Norwalk BoE spells out $2 million in budget cuts

Norwalk Board of Education Finance Committee Chairman Bryan Meek, left, explains potential budget cuts to NancyOnNorwalk on Thursday in City Hall. BoE Vice Chairman Mike Barbis, right, has a discussion with a teacher.

Updated, 3 p.m.: editing; 2:30 a.m.: Full story. 

NORWALK, Conn. — A consensus has been reached on cutting nearly $2 million from the 2017-18 Norwalk Public Schools operating budget, Board of Education Finance Committee Chairman Bryan Meek said Thursday.

The agreed-upon list includes cutting all 43 kindergarten aides as well as two Brookside preschool teachers and four Brookside preschool paraprofesssionals, transferring operation of the Norwalk High School pool to the city, and eliminating middle school private music lessons and middle school intramural sports. Spared in this scenario is the elimination of the Pathways Academy at Briggs. Also spared is the elementary school Academically Talented program.

Meek said, after Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting, that the BoE is 85-95 percent in agreement of these cuts, drawn from a $4.7 million shopping list of possible cuts presented by Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton during the meeting but circulated among Board members earlier.

“These have been socialized to the Board over the last couple of weeks and we have forged consensus on cuts. When I say forged, we have a lot of agreement, areas we disagree on,” Meek said during the meeting.

The vote to move the recommendations to the full Board was unanimous. The full Board is expected to vote June 20.

The recommended cuts are in addition to the $1.3 million reductions that have already been voted upon.

BoE cuts 17-0608 20170609

(Recommended cuts are circled)

There is nothing on the new list that NPS would like to cut, Hamilton said.

“If the money were available we would recommend that none of these reductions be made…. The Board does need to make some tough decisions,” he said.

The potential cuts stem from the rising cost of health care. The city’s funding of the NPS budget assumed that NPS employees would accept a transfer to a state health insurance plan, Connecticut Partnership 2.0. The Norwalk Federation of Teachers refused; Hamilton’s proposed cuts assume that other bargaining groups will get onboard as the year progresses.

NPS is “still very much in negotiation with other bargaining groups,” with a reasonable expectation that the other unions will switch to Connecticut Partnership 2.0, Hamilton said.

NFT President Mary Yordon questioned that, after the meeting.

“It is curious that we did put a proposal on the table,” Yordon said to NancyOnNorwalk. “We did have a proposal. They rejected that. They said they appeared to be prioritizing contract negotiations in 2019 and whatever theoretical difficulties we might face in 2019 over layoffs today. Those priorities don’t seem correct to me.”

“I am not going to talk about any ongoing negotiations,” Meek said when asked about that, but added, “They have a labor complaint filed against us so they took that off the table. We wanted to be where we wanted to be.”

Hamilton’s requested budget cut of $1,992,000 is substantially lower than what has been discussed previously. The cut was previously described as $6.6 million, but Hamilton said Thursday that the numbers were better than expected.

Health benefit claims improved, and savings from the other unions are factored in to the requested cut, he said.

As Hamilton rattled off the list of possible cuts, he said that closing the Pathways Academy at Briggs would save the BoE $690,000.

“And mess up a lot of kids,” an adult in the audience said.

Briggs students attended the meeting; there was a Briggs protest in front of City Hall last week.

Meek said after the meeting that the protest was not a factor in the consensus developed by the Board.

He did not allow public comment at the fast meeting.

“I didn’t think it was fair to the rest of the Board members to entertain public comments here,” he said.

The reported consensus includes a cut Hamilton described as the “least painful”: eliminating the rest of a surplus that had been built into each school’s budget.

Each school had been asked to keep 1 percent of their budget in reserve, to allow for possible enrollment changes. The BoE had already removed some of that from the budget, and the consensus would take out the remaining 69 percent, putting $540,000 back into the pot.

“Quite painful” would be cutting magnet school funding by $250 per pupil.

“We would hope not,” Hamilton said. “… That goes right to the heart of our strategic operating plan.”

That cut is not currently a preferred option.

Eliminating all 43 kindergarten aides provides an estimated savings of $1.23 million. The cut of Brookside pre-school teachers would save $42,000.

About $300,000 in unemployment costs offsets some of that reduction, Hamilton said.

