After tremendous public outcry, the Board of Education declined to accept the superintendent of school's proposal to remove a district music director and health coordinator in order to free up money to hire two district instructional leaders.
But while the board , notable the implementation of full-day kindergarten, there were many requests that ended up on the cutting floor. Here is a glimpse of those requests in the order in which they were proposed, along with some of the details of the discussion members had prior to voting down the items.
In some cases, board members said they may re-evaluate their decision in these areas at a later date if it becomes necessary.
District Equipment ($63,504)
Board member Richard Gaines made a motion, which was seconded by Bill Hart, to add $63,504 for district equipment that he said would improve the district and "keep us functional."
After some members said they would likely not support the addition, particularly because the equipment might not directly affect children in the classroom, board member Keith Alexander sought to broker a compromise. He proposed the amount be reduced to $23,504, removing a request to replace one of three aging vehicles that have 120,000 or more miles.
But in the end, the reduced request still failed 4-3.
Coaches and Afterschool Study Hall Supervisor ($13,321)
Alexander also made a motion, which seconded by Hart, to add $13,321 to cover the stipends needed for a varsity gymnastics coach ($4,404) and third indoor track coach ($4,917), as well as to pay for an after-school study hall supervisor ($4,000).
Alexander said he proposed the addition because it was a small amount and one that had been partially discussed last year when the board gave the high school the go-ahead to start a varsity gymnastics program.
The request failed 5-2.
District Math/Science Instructional Leader and High School Math Teacher ($141,337)
Gaines, backed by Hart, initiated this motion seeking $141,337 to be spent on hiring a math and science instructional leader and math teacher at the high school, saying the scores in those areas had slipped well below other similar communities, and as a result deserved attention.
Board member John Vorous said he agreed the scores needed to go up, but he believed the expertise already existed in-house, in the form of Assistant Superintendent Linda Gejda, who specializes in math and science.
"We hired her for her excellent expertise," Vorous said of Gejda. "We need to tap into that as fast as we can and get her staff on board to move this initiative...We've got expertise sitting right in front of us and we have to tap into it, and if she dials 911, we have to get help."
Meanwhile, Cody McCubbin said he believed with the expense associated with starting full-day kindergarten, the district could not afford any further additions unless additional savings were identified in other areas.
"We should wait until we get to that point before we move forward," he said.
Board Chairman Debbie Leidlein also said she believed some of the duties of a math and science instructional leader already fell under the job description of existing staff, such as lead teachers, specialists, assistant principals, department chairs and the assistant principal.
"In all of these job descriptions, it seems to overlap with what we are asking for in a district wide coordinator," she said.
The request failed 5-2
High School Math Teacher ($57,256)
While he didn't support a combined motion, Alexander proposed the board take up the addition of another math teacher at the high school for a cost of $57,256.
"We can try to make a change incrementally," he said.
But again, McCubbin said if the district had leftover money, he would support hiring the teacher but not now.
"Out of anyting on this list, that would probably be the one thing I see," he said of the math teacher. "Again, we have a big bill here...let's see if we can find money before we tack it on."
Hart said the likelihood of finding additional money that was substantial enough to pay for such a position was slim.
"We have to stand up and tell the community it's now time for excellence in education," he said.
But board member Laura Roche said she believed staff at Reed Intermediate School was more of a priority than the high school.
"We're getting to a point where everyone has a Christmas list," she said. "I would rather see a Reed position added than the math teacher."
Vorous also said he would support additional teachers at Reed rather than the high school math teacher.
The request failed 4-3.
Physical Education Teacher, Additional Hours for Reading and Math Teachers at Reed ($130,314)
After a $71,477 request for staff and program development work and professional educational services in curriculum; a $23,000 proposal to add wireless technology at the high school; and $59,093 to add a guidance counselor at the middle school received approval from the education board, Vorous proposed staff additions at Reed Intermediate School.
He said he believed Reed needed additional staff to help with scheduling and allow reading scores to go up.
But while that request would have garnered support from Roche, who was known for her advocacy of Reed prior to her election to the board, the budget amounts had reached a point where Roche said she could not support any further increases.
"I feel like I've gotten to a number I don't feel comfortable with," she said of the proposed $130,314 worth of staff additions. "The reality is I don't think (the budget's) going to pass if we keep on adding to it."
Leidlein also said officials were working to improve the district but that she believed the budget request had reached its maximum.
"There is a limit to what the public is willing to accept at one point and time," she said.
But Hart said the board needed to make a stand in support of education.
"Do we want to have an educational program that slowly starves to death?" he asked hypothetically. "I know we need to be careful but it's time."
McCubbin and Alexander said due to economic times, the board must be sensitive to hardships residents were having with paying their tax bills.
"It's getting to the point where it's getting tough to swallow," McCubbin said. "These property tax bills are big...We have to cognizant that we are now starting to push the boundaries a little bit."
Hart said he believed Newtown was in better economic shape than the rest of the country.
The request failed 4-3.
Building and Site Maintenance Projects ($250,000)
Gaines requested the board seek $250,000 for maintenance and site improvements, about half of what had been originally requested. Alexander then tried to reduce the request to $100,000.
Motion failed 4-3
Technology Equipment ($100,000)
Gaines then tried to request $100,000 be spent in new technology equipment.
Motion failed 5-2.