Hartford School Board Chips Away At $15 Million Deficit
March 04, 2010
Facing a nearly $15 million deficit in 2010-11, the board of education is considering eliminating 180 jobs and reducing the $30 million proposed transportation budget by $8 million.
Those moves, school officials said at a workshop Thursday with Mayor Eddie A. Perez and members of the city council, would save about $10 million in the hope that the city could put up $5 million.
That could be difficult for city leaders, though, because they are wrestling with a $43 million overall budget gap that includes the education shortfall created by flat funding from the state and increases in contractual costs.
If the city doesn't step in, district officials said more drastic measures will be needed to achieve the additional $5 million in savings. They include: requesting an additional $5 million in local funding from the legislature to offset tuition costs associated with Sheff-mandated desegregation efforts; asking for $5 million in union concessions; deferring district contributions to the Municipal Employees Retirement Fund next year; and a $5 million reduction to non-mandated programs such as preschool, kindergarten, elementary school counseling, athletics and adult education. The school board also could make smaller reductions in each of the suggested areas totalling $5 million.
"What we are telling you with resolve is that we can't cut schools anymore than the additional $10 million," Superintendent Steven Adamowski said Thursday.
Adamowski said that, in the short term, the district could save $2 million next year by reducing the school year from 182 days to the state minimum of 180 days, effectively furloughing its employees for two days. But in the long term, he said, the district needs to reduce its contribution to employee health insurance plans and shelve its current pension plan.
"Those are two big-ticket items that we can't control," he said.
Councilman Luis Cotto said he favored increasing legislative funding by $5 million in light of last year's decision to flat-fund the district, but Perez cautioned that "none of the options are easy ones."
"The hard work is going to be in implementing them," he said.
Last year, the school district shed 250 jobs, including 100 teachers, and initiated other cost-cutting measures to address a similar deficit.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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