Trumbull Board of Finance Approves Full Day Kindergarten Funding

Trumbull Board of Finance approves funding for Full Day Kindergarten

Trumbull’s Board of Finance broke the Full Day Kindergarten funding deadlock on Wednesday evening. They used a recently passed state statute allowing them to transfer unspent school funds – up to one percent of this year's budget – from this year to next. 

First Selectman Tim Herbst opened the session with a call for “bipartisanship” and “collaboration,” without even a hint of irony, in that he had created the problem. 

Superintendent of Schools Ralph Iassogna supported the transfer, stating that this new approach “will help parents properly plan for the fall... and allow us to hire the most capable and qualified teachers.” 

The largest of Herbst's adjustments to the 2012-13 budget was chopping nearly $1.4 million from what has become a chronically spare education budget.  His cut placed the $873,000 FDK program and several important restorations of previous cuts in jeopardy.  The latter includes the reduction in teaching positions at Trumbull High School despite growing enrollment and the elimination of reading specialists in the middle schools.

Board Action 

Finance Board Chair Elaine Hammers recommended approval of the two part resolution – to establish a new account for the Board of Education, and to approve its funding, in July, once the actual savings amount becomes known.  The board agreed, 5 – 1.

Democrat Tom Tesoro voiced the only opposition, saying “I will vote for this,” but added it is “the stupidest idea I’ve heard of… this a supplemental appropriation… it makes no sense… it is bad policy.”

He also reiterated what he said during budget deliberations, that FDK should have been included in the budget because it is too important to be funded with what may be a one shot supplemental appropriation.  Tesoro believes this change would help make Trumbull more attractive to young families. 

The dissenting vote was cast by Republican Andy Palo.  Palo, too, supports FDK, but commented after the vote that he was taking a wait and see attitude.  This called into question whether he believes his fellow Republicans would, in deed, fully fund the new account. 

Like Tesoro, he is concerned that adopting this new mechanism could put FDK in jeopardy again next year.

This outcome is hardly advantageous for our schools because FDK will require nearly the full one percent.  Making this amount available will mean finding substantial savings.  The schools' March 31 financial statements showed the administration was benefiting from a warm winter, and they were able to hire new teachers at salaries below the average used in the budget. 

But closing the gap may necessitate shortchanging students by reducing purchases of classroom supplies, textbooks and software.  It may also require again deferring scheduled repair and maintenance projects. 

Further, shortly after cutting the education budget, the First Selectman with – to this writer’s knowledge – no prior public statement, sought $1.2 million to provide tax credits to home owning senior citizens with incomes as high as $61,000.  He supported his proposal by saying keeping seniors in their homes makes the budget easier to control. 

Cutting spending one year to save the next is robbing Peter to pay Paul.  It also lends an air of pitting one segment of the community against another, hardly an example of “bipartisanship” and “collaboration.”

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

I Love Trumbull May 01, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Roy, I can't keep track. Is this written as an opinion piece or as a Patch writer? Also, we never got clarification if you're donating your senior tax credit back to the BOE. Please let us know how you plan to proceed. A simple yes or no will suffice. Thanks
Roy Fuchs May 01, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Dear Ms. or Mr. Trumbull - It is an opinion piece. Last year I was a contributor. Since the beginning of this year Patch, which is owned by AOL, which also owns Huffington Post, has implemented the HuffPost model - a few professional journalists plus a large number of bloggers. I have never been the former, and am now the latter. I will have no senior tax credit to donate back. I fail the means test. I'm interested to know what struck you as editorial rather than reportage. I may have used an adjective or two that I might not have as a reporter, but the facts are the facts. Is it opinion to say we're "robbing Peter to pay Paul?" I think not. The TC approved a board of education budget last May. They did not tell the BoE that they only intended them to spend 99% of that amount. By way of reference, the previous year, the administration spent 99.5% of the budget - an amount short of what the system needs (unless you're OK with reducing teaching positions at THS while enrollment grows, or if you think it's reasonable for the 40th wealthiest community of the 169 in CT to be one of about 30 that charges its students to participate in athletics or the annual high school musical...). Then they negotiated with the town administration to get back about 80% of the unspent money to return programs that had been eliminated during the budget process. The FS's cuts now preclude returning many similarly worthwhile programs. Roy


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