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BOE Unanimous in Passing Budget with No Increase

Cuts made at a workshop Thursday night brought Newtown's education budget down to a 0% increase over current spending.

The Newtown Municipal Center at Fairfield Hills. Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
The Newtown Municipal Center at Fairfield Hills. Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
It's the number many residents have been pushing for — zero. And it's the number the Newtown Board of Education unanimously approved Thursday night.

As approved by the BOE, the 2014-15 education budget of $71,045,304 represents a 0% increase over current spending. It took $534,730 worth of cuts to Interim Superintendent John Reed's original budget proposal — which called for a .75 percent increase — to get there.

"Our goal is to have the kind of budget that will make the difficult decisions at the board level, that convinces the community we have the integrity to make difficult decisions," Reed said a few weeks ago when he presented his budget.

Board of Education member Keith Alexander said Friday that the majority of the cuts — $395,249 — will be made up for through grants that the district expects to get and items that can be paid for with funds in the current year's budget. Where an additional cut of $139,000 comes from will be at the discretion of Reed, Alexander said.

The detailed breakdown of cuts is as follows:

  • Enrollment study to be paid from current year: -17,500
  • Replacement truck to be paid from current year: -40,000
  • SHS sewer assessment to be paid from current year: -15,393
  • Strategic plan consultant to be paid from current year: -25,000
  • Lockests to be paid from Department of Justice grant: -207,500
  • Voice over IP at Reed School, to be paid from DOJ grant: -67,856
  • Special Ed tuition to be paid from DOJ grant: -18,000
  • Special Ed transportation to be paid from DOJ grant: -4,000

Funds for security at Newtown's schools would come under a separate budget, of $2,440,650. If grants comes in as expected, the town would only be on the hook for $43,891 of that, according to an article by the Newtown Bee

The BOE put off a vote on the security budget Thursday night and will meet within the next week to take up the item, The Bee reports.

The education spending package must still get the sign of approval from the Board of Finance and Legislative Council before going to referendum.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com February 07, 2014 at 11:48 AM
I'm sure the BOF will be pleased that the BOE is working very hard to return Newtown to one of the lowest per student expenditures in the state. Not so sure what we say to the students.
Len Destin February 07, 2014 at 11:50 AM
A milestone I'd never thought we'd see... after 10 years and net 40% increase in taxes, lets hope fiscal responsibility becomes the norm instead of the exception.
Paul Alexander February 07, 2014 at 01:07 PM
Getting the budget right sized at the board level is the right thing to do. Bravo to Dr. Reed and BOE. Proposing over-inflated budgets and then daring the taxpayers to right size it at the ballot box, through multiple referenda, is NOT the right thing to do. Hopefully that practice has been ended. The argument that Newtown’s per pupil expenditure, being at the low end of municipalities in CT, will somehow harm the students is garbage. Step back a bit and observe where Newtown’s PPE stands relative to the US average or the average of other high performing countries, and you see that this age old argument that Mo Money is the answer is simply bogus. The next step ought to be multiple years of zero or near zero budget increases as a mechanism to force the fat out of the budget.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com February 07, 2014 at 01:15 PM
Paul the problem with your argument is that in fact at some point the low spending will impact the kids, so how low do you want to go and how much do you want to hurt the kids before you say we have reached the bottom? Or perhaps you have simply become the school budget version of an anorexic
Len Destin February 07, 2014 at 01:35 PM
Bruce the problem with your argument is your equating budget amount as a direct correlation to student experience.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com February 07, 2014 at 01:51 PM
Len I don't think that's the problem. No matter what budget number that is recommended a group of people say its to high. So just give me a number. Per student expenditure times the number of students gives me the total spend, so tell me what you want as the number?
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com February 07, 2014 at 02:40 PM
len pretty funny, you applaud the BOE for cutting the budget request, that's cutting a "meaningless" number isnt it. So here is another question the First Selectman is asking for a .75% increase after putting almost a millions dollars into the reserve the last two years. Seems like there is a bit of fluff in her budget would you not say?
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com February 08, 2014 at 11:32 AM
The real fat seems to be in the town budget. In both of the last two years a million dollars of surplus have happen. They do this by under estimating revenue and over stating expenses. That million dollars is then paid by the taxpayer in our mil rate. It is inexcusable to have done this during a recession and constantly saying the tax payers can't afford increases. At the same time the Bo's are saying we aren't doing the road work that needs to be done and they will try to bond that for 20 years rather than show the expense in the budget. They are spending more and making it look like less.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com February 08, 2014 at 01:31 PM
Porter if you check we have always expense this.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com February 09, 2014 at 11:02 AM
Can anyone tell me who the school security force would report to. They will carry guns so perhaps the police department?
Stephen Rosenblatt February 10, 2014 at 09:42 AM
The "zero" budget of the BoE isn't zero until it reflects the decline in the number of students in the system compared to last year. The state allows a budget reduction of $3,000 per student or 0.05 percent whichever is less. A true zero growth budget would include this reduction, about $350,000. Does it? Not if the budget remains the same as last year's.
Len Destin February 10, 2014 at 10:31 AM
Careful Steven - the all seeing all knowing porter here has a chip on his shoulder as wide as the state; so if he doesn't like what you say he'll accuse you of 'blurting' or try to distract you with non sequitur accusations or being a communist. Good Luck!

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