Highlighting the difficult spot Trumbull is facing now, nearly half of 72 patch users said a 3.47 percent increase in the school board is not enough.
Thirty-four users, or 47 percent, called the increase too small. Twenty-three percent said it was just right, while 29 percent said it was too much.
The 3.47 percent increase covers core items and restorations, but adding all-day kindergarten funding, $873,000, would have pushed the increase to 5.04 percent.
School board Chairman Stephen Wright has said "we owe it" to students to try and fund all-day kindergarten and he vowed to try.
But on Wednesday, Tom Tesoro, a democrat and Board of Finance member who moved to add $873,000 to the education budget Tuesday night, said, "In spite of Mr. Wright's optimism, in my opinion, without creative solutions (i.e. gimmicks or one time solutions) there can be no FDK without further erosion of the current k through 12 program."
He said he would admit he was wrong if proven so.
Tesoro's motion failed 3-3, with himself, democrat Steve Lupien and Republican Andy Palo supporting him. The three other republicans on the board voted against it.
Politics aside, the program has critics on all sides. They are parents whose children are in overcrowded classes or extra study halls (for lack of a class) and taxpayers whose children attended half-day kindergarten or who just don't want an increase in taxes.
One Patch commentator named TrumbullSr said:
"The Board of Finance seems to think that the BOE can spin gold out of flax. ADK should stand in line behind restoring all the cuts made last year. While it would be great for the kids just starting school, it is vital to prepare those in school to meet the challenges of college and the work place. It isn't fair to those who did not benefit from ADK to sacrifice again. Fund it of postpone it until we can afford it."
Added user Paul G. Littlefield, "There are schools across the country which are abandoning FDK and Pre-K classes because of the added expense without an educational component."
"This is just not the time for the BOE to introduce new nonessential innovations while previous cuts in educational curricula and services continue. It is detrimental to the older student to be denied educational advantages, which they will not recover, while the 5 and 6 year olds have 12 years ahead of them in their educational pursuits," he said.
But its proponents say it's time for all-day kindergarten so young children get a good start in an academic world that has become stricter. Kindergarteners are expected to know more as they head into first grade and an all-day program will allow teachers more instruction and review time with students.
Not so, reply critics, some of whom dismiss it as "subsidized babysitting."
And some proponents have said they would consider moving if the town doesn't implement all-day kindergarten. They said they moved to Trumbull in part because of its schools.
So far, part of the funding could come from a district surplus, a move being called a gimmick because it could create a funding cliff.
Add to the mix Trumbull High School is facing re-accreditation in 2013. And for all accusations of the high price of education, Trumbull has been described as spending less per pupil than its peers with better results.
The Town Council Finance Committee will meet before April to dissect the budget and then the full council will vote. It cannot increase the budget beyond the first selectman's recommendation.