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UPDATED: It’s Looking Like Full Day Kindergarten will Be a Reality for Newtown

Additional identification of reductions is enough for BOE members to feel they can move forward with full day kindergarten.

Update:  The Newtown Board of Education voted no to renew the superintendent's contract on Tuesday night.

 

 

Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlein has been working with Business Director Ron Bienkowski and Superintendent Janet Robinson to identify areas where additional reductions could be made in accounts.  

Items identified since last Thursday's meeting as a result of further analysis in relationship to what is being spent in the current fiscal year include the following 

Middle School Moving Up Ceremony  ($4200)

Unemployment  ($20,000)

Noncertified Salary adjustment Turnover Savings ($15,000)

Non-certified Extra Work - District ($20,000)

B&G Contracted Services ($5,000)

Postage at the High School ($2,000)

Benefits Adjustment ($15,000)

These items along with all previously identified items can be seen in the Board of Educations Potential Budget Adjustments hand-out which is uploaded to this article. 

After these adjustments it was noted we were within $27,000 of what the Board of Education is calling our Same Services budget with the addition of full day kindergarten. 

At this point of the discussion Superintendent Robinson added that each of the four elementary schools and Reed had each offered $3,000 from their activity fund and $2,000 from their general supply fund to essentailly close the gap. 

Concerens were expressed by BOE members that accounts were so tight in this budget that unexpected items really put meeting the budget in jeporady.

BOE member Keith Alexander felt really positive to say the district was moving forward. While others had concern about the budget being so tight each felt it was important for the school district to implement full day kindergarten in the upcoming year. The discussion was based on the assumption that the budget referendum next Tuesday June 26 would pass. 

At the beginning of the budget discussion the Board voted on making the adjustments in Sections B, C and D of the attached handout because they would happen regardless of what the budget was. 

This vote offically made the decision for next year's bus schedule. All elementary schools will be on the same teir, Reed and Saint Rose would be on Tier 2 and the high school and middle school on Tier 1. 

 

