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Frosh Sports, TAG Teachers Cut, but 2nd Grade Teachers Returned

Two school board members plan on asking the town for more funds later this year.

To meet a 2.375 increase, the school board made good on its cuts in sports and the gifted program, while maintaining class sizes with four second-grade teachers and keeping reading specialists.

More will have to be cut if the board must adhere to a lower increase of 1.11 percent.

This was the harsh reality played out at Wednesday evening’s Board of Education meeting as the Board of Education cut $2.55 million and made trade-offs required to get down to the First Selectman’s approved $87 million request. The meeting took place in the board's Long Hill Administration Building.

Board member Steve Wright described the panel's task as a “Hobson’s choice,” a take-it-or-leave it with no attractive option.

The board accepted cuts recommended by the administration, with the exceptions that they “bought back” the four teachers needed to hold second-grade class size at today’s level and retained the middle school reading teachers by eliminating the TAG program, tapping a final federal stimulus account and sweeping balances from the adult education, drivers’ ed and summer school accounts.

The board eliminated freshman sports – boys and girls volleyball, basketball, lacrosse and soccer, and field hockey, baseball, softball and football. Sophomore football and girls ice hockey, a club sport, were also cut, while junior varsity cheerleading remains.

The impact of this cut is that freshmen can still play sports, but not on teams that will have separate schedules, and so may find themselves with far less game playing time.

The cuts swept out computer para-professionals and interns in all six elementary schools, a speech/language teacher, five teachers, five secretaries and two custodians.

All told, some three dozen line items were reduced, including professional development and teacher training, library and classroom books, classroom and office supplies, plus repair and maintenance items, among others.

Board members Loretta Chory, Lisa Labella, Tom Kelly and Wright spoke in support of the TAG program.  But all saw a greater benefit is holding class size, and so were forced to let TAG go.

Labella noted that TAG is one of the programs that distinguishes Trumbull’s schools and makes the community attractive to young families. She called TAG important more for its “social-emotional support than for what it delivers academically.”

Kelly added that “around July 1 I will ask the Board of Finance for a supplemental for the two TAG teachers.”  Wright offered to be a quick second.

The Wednesday meeting, however, may have been only round one. Still ahead is resolving the Town Council’s seizure of $1.075 million in Health Insurance funding, an alleged usurping of school board authority, education lawyer Tom Mooney said. 

The education board will hold a special meeting on May 10 to address the matter.  If the town replaces the funds and removes its contingency by that time, last night’s budget is next year’s budget.

Otherwise, additional cuts will have to be made to drop the budget to $85.9 million, and virtually necessitate closing an elementary school. The board will also determine whether to pursue legal action to establish its sole authority under state statute to make line item allocations to its budget.

