Hartford Council Cuts $1.25 Million From Proposed School Budget
By STEVEN GOODE
May 21, 2010
HARTFORD —The city council cut an additional $1.25 million from the proposed school budget Wednesday, and the board of education is prepared to choose from several options to close the gap.
School board Chairwoman Ada Miranda said most of the budget-cut options the board mapped out in March are still on the table, except for reducing some non-mandatory spending, such as athletics or before- and after-school activities.
One possibility would be to furlough employees for the first two snow days of the year. That would be possible because the school year for Hartford students is 182 days, two days more than mandated by the state, Miranda said.
Another possibility would be to consider reducing the city's contribution to the employee pension fund, which currently is funded at more than 100 percent, and increasing insurance co-payments for school employees.
The $1.25 million reduction in spending comes on the heels of no increase in funding from the city last year.
Earlier this year the district was faced with a $15 million deficit and made $12.5 million in cuts that included laying off teachers and reducing the transportation budget for next year.
Jim Starr, executive director of Achieve Hartford!, an organization supporting school reform in Hartford, called the additional educational spending cut "unfortunate in light of the district's good-faith effort to make extensive cuts to its budget proposal. Unfortunately that didn't get recognized."
Starr said he is worried that continued flat or under-funding of the city's schools would slow or even reverse recent improvements in achievement and graduation rates by city students.
"It's not sustainable," he said. "The math doesn't work."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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