To the Editor:
Newtown, please vote Yes for the education budget on Tuesday April 22nd! Why? Because the proposed budget takes into account declining enrollment, current and future planning, and doesn’t play a “cat and mouse” game with the bottom-line.
Unfortunately, with the declining enrollment through the Middle School, staffing has to be reduced. And this is happening per the budget document and BOE votes to date. Although hard and not necessarily a personally preferred option, it is a reality of the economy. Moving forward, the district will also be redoing the enrollment and facility studies in order to better understand cyclical changes and long-term projections to plan for facility usage and staffing needs within our existing and future educational system. Implementation timetables on these and many other strategic initiatives were placed on hold after 12/14. Once the budget is passed, however, the district can steadily begin to review these as well as the district's strategic plan and to propose new ideas to keep the district strong, competitive, and healthy.
This year’s budget amount is unprecedented with the zero percent increase. Some residents want dollars added to the budget despite the charter language while other residents and elected officials say it cannot be done at all (the “cat & mouse” game). Despite being a part of the effort to have $240,000 added back after a $1 million reduction a few years ago, this year’s unprecedented budget level and the fact that there is a lot of pressure from many other resident groups to reduce the budgets overall, getting the necessary majority or super majority vote from the Legislative Council (LC) to have dollars added is highly unlikely if not impossible. Watch the 4/2/14 LC meeting video and hear for yourself the LC members' very cautious budget support statements.
Everyone has the ability to vote on April 22nd. Please vote! And please vote Yes in support of the education budget to allow the district to reestablish its footing, to give the new superintendent a chance to lead, to keep most if not all programs in place, to allow time to redo the strategic plan, and to give our kids, our administration, our teachers and staff the ability to maintain and grow our strong educational system.
21 Horseshoe Ridge Road, Sandy Hook April 16, 2014