The NHS pool transfer provides $50,000 to the planned cuts.

“The pool primarily serves a private swim team as well as various Recreation ‘learn to swim’ programs and so on. That option would essentially get the district out of the business of operating the pool,” Hamilton said.

The Board has not chosen to cut three middle school world language teachers nor 3.5 middle school teachers in family and consumer science and tech ed.

“I have been very involved in adding to our world language programs in middle school so really would not want to support reducing that, reversing that trend,” Committee member Mike Barbis said.

Discontinuing middle school music lessons means that two teaching positions would be cut, a savings of $192,000. Eliminating middle school intramural sports would save $125,000.

The consensus includes the elimination of teacher stipends for a total $81,000 savings. Recommended for a cut is $75,000 in redesign funds for operations and curriculum; “other Central Office reductions” are recommended for a $44,000 reduction.

Not on the list is a proposed elimination of “one chief position and administrative assistant,” which would cut $290,000.

Also not recommended is the elimination of three elementary level AT teachers and four middle school AT teachers, estimated to save $700,000.

“I think we are all committed to AT,” Barbis said, commenting that one of his children is a product of that system.

Committee members looked unhappy and uncomfortable as the meeting started.

“This is not an easy place to be in,” Erik Anderson said, after Meek read off the list of recommended cuts. “…My hope is that as time passes, if we are able to recoup some of these funds we can reinstate some of these things. There are no easy answers. I do support the painful cuts that we are putting forward tonight.”

Barbis asked Hamilton about the timing of staggered shifts to the insurance plan.

“To reverse cuts we would really have to be in the position to move very quickly with the entire district,” Hamilton said.

If all the bargaining groups shifted to Connecticut Partnership 2.0 by Sept. 1, “I think there would be some prospect to reversing some of this,” Hamilton said.

“Some of these things we would rather not be doing but our choices are limited and we have to cut somewhere,” Barbis said. “…I can live with the list that you have proposed.”

Meek said he has two children in kindergarten and is making the move with a heavy heart.

“We are all affected by this,” Meek said. “It stinks. There is no other way to slice through it.”



Original story: 

NORWALK, Conn. — A consensus has been reached on cutting nearly $2 million from the 2017-18 Norwalk Public Schools operating budget, Board of Education Finance Committee Chairman Bryan Meek said Thursday.

The list includes cutting kindergarten aides as well as two Brookside Elementary School teachers, closing the Norwalk High School pool, eliminating private music lessons and middle school intramural sports. Spared in this scenario is the elimination of the Pathways Academy at Briggs.

Meek said the BoE is 80-90 percent in agreement of these cuts, drawn from a $4.7 million shopping list of possible cuts presented by Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton to the Finance Committee.

The potential cuts stem from the rising cost of health care. The city’s funding of the NPS budget assumed that NPS employees would accept a transfer to a state health insurance plan, Connecticut 2.0. The Norwalk Federation of Teachers has refused; Hamilton’s proposed cuts assume that other bargaining groups will get onboard as the year progresses.

NFT President Mary Yordon questioned that, after the meeting, pointing out that the BoE is negotiating with other unions on the health insurance proposal but refused the NFT’s offer, to accept the switch provided that the teachers’ current contract is extended.

Meek said in response that the NFT has filed a labor complaint, preventing further negotiation.

Hamilton’s requested budget cut of $1,992,000 is substantially lower than what has been discussed previously. The cut was previously described as $6.6 million, but Hamilton said Thursday that the numbers were better than expected.

This story will be updated.

Boe cuts 06-08-17


MarjorieM June 8, 2017 at 8:57 pm

Isn’t this the year that Adamowski gets up to $75,000 in a bonus from the Board? That’s in addition to his salary and other benefits?

