It's the year of bonding, technology and guidance counselors.
At Saturday's budget hearing in Madison Middle School, Daniels Farm School parent and school PTA member Jen Kehley asked the finance board to fund smart boards.
"Schools and teachers are now looking to the PTA for help," she said.
While parents are willing to contibute money, the schools should be supplying technology, Kehley said. "[There's] great inequality across the schools."
Parent Lainie McHugh later added that by law PTAs cannot buy technology for school districts, and risk losing their IRS status if they do.
The school district's proposed technology program, "Project Catapult" is part of the a budget request also containing increases in salaries, benefits and staff. The school board will have to trim at least $1.862 million from its proposal.
Parent Cindy Katske renewed her request for guidance counselors at Trumbull High School. Fairfield has fewer students but provides more counselers for its high schools, she said.
"My daughter is better off from all this time with her guidance counselor," Katske said.
Also, students now apply to 15 to 20 colleges, and counselors must write a each student a personalized recommendation letter.
"It is a huge time and effort," she said.
McHugh then thanked the board for holding a hearing not required under the charter.
She also reminded the panel to account for technology even if it is moved out the proposed 2013-2014 education budget and to focus on the operating budget in its deliberations.
Tony D'Aquila of Valleyview Road asked the board if the proposed school budget number was deliberately misstated at $104 million in meeting posting. That total includes $9.3 million in debt service, he said.
Interested in Trumbull's news, events, community bulletins, blogs and businesses? Sign up for the free Trumbull Patch daily newsletter, "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
He also criticized the day-long budget hearings that are held each year. The schedule "effectively denies them access to the meetings."
He called it a "sign of disrespect to Trumbull taxpayers."
Bonding was also the subject of comment.
Steven Castro opened the hearing by accusing First Selectman Tim Herbst of bonding as much as democrat predecessor did.
Items like paving, trucks, plows and police cars should be in the operating budget, Castro said. Bonding makes it difficult to return them to the operating budget, he added.
The resident also called for the ability to pay taxes on the town Website.
Finally, Richard White, urged the town to:
- Follow the revised charter in all areas, including bidding rules (especially regarding accounting programs);
- Follow procedure in money transfers, involving returning money to the General Fund;
- Follow Freedom of Information rules in posting all agendas, documents and minutes online and in Town Hall.
Added White, "Rather than repeating gimmicks from last year and coming up with new gimmicks this year, I urge the Board of Finance to stop the shell game and fully fund the Board of Education request."
The Board of Finance is scheduled to vote on the budget on Wednesday. Then it goes before the Town Council.