How much does the Board of Education need to trim from its proposal?
Should money be spent on additional security now or later?
Does $874,000 set aside under state law (used to fund all-day kindergarten) count toward this year's budget or not?
Those questions and more need answering before the school board can proceed, town officials said. A meeting of the Board of Finance and the Trumbull Town Council is proposed to find solutions.
Several Board of Education members were confused over the current situation and at least one was frustrated over what she said was a decreasing amount of transparency in the education budget.
Board member Lisa Labella said she ran for the Board of Education to improve the transparency of education spending.
"We continue to play games with our budget. Over the past couple of years we've gone in the opposite direction" of transparency, she said.
She criticized the use of "non-transparent budgeting mechanisms," including, for example, how all-day kindergarten was funded. A state law allows school districts to sat aside 1 percent of its surplus in a separate account to be used at a later date.
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Schools Supt. Ralph Iassogna said he was concerned about a potential "funding cliff" for 2013-2014. A funding cliff results when one-time funds are used for ongoing operating expenses.
Concrete answers are not available right now because the school board has not closed its books on the 2012-2013 school year yet. The variables include state aid and the potential surplus the board may have, which could offset a funding cliff.
Vice Chairwoman Deborah Herbst said the budget process should not be difficult and school safety should not be compromised.
Member Tom Kelly proposed the gathering of boards and spending money now on security.
At the proposed meeting, the Board of Finance could take up several requests: an additional $800,000 for security measures; bonding for the school technology initiative, "Project Catapult" and town technology; and bonding for new turf and track material.
Iassogna noted there is already more security in place, particularly in modular classrooms and at schools with other district programs: Booth Hill Elementary School, Frenchtown Elementary School, Tashua Elementary School and Madison Middle School.
Those security personnel will work until then end of the school year and will cost the district about $10,000, Iassogna said.
The school board next meets March 12.