio and Gerry both stated same on Thursday night. The savings were based on salary freezes and furlough days as well as anticipated HSA savings. Up until the night of our finance committee vote, we had every impression that the unions would indeed support these concessions.

Regarding my vote in favor of the $650K reduction, it came with strings attached. Namely, that the unions make a firm commitment to supporting the $650K savings. Why? It's absolutely NOT about being vindictive. It's because the lion's share of the budget increase consists of 80% contracted salaries/benefits increases and we're counting on their help. I can't propose something based on good intentions at this point, I need commitment to make it work.

I made it clear to Todd, Peter, Gerry and Dr. Florio, Sandy, Stephen that I can only support this reduction if the union would do it's part and we needed to know this before we sent a budget over to the TC. Why? Because without help from the union we'd have to find another way to save $650K. It may mean eliminating 13 teaching positions assuming an average savings of $50,000 per position. If that is the case, then I'd like to know specifically where those cuts were going to be made. I'm not a fan of 'figuring it out later' which is what this budget process consists of. It simply sucks for a lack of a better word.

I spoke with Gerry last Thursday regarding where we stood with union concessions and there was still no commitment from the union. In fact, the union proposed new terms that are simply not favorable to the Town of Cheshire. I told him that this changed things for me and he understood. After all, how can I propose $650K in savings without knowing where it's going to come from? At that point, Gerry believed he still had the votes needed to move forward with the motion.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, on the BOE last Thursday night had any intention of embarrassing Gerry. I can't speak for the rest of the BOE members regarding their votes last week but I'm certain we'll hear from them Monday night. I deeply regret that Gerry was put in an awkward position. I agree with Tim, if we're going to change our votes then we should explain it and I failed to do so last Thursday night.

I have more to post on the matter. I have a lot going on this weekend, as you can imagine, but I discuss why I believe we need to make additional cuts but I will state now that it has nothing to do with being vindictive or getting back at the unions or the teachers. Stay tuned.

Tony Perugini

Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying and looking forward to more. If there has to be layoffs is fair to think the last 13 or teachers hired would be the first to go? Based on union ways that seems to be the method. If so just count the up teachers as so identified, what classes they teach and that will tell you where the pain will be. It is obvious the other categories cannot be reduced, the focus must be on salary & benefits.

Tim White said...

There are about 400 certified staff (teachers & administrators).

If everyone stays for the maximum pension (37.5 years x 2%/year = 75% pension), then you can assume you'll have 11 teachers retire this year.

400 / 37.5 = 10.7

Then you have other natural turnover, i.e. a spouse is transferred out-of-state and the teacher decides to go... or someone simply leaves to do something else.

My point?

Layoffs are entirely possible, but not a certainty. (Also keep in mind that Hartford has a history of lying about the budget, then cutting it immediately after the November election.)

In the past, I've asked for a history of teacher turnover. When I asked, it was the all-too-typical answer along the lines of:

Q: So what did you have for lunch?

A: The sky is blue.

And if you push further, you're then accused of being "uncollaborative."

I couldn't make this stuff up. It gets absurd sometimes.

Tony Perugini said...

. It is obvious the other categories cannot be reduced, the focus must be on salary & benefits.

I'm not saying that and I disagree with your statement. There are other categories that can be reduced. It's not simply about the teachers and frankly I find it difficult to believe that our very own teachers would choose risking layoffs in this economy and risk losing the ability to teach in Cheshire itself. I don't blame the teachers. I do blame the unions and to an even bigger extent... Hartford.

I have a roux going on the stove right now (Chicken & Sausage Gumbo). I'll be back later. If you want to stop by you can help yourself to some gumbo.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell us why a teacher gets paid $90,000 for a part-time job and why we should give them even more?

Anonymous said...

Here's some other salaries that are pretty unbelievable (from the 10/11 budget book).

CHS Athletic Director $100,695

Darcey Kindergarten Teacher $90,300

Highland Art Teacher $86,200

Highland Gym Teacher $90,300

And the list goes on. Granted, these may be teachers that have been here a while but come on. Imagine making $90,300 playing with elementary school kids in gym, or $86,200 drawing pictures with kids. And I wonder if the AD teaches any classes or does he just schedule games and arrange transportation ( he has a sec'y too).