Sue Conrod June 26, 2012 at 05:47 PM
It will be a no for me. If we had 424 more children in the school district they would want 22 more teachers. But when we have (424) less children they need to be laying off teachers. I've lived here on and off for the past 30 years and this school system is not all that great for the money that's been put into it. I want to see a zero increase budget. The town has been holding the line on their side. The school system needs to learn that they are a service to this Town and not a monopoly board where they can just shuffle things around the way they want it. They need to answer to the taxpayer's in this Town.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com June 26, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Sue i am not so sure the town has been holding the Line. First they moved operating expenses on to the capital line thus showing a lower increase in their budget, now we know they used re-bonding payments and reduced interest to cover other increases. The town still has a contingency fund to use for anything they want, the school does not have one. the town has a savings account being funded for possible future equipment purchases, and is putting $900,000 in to the fund. I'm not sure I call that holding the line, maybe more like shuffling the shells, as in a shell game.
Paul Alexander June 26, 2012 at 06:36 PM
"they used re-bonding payments and reduced interest to cover other increases." This will be a battle fought soon. NO NEW BOND ISSUES. Even if it is a re-fi at lower rates, UNLESS the savings are refunded directly to taxpayers with a check. Otherwise it is simply a tax increase sold to the taxpayers as "savings". Time to pull the curtain away from the First Selectman's shell games.
B T June 26, 2012 at 07:32 PM
I'm with 'ya Wendy. With the half day program, kindergarteners get a SEVEN MINUTE recess - (I can hear the nay-sayers responses now, "so we're supposed to foot the bill so they can get a longer recess?"). It's just an example to illustrate what parents of young kids are up against. It's not fair given how much we pay in taxes, to have to put our kids into a private school so they can end up on equal footing with their peers in other districts with FDK. The bar has been raised whether people with grown children (or no children) like it or not. I'm a Republican and a fiscally conservative one at that - but I cannot believe some of the rationales being put forth in these comments, advocating a zero increase. People are voting no to spite individuals, people are voting no because they think the board will come back with an increase? Meanwhile our kids' futures are being turned into a political rag doll. It's disgusting.
Kevin Massett June 27, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Well done to all 'education supporters' that chose to vote no today. Now the LC has little choice than to reduce the budget once again. Anyone who still thinks the education budget will receive an increase after four failed referendums is kidding themselves.
Tullius June 27, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Kevin, I don't agree that it has to go down that way. The school budget has been hit very hard already, and there is plenty of voter support for holding or actually increasing school budget; while the town side has not seen the same kinds of discipline and I don't see any town side spending supporters; do you? I say cut the town side by $500k, then I'll vote yes.
Sam Mihailoff June 27, 2012 at 02:37 AM
just waiting for Po to make good on her gum-flapping
Thomas Crafts June 27, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Newsflash...It looks like FDK is DOA.
taxpayer June 27, 2012 at 05:39 AM
This cracks me up. All the flack homeschoolers get as being "unsocialized" (I completely disagree with this BTW) and now we will have to worry about our kindergarteners in the public school as well. Geesh, make some playdates, go to the park, organize an activity, read to your child, TEACH them. They are only 5 years old, how hard could it be? Taxes should not go up for glorified playdates.
A. G. P. June 27, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I'm sorry it seemed offensive but I assure you my glasses are any thing but rose colored. My father's jobs moved south or to China enough times that we were out of milk, every credit card was full, and we had already checked the couch for change. We all have a story, trying to keep whatever we have. If that's 10G in property taxes, then you were struggling to keep a rather huge house, but again, we all have our reasons. My point was essentially to question why, once someone calls themselves an educator, they cannot be touched. And, it seems, the more money they make , the less "touchable" they are.
sebastian dangerfield June 27, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Ahh michelle You do your own work. And look to save money, rather than pay/overpay. I like that concept. I think thats the idea here. Its just that some people view government expenditures as their money--and thats because it is. Im not exactly sure when school superintendents became so highly paid. Definiely in the last 15 years. And what is the consequence for hiring a sub-optimal superintendent? Will parents stop telling their kids to study? Reserch shows that parenting and teaching is far more important in education, than the amount of money paid to administrators, The other thing I havent looked at, but maybe it's easy to find: how long does the average superintendent stay at their job? It seems with the escalating salaries, superintendents also have realized they can retire much earlier. They get their pension, based on a higher base salary. It may be my imagination, but if I look around at most school districts, the superintendent is about a 5-7 year position...the unintended consequences of overpaying....the pension liability begins to grow and grow. Check out what Stockton California did yesterday. Its important to live within your means--both when hiring a cleaning lady, and when hiring a superintendent.
Realist July 22, 2012 at 04:09 PM
All yes voters. We have been officially played. All no voters, you still have no accountability, a board of Ed that flat out lies. I ask all of you to protest this mismanagement of funds, and tax money. We want FDK. To the board and the superintendent, Reminder- you work for us. You rallied the parents to support your budget for fdk. We did our part, and now you go back on your word. You promised us FDK. I say every parent that has a child going into kindergarten to demand FDK is implemented.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com July 22, 2012 at 04:20 PM
I agree, they certainly implied that FTK was feasible, got your votes and ran for hills.
Realist July 22, 2012 at 04:23 PM
What can we do Bruce? Its simply unnacceptable.
Let's Stand Up July 22, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Then don't accept it. Figure out a plan, protest it and make change happen. How many people do you know that feel the same as you?