Peter May 09, 2011 at 03:39 AM
www.ctsunlight.org data is verified and accurate.
Concerned Parent May 09, 2011 at 12:25 PM
This thread seems like Dave Wilsoon on one side, and then everyone else in the town on the other. It seems like there are many more people upset about these changes than happy with them. I know that my children will be directly affected by BOTH of the programs that are being cut (freshman sports and TAG), and I am extremely disappointed in both parties. The Republicans will find that many of the swing voters (people who are independent and vote from election to election based on issues) are now lost to them - many of those were people who supported them in the last election (ironically when they claimed to be running on a pro-eductation platform). I know that I (and most of the parents where I live) will be moving in a new direction in future Novembers on the Board of Finance, Town Council, and of course, the FS. In terms of the BoE, who I also feel may have failed us here, what can be done about that? We can resolve the issues in our government through elections, what about the BoE?
Concerned Parent May 09, 2011 at 12:26 PM
Also, how many other towns in Fairfield County do not have freshman sports and/or TAG-style programs?
dave wilsoon May 09, 2011 at 01:25 PM
Lisa Ctsunlight is correct. The Trumbull BOE website confirms the Dean of Students salary. Not surprisingly, I find no mention of the Associate to the Dean nor Crisis Intervention Specialist in either the TEA or TAA or TWA. Now wonder our budget is in such disarray- the people in charge either don't know or are very good at hiding the information. One can state any and all positions are vital to success, from the bus drivers to the principals- it is much harder to objectively prove. When you are broke, it's time to cut. That's what happens in the real world.
dave wilsoon May 09, 2011 at 01:33 PM
Dear Parent Posse- Thanks but no thanks. A group of us already played this game 10 years ago with no success. What we received was a bunch of double-speak and promises to assemble committees from ralph and the BOE. Conducting a study is usually gov't code for lets not do ANYTHING AND STALL. The solution is simple- elect nonpolitical people who can make the tough call with the KIDS best interest at heart- the rest is just nepotism and empire building by the BOE.
trumbulite09 May 09, 2011 at 01:41 PM
I think all of the people posting, picking every line item a part and criticizing parents and the BOE are missing the obvious. Yes - we are in tough economic times but the First Selectman has not offered to keep the tax rate flat to help. If he was, I would agree everyone has to sacrafice. He is not --- the tax rate is increasing AGAIN for the second time in his two year term. However, he does not say where the increase is benefiting the town. A raise for him, a raise for his personnel director. he tried to get another admin position. Why would he need two. CEOs and CFOs of fortune 500 companies do not have two. Wake up - Herbst thinks he can do what he wants. His parents back him up and his cronies blame everyone but what it so obvious. Again - November can't come soon enough!
Cindy Katske May 09, 2011 at 02:35 PM
I don't understand why you would expect each position to be listed in the contracts. Lisa Labella already stated that the reason they are not listed in the administrators' contract is because they are not considered to be administrators. Do you expect the TEA contract to list every teacher and salary? I suspect that you will never be satisfied--the contracts are online for everyone to see, but because they don't contain the level of detail that you are apparently expecting, you bash the BOE for hiding information. I understand that's your M.O. and I don't expect you to change it any time soon.
Thomas Tesoro May 09, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Hi, Mr. Wilsoon has his point of view and he is entitled to it. The fact that he chooses to demean others by calling them a "parent posse" is unfortunate and we should be sure not to rise to this kind of negative provocation. No amount of factual data will sway him, nothing the BOE or the Superintendent say they will do or have done will satisfy him. That is his right and we should respect his right to be wrong. We should continue to focus on the issues, that is, that with a small amount of compromise all this would have been avoided. Instead, from the very beginning we have anger, rancor, and counter-productive comments designed to inflame the few for politcal purposes. In November we will have the opportunity to do one of two things, recognize and elect those from both parties who believe in compromise and a strong education system at a competitive price or elect those who through the lack of compromise have put us in this unnecessary situation. In the future we must learn from this years mistake and get involved early and often, not wait until the die is cast and it is too late. Tom Tesoro P.S. For those who may think this is an advertisement for me, I am not running for anything this November.
Thomas Tesoro May 09, 2011 at 03:07 PM
My apologies to Mr. Wilsoon for attributing the "parent posse" to him. However, my general issue with Mr. Wilsoon's comments remain and I urge those of us who support sensible spending on education( whether we be a parent posse or not) not to rise to the negativity in Mr. Wilsoon's posts. We need to focus on the issues and remind ourselves that much is at stake here. Tom Tesoro
SHK May 09, 2011 at 03:48 PM
