School Board Votes Tuesday On $212.6 Million Proposal
April 1, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
The resounding theme
expressed by parents Thursday evening at a public hearing for
the proposed Hartford education budget was that the city should
allocate more than the administration is requesting.
The budget proposal, presented at Barnard-Brown Elementary School,
calls for a 4.2 percent increase for the 2005-06 year, raising
spending by $8.6 million for an operating budget of $212.6 million.
In addition to covering increasing fixed expenses such as heat
and negotiated raises, this budget includes new teachers for
grades being phased in at magnet schools and for new math textbooks
to support a revised curriculum.
David Ionno asked the school board to take a stand against the
federal government and demand that more money be spent on education
and less money spent on war around the world.
Several other speakers picked up on Ionno's theme. Larry Deutsch,
co-president of Bulkeley High School's PTO, said the National
Guard has put posters up in the high schools offering $10,000
signing bonuses to students who enlist.
"Wouldn't it be nice to hear that money [being spent] on
education," Deutsch said, "rather than on recruiting
our kids to go to war."
Deutsch also suggested that the school system should consider
paying John Motley, former president of the St. Paul Travelers
Connecticut Foundation, just $1 a year from the operating budget
if it votes Tuesday to hire him as director of external affairs.
The school system should then raise the rest of his $120,000
through corporate donations or grants.
The gesture would show the legislature and city residents that
money allocated for education is going directly to the classrooms,
Sam Saylor, a Weaver High
School PTO member, told the board that he was deeply disappointed
by the proposed budget. He called the spending plan a "maintenance budget" and asked: "What
are you proposing to maintain - a limping, failing system? I
applaud your efforts, but what we have here is not enough."
Over the past few years, the school system has cut staff through
layoffs and attrition. Reductions were mainly limited to administration,
the nursing staff, guidance, buildings and grounds, 28 literacy
teachers and social workers.
The proposed spending plan seeks to restore some of those positions,
though not the literacy teachers, who helped teachers in their
classrooms. In all, the superintendent's budget seeks funding
for 54 new positions. Of those, 25 would be for teachers to add
grades to existing magnet schools and for a principal and teachers
for the new Capital Preparatory Magnet School.
The other new positions include upgrading three part-time assistant
principals to full-time, two new teachers for Hooker School,
two at Kinsella, four special education teachers, three Job Corps
teachers, a part-time guidance counselor, five classroom aides
for special education, and one special education secretary.
The proposal also includes four new security officers for Clark,
Kennelly, Milner and Wish elementary schools; three new custodians;
and a plumber. Enrollment in the school system is projected to
increase slightly, from 22,370 to 22,475.
The board will vote on the budget plan when it meets at SAND
Elementary School Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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