Realist July 22, 2012 at 10:22 PM
I think a lot of people feel this way, I think even no voters would join in protest, because it's another example of mismanagement and lack of accountability. I just don't know what we can do at this point. I've been told its a done deal and there's no going back.
Russ July 23, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I agree, I'm furious. At least based on the articles I've read in the Patch and the Bee, FDK was a "go" so long as this last budget passed. Then we pass the budget, $150k in extra special ed costs come into play, and poof, FDK is toast. The BOE needs to understand that it is THEIR JOB that the budget they wants passes, and the way they do that is to ensure that the priorities of the town are implemented and especially that half the town doesn't feel betrayed. FDK is more important than something that the district currently spends money, figure it out... I have zero reason to vote for the budget next year now.
Let's Stand Up July 23, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Do you have access to any groups of people like this? I'm not an expert on the rules of how the board of ed functions - wether or not they can go back and decide to make another cut somewhere else - like maintenance or something like that in order to fund FDk but that is not the only goal of a protest. I would think raising awareness with people in town who haven't been paying close attention would be a big win for election time - even if the decisions can't be reversed. I'v also wondered if there is any way that this could be reason for officials to be removed.
Realist July 23, 2012 at 03:20 AM
I don't. All I know is that it is simply wrong, on so many levels. I think even Sam and some of the other staunch no voters would agree with me on this. This could also be a way for the two sides to unite, and get what we all want, appropriate spending, and management of tax dollars. the bottom line is that we were as good as told we would get FDk, we voted yes, because we wanted that program, and now they say ey don't have the money. This has to be borderline illegal in some way. Perhaps we could petition for an external audit of the school budget. This would make all the voters happy, but this still won't get us FDK this year. We could get all kindergarten parents to protest by missing the first day of school, but that will really only hurt the kids, not the powers that be. I don't know what the answer is.
newtownparent July 23, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I agree with Realist that there is almost something illegal about this. There are a bunch of parents who voted yes because they were led to believe that it would mean FDK for this year. We now have parents who are stuck paying of thousands of dollars for private school and hundreds of children who are going to be "guinea pigs" with this new curriculum on a half day program. I would have voted "NO" if I knew this. I am sick about this and so frustrated. I agree that something needs to be done to address this!
newtownparent July 23, 2012 at 02:57 PM
P.S. I am a stay at home parent who is now having to consider spending thousands of dollars for my child to go to a private full day program. As a Newtown tax payer I not amused with having to possibly make this choice.
Rosemary C. July 23, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Would you FDK lovers prefer we eliminate several teaching positions to cover the cost? Or get rid of a couple of assistant principals at the HS? I am ok with either scenario but the point is FDK must be funded somehow.
onceuponanewtown July 23, 2012 at 04:57 PM
This article is dated June 20, 2012 well before the last referendum and related meetings. Below are some more current links: http://newtown.patch.com/articles/budget-referendum-today-a-recap-of-the-2012-budget-highs-and-lows http://newtown.patch.com/articles/budget-cuts-and-special-ed-costs-doom-all-day-kindergarten
Realist July 23, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Rosemary. After the last vote, we were down 100k of what was needed for FDk. They could have found this across the entire budget without cutting teachers etc. instead they chose to put the money into staff and program development and adding a middle school counselor. Gross mismanagement of funds. People seem to forget that FDk is a necessity for early intervention, special needs kids, and preparation for a much tougher 1st grade. Some kids haven't even been To preschool. It is perhaps the most important grade of elementary school. I am taking about the fact that we eere literally promised FDk. They got their yes vote and decided to use the money elsewhere.
Paul Alexander July 23, 2012 at 06:08 PM
The town and the school system needs to get onboard with the "Do more with less" initiatives that the private sector has embraced for the past few years as revenues have declined. The good news is that the town and the school system's revenues aren’t declining, just flat. That's a pretty good deal in this economic environment. Yet they whine like cut off Trust children. The era of "give us more money to do more with" is OVER. Typically, the public sector is late to the "do more with less" party and must be dragged kicking and screaming. Welcome to reality. Now start prioritizing your expenses cuz the days of annual 5+% budget increases are over for an extended period of time.
onceuponanewtown July 23, 2012 at 06:26 PM
What "they" are you referring to Bruce? The BOE could not answer questions relating to the budget at the JULY 12 meeting due to "... the absence of Ron Bienkowski, the school district’s business director". http://newtown.patch.com/articles/board-of-ed-meeting-no-budget-talks
Rosemary C. July 23, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Agreed. And the biggest piece of the budget is salary and benefits. Wonder who is representing the taxpayers side on the upcoming teachers contract negotiations. We must see significant givebacks by the union. I am talking pay freezes and significant increases in their contribution towards their medical and dental. Just like the real world.
Daniel Patti August 03, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Danbury Gets FDK. http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Danbury-to-begin-all-day-kindergarten-3758280.php
Gina Wessen August 26, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Would like to get your input about the tone of the "Accountability In Newtown" FB Group, and whether you think it helps or hurts the town. Please chime in at the new "Accountability in Newtown CT (Open and Uncensored)" FB Group here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/359442710803141/
Jodie September 01, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Please respond to the real Gina (Donna Boyce) at the link below: The corresponding "referring URL to Gina's Profile Picture is: https://www.facebook.com/po.murray/friends?ft_ref=mini Donna Boyce: http://www.donnaboyce.com/Why_Call_Donna/page_566782.html

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