I feel that instead of cutting most of the students programs and para-professionals, the BOE should work on cutting more expensive items. There is a multitude of administration at Long Hill that serves no purpose. I think that some of the employees can handle different jobs. Some of the business accounts should also be cut. If classes were more interactive and involved less paperwork, the budget situation would be helped immensely. Money would be saved on printer paper and ink. Teachers in CT make the most out of the entire United States and I feel that their salaries should be cut. I feel the same way about the several adminisrators that we employ. In addition, we spend way too much on teacher benefits and although they work extremely hard, they should not be treated like the way they are. In addition several of the administrators serve no purpose to the town. I feel however, certain items like mantainence items adn custodians should be kept. They keep the schools clean and orderly. Without them, our schools would be extremely filthy. Trumbull high school is able to be clean despite the renovations.
Cindy Katske May 09, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Stephen, you are making very sweeping statements of opinion but you aren't supporting your statements with any information or details. Which administrators serve no purpose? What business accounts should be cut, and why? Please be specific.
gidget May 09, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Mr Kadish Could you be more specific and state which administrative positions are wasteful? I would also be interested in hearing which positions could absorb the work load. Thank you in advance.
SamIAm May 09, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Mr. Kadish- there is a reason that teachers in Ct make more than other areas in the US. The cost of living in CT speaks for itself. I'm also not sure if you are aware that Trumbull teachers are paid less than most of the other towns in Fairfield Co. and look at the results they bring! It's so sad that the economic climate in the town, state, and country have people on a which hunt for "overpaid" teachers. Isn't that an oxymoron?
dave wilsoon May 09, 2011 at 07:39 PM
cindi and giget- On behalf of mr. kadish and with a minimum of effort and no politics, I identified over $340,000 PLUS benefits of questionable salaries for new positions created since 2002. In times of economic distress companies in the real world have to do more with less staff. Prior to 2002, THS housemasters and principal were adequate in addressing our childrens needs. Suddenly we need Deans and Associate Deans and Crisis Specialists...etc. to "save lives" Awesome hyperbole with no backup. Wake up the people in the office and cut some ADMINISTRATIVE FAT. OR bring back tax and spend Ray and hand the BOE what little money the taxpayers may have left in their pockets. Your choice
Momof3 May 09, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Riley I couldn't agree with you more. We have now aligned ourselves with other troubled school systems such as Stratford, Shelton and Monroe. We just need to cross our borders to see the damage that's been done to Trumbull's Educational system. At this point we can all move a town over and save ourselves a lot of money in taxes if that's the objective. In fact this is what I would recommend to Mr. Wilsoon.
Momof3 May 09, 2011 at 07:54 PM
Mr. Wilsoon, May I ask why it is that you still live in this town? What is your added value to Trumbull? Furthermore, If we'd like to get into the discussion of nepotism- I'm quite sure we wouldn't get far beyond our First Selectman's family.
I Love Trumbull May 09, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Tom, Linda, Cindy or anyone else for that matter, Very simply: 1) Back in 2000-2001 how many employees did the BOE have vs 2010-2011? broken down into two groups (Teacher and Others) 2) Total payroll for 2000-2001 vs 2010-2011? broken down into two groups (Teacher and Others) This would the debate about cutting the fat. Thanks
Cindy Katske May 09, 2011 at 08:34 PM
One would certainly have to look at enrollment changes during that period, as well as the imposition of mandates such as No Child Left Behind and special education inclusion rules. I assume you have the data and will post it?
dave wilsoon May 09, 2011 at 08:41 PM
Cindi My facts as stated have no bearing on meeting NCLB or other mandates or inclusion programs. What is the excuse now not to cut the fat?
Cindy Katske May 09, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Dave, my response was to Michael's post about the increase in personnel since 2000. Your "facts" are not facts at all, they are your opinion that those "administrative" positions (which are not even classified as administrative) are not necessary. You are quite adept at hyperbole yourself and at not providing any backup information for your harshly worded opinions.
I Love Trumbull May 09, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Cindy, I wish I did have the data or was directed on where to find it. I thought this would be readily available. It's hard to have an opinion until you have all the facts. Well, maybe not.
SHK May 10, 2011 at 07:26 PM
I am well aware that the cost of living in CT is extremely high. I did not know that Trumbull paid less than other towns in Fairfield CO.
SHK May 10, 2011 at 07:33 PM
I feel that certain office accounts should be cut, this would include purchasing less office equipment like copiers and ink. As you may know, the cost of ink for printers is at an all time high and if things were printed less, there would not be a need to spend so much on that. In addition, I do not feel the deans and intervention specialists at THS serve much of a purpose and make too much, this is also the same with having a headmaster and three assistant principals. I also do not feel the need for several of the office personnel over at Long hill.
