Covering subjects including supplemental appropriations, all-day kindergarten and possible grants, school officials and the Board of Finance opened discussion of the proposed education budget.
The presentation preceded the first public hearing on the budget at at 7 p.m. today.
Schools Supt. Ralph Iassogna explained the board's proposed increase of 5.07 percent. First Selectman Tim Herbst's budget proposal calles for a 3.47 percent increase. Both favor all-day kindergarten starting in the 2012-2013 school year.
School Board Chairman Steve Wright opened with a defense of 5.07 percent. "We spent a great deal of time discussing the value of the programs," he said.
"Education in Connecticut is going to reformed in the next couple of years," said Wright, who also serves on the state Board of Education. He later added, "The fact that we have a high performing district will be rewarded under the new system that is being proposed."
"We look at goal. We continue to look at goal. We are the pride of Connecticut school districts. We are the price of national school districts. It is the number one attractive feature of this town," he said. "If you approve our budget as we present it, I ... can say with some degree of confidence we will continue to produce a good educational product."
Iassogna said the presentation was the fifth stage. After recommending a 4.98 percent increase, the board's recommendation came from "countless hours of review, examination probing and analysis."
He assured the finance board that the school board "does focus on the finance side of the operation."
The board has enacted "cost-saving measures without compromising student needs," the superintendent said. "The Board of Education has appropriately responded to the town's direction."
Specifically, it $3.2 million in its requested budgets of the last two years, Iassogna said.
He highlighted six areas on which the school is focusing:
- Scientific Research-Based Intervention
- Common Core Standards
- Reaccreditation of Trumbull High School in 2013
- The No Child Left Behind Act (from whose requirements Connecticut is seeking a waiver)
- The 2012 reformation of education in Connecticut
Iassogna noted that Trumbull was named the seventh best town in the nation for families to live and the school district was ranked 9 out of 10. Almost 100 percent of THS students graduate and 99 percent continue onto college, he added.
In comparison to other communities in Trumbull's region, Trumbull nearly spends the least, according to Iassogna.
School Board Chairwoman Deborah Herbst endorsed all-day kindergarten. A retired educator, she said she started the first all-day kindergarten program in Bridgeport in 1983.
She added that a new computer program will allow teachers to more closely track students' progress.
Finance board Chairwoman Elaine Hammers praised Trumbull High School students, saying they were respectful and insightful about the school system.
Other members asked about whether the school board should pre-buy items or use a supplemental appropriation after the budget approved. They also wondered if that appropriation would add to the base budget.
The goal is to avoid causing problems in future years, said member Tom Tesoro.
Meanwhile, speaking for the Trumbull Business Education Initiative, recently retired director John Annick asked the board for an extra $10,000 to $12,000 to improve its broadcasts on Channel 17/99. The BEI raises money and awards grants to local students and teachers to learn about careers.
"We need your support," he said.
Iassogna said he has heard compliments about improvements in the broadcasts.