Oh, but they don't want to give up anything. Boo hoo shame on you.

Anonymous said...

"...without help from the union we'd have to find another way to save $650K. It may mean eliminating 13 teaching positions assuming an average savings of $50,000 per position. ..."

Waiting and hoping for help from the union should not be part of the 'playbook' being used by the BOE or any of its members. The union shouldn't be allowed to run anything but its own internal activities.

When the town is absolutely flush with money giving out massive pay raises seems to be the norm. Now that money is really hard to come by the town needs to eliminate spending. Since unionized worker salary and benefits are the # 1, #2, and #3 most significant expenditures it seems quite clear that salaries need to head south, ASAP. The unions and their friends in the legislature have developed a system of almost automatic pay raises. Union negotiations appear to always result in pay hikes, no matter what.

It appears therefore that the only way to control spending on labor costs is simply to eliminate labor to balance a budget. It is past time to eliminate positions in order to maintain the town budget and property taxes at a more or less constant.

Waiting for the union to help (your thought) is not in their playbook. It is time for elected BOE members to start making meaningful cuts in the bloat that passes for the usual superintendent's budget.

Breachway said...

I have a problem when people call teachers part time workers...its simply not true. As afr as the meeting goes - I had to chuckle when one of the ex BOE members stood up and talked about how there was no AP Calculus offered because of his vote last yr....and how he would vote for the supers budget - hello!!! you were voted out of office, the people don't care what you think....I am surprised no one stands up and says " why do we need to fund all the AP classes so kids don't have to take the classes in college"?

Anonymous said...

"I have a problem when people call teachers part time workers"

It's true. The school year is 180 days and the school day is 6 hrs. Subtract sick days and conference days from that. Most people work 220 days a year and they work 8 hrs a day. That's a minimum of 40 fewer work days.

And, don't tell me they spend so much time grading papers and preparing for the next day's classes. Maybe the first couple of years there is class preparation, but after that is simply repetition.

Anonymous said...

BOE actions tonight reducing the proposed budget 950,000 is an embarassment to this town and a lack of respect for the generations of faculty and students that helped build this school system. These actions by the board are blatantly irresponsible and threaten the sound foundation of our district beyond repair.

Furthermore its increasingly apparant that the members don't listen to anything but their own self interest when voting. Public opinion clearly had no effect on a board who seemed to have thier mind made up before anyone spoke.

This town's charter needs to be redrafted and this process needs to be changed. This process is backwards and inappropriate to a modern financial and educational sensibility. Power to do harm needs to be removed from the hands of 6 individuals on the BOE who have no educational experience and the same goes for the TC.

Also, does Ms. Pavano have a voice? She wasn't put up there to warm a chair. It might be nice to know why she votes the way she does.

I am embarassed tonight for this town. I hope the town council sees the need to value our schools and restores money despite the BOE's frightening inability to do the same. I must applaud Mr. Mrowka and Massey for standing up and trying to show their colleagues why they were wrong even if he others weren't interested.

Anonymous said...

SO what happened, what new info showed up from last Thursday to tonight that provided additional input on where the cuts would affect the system. If I remember right they voted against the 650k because they did not have enough info to know what would be affected. So tonight they pass a 950k reduction based on what information?

Anonymous said...

"Power to do harm needs to be removed from the hands of 6 individuals on the BOE who have no educational experience and the same goes for the TC. "

The power to do harm was instituted a few decades ago when unionized municipal employees got special treatment and were allowed to enter into a form of robbery known as binding arbitration. No normal citizen who pays taxes and has to actually work for the money supports this most evil invention. Our state's very liberal politicians banded together to financially destroy this state in the name of a better life for those living off of our tax dollars. If you like complaining about problems with Social Security then you really need to start complaining about municipal labor union contracting processes because they will bankrupt us all way before Social Security goes broke.

There seems to be but one tool remaining to control town budgets since unionized labor costs have gone to ridiculous levels. Time to cut the work force and time to do less with less. The alternative is too scary to contemplate. You know, the status quo which could be phrased as doing less work with more $$s.