SHK May 10, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Like I mentioned above and what Mr. Wilsoon stated below, we need to be able to consollidate the jobs of people and one person should be able to handle a few jobs. In addition, the amount of principals and administrators in THS is skyrocketed and unnecessary.
Jose May 11, 2011 at 01:44 AM
Where exactly does this false perception that there are too many admininstrators at Long Hill, too many admininstrators at THS and that they don't need social workers or counselors coming from? Within the education community, Trumbull is considered to already run on the cheap. Teachers, counselors, and admininstrators left the high school in droves for better pay, better benefits, and places where there were more staff, but less kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have to wonder who SHK and Dave Wilsoon are and do they post under the influence of perception altering substances?
Concerned Parent May 11, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Jose: To be fair, no one really knows that they are all needed either. It's not a very easy thing to measure, and of course people on both sides of the argument swear that we need more/less administrative and social service staff, so who really knows? I know when I went to THS I only had a principal, a house principal, a nurse, and a guidance counselor. Maybe a Dean of Students? If so, I don't remember one. When someone got in trouble they went to the house principal, when they got sick they went to the nurse, and for everything else (ranging from college choices to social problems) they went to the guidance counselor or worked on it with their parents. Do we really need assistant deans and intervention specialists? This was something that the guidance counselors and parents handled when I was in school. I am not saying these services are not needed, and this is a different time, but many people may draw back to their own youth and feel that our government-run programs continue to grow, and people may wonder if their will be a bathroom monitor, a tantrum specialist, a self-defense para-professional, a dean of bullies, and a locker coordinator added in the future.
Concerned Parent May 11, 2011 at 12:42 PM
{continued} I have no doubt that all of the professionals and administrators in the system take their jobs very seriously, but my guess is that some fear that positions are not added out of necessity, but simply to appease a lobbying group or a small group of squeaky wheels. I am on the side of supporting education financially, so do not take me wrong, but I certainly see no harm in questioning the criticality of some of the administrative and social positions. Checks and balances are a good thing, and we should neither attack nor defend them blindly.
Jose May 11, 2011 at 10:32 PM
While nicely worded, you are still making references to the past..."when I was in school." It's totally irrelevant to the present or the future. The posts that I challenged were from minds that are not interested in being informed or enlightened. They only serve to undermine any strategy to move our education system forward at our children's and community's expense. So of course, they should be attacked!
Roy Fuchs May 12, 2011 at 02:20 AM
Michael, with regard to your search for facts about administrators, most of the last 20 years' budget books are available in the reference area at the Trumbull Library. Second, a growing portion of system expenses are due to unfunded mandates, including IDEA (the basic special education law), No Child Left Behind, and a long list of others - all of which can be found in the PTA Council's ABC's of the Education Budget (http://www.trumbullps.org/budgets/TCG10.pdf) And we face a others in the future, including stiffer graduation standards for students entering high school in 2014. In addition, our district has made a commitment to provide non-mandated reading and math specialists, psychologists, occupational and physical therapists and similar support staff and services in and outside the classroom for students whose educational performance should benefit from them. And more such students enter our system each year. These are not special ed students, but they are personally or educationally needy. With regard to special education, Trumbull has a smaller percentage of these students than many similar districts, and now does more in-house education, at a lower cost than was its practice even ten years ago. On the other side of the ledger, pay-to-participate for athletics, the high school musical and elementary band and orchestra lays off a system cost onto families whose children enroll in these activities. And these fees will rise for the next school year.
CTPati May 12, 2011 at 10:07 PM
Jose, obviously a self-interested school employee who wants Trumbull taxpayers to pay MORE to employees in his position, blasts others who post under a screen name. What hubris!! Tues. at 9:44 p.m. he posted "You have to wonder who SHK and Dave Wilsoon are"...and Weds. at 6:32 p.m. he added "So of course, they should be attacked!" (I write "obviously..." because of following many of Jose's comments, it seems that he is a school administrator or counselor who works in Westport or some other more affluent community, because they can afford to pay more.)

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