Rick McQuaid June 8, 2017 at 10:46 pm

Let’s finally be honest, pool will not close…BOE returning it to the city to save $50,000. Wait a second doesnt Zeus swimming and other programs pay you close to $50,000 in rental? I believe it’s now a proposed loss. Also when you return something aren’t you suppose to return it in same condition you received it? Pool has not been maintained in years, and city should demand it be returned in condition it was given to BOE. Kindergarten aides, spend a day in a Kindergarten room. I have many times. Sometimes first experience for a child into learning. Love, teaching, safe place, meals and a place they are to feel wanted. All twenty children or more at one time. Teachers and aides are the cornerstone of a child’s first experience to their future. BOE ‘s fight with Teachers Union should not be at expenses of children

Dreya M June 8, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Adamowski does give a hoot about Norwalk, he came here to suck Norwalk dry just like the rest of those Superintendents in the past….I would not be surprisedif he leaves soon and we have to pay ANOTHER person a pension! Smh

Nancy Chapman June 9, 2017 at 2:32 am

Dr. Adamowski’s contract includes an incentive plan, by which the BoE could grant a performance bonus based upon an evaluation of school progress. I am told that the maximum bonus would likely be $14,000.

Susan Wallerstein June 9, 2017 at 6:16 am

@Dreya school districts do not pay – or even contribute to – certified educators’ PENSIONS.

Really?! June 9, 2017 at 6:16 am

Let me get this straight… Collectively, the teachers union and the board AGREED to a 3 year contract last year…

Today; that contract that was signed and agreed upon by everyone is no good, and because the teachers don’t want to lose what EVERYONE just agreed was OK just ONE year ago, the most valuable resources we have will be cut.

I don’t begrudge the teachers, because if the board can bully them on this issue (that the board JUST AGREED WAS OK ONE YEAR AGO), who says they wont bully the teachers on other issues?

Also, cutting kindergarten aides!? Is this really 2017? Is this really what you think is best when you have a superintendent receiving a BONUS while everything is slashed and cut? I feel horrible for any incoming parent who is now being told their son/daughter doesn’t matter, but hey, lets give the super a bonus for “closing that gap”

Glad that “Nationwide” search for the super produced such great results. Time to move out of Norwalk. What is my tax money really paying for? Maybe we should call Norwalk Bridge-Walk, or Nor-port because that’s what the schools are turning into.

Lisa Thomson June 9, 2017 at 6:29 am

These cuts are due to one thing and one thing only – the refusal by the NFT leadership to change insurance carriers. This is a math exercise. Teaching staff need to hold their leadership accountable.

Dreya M June 9, 2017 at 7:18 am

Susan does it really matter who pays it? Check Norwalk’s past in Superintendents…they come, get the money, and run!! It needs to stop!!!

Al Bore June 9, 2017 at 7:22 am

Instead of cutting programs that hurt the students, cut out the union employees, teachers, and administrators that are the problem because they want and want more from the already burdened taxpayers of Norwalk. Start cutting at the top and don’t stop till you work your way down these people are nothing less than selfish. Too bad the don’t put this much energy into making the school system into a top notch school district instead of one of the lowest in the state. Shame on all of you.

Sue Haynie June 9, 2017 at 7:52 am

@Lisa Thomson, ditto and worth repeating. “These cuts are due to one thing and one thing only – the refusal by the NFT leadership to change insurance carriers. This is a math exercise.”

NonPartisan June 9, 2017 at 8:08 am

Charter schools

Employees receive benefits commensurate with their performance and market conditions.

No unions

More money goes into the classroom

Drewt June 9, 2017 at 8:20 am

So wait it’s Adomowski’s fault because he has an inventive in his contract?! Give me a break and JUST STOP THE BS ALREADY. As Lisa , Sue myself and many, many others have said. ALL OF THESE CUTS COULD BE AVOIDED! Repeat could be AVOIDED if the NFT just very simply switches over their Health Plan..They won’t loose anything! The CHILDREN WIN! Actually EVERYONE WINS! But the Ego’s are just toning it seems at the NFT so the children are made to suffer. SHAME ON THE NFT! We still have time to make the change and STOP the Nightmare that is coming!

Sarah Waters June 9, 2017 at 9:48 am

@ NonPartisan Promoting charter schools is certainly partisan, and does not necessarily mean better teachers nor does it mean more money to the classrooms. In fact, for many charter schools it is exactly the opposite. Look at the record on many charter schools.

In addition to the math lesson is the lesson on insurance, risk, competitive markets. Since it seems very unlikely there will be achieve national health care, health insurance is a competitive market. A great way to decrease health care costs is to increase the number covered in the group and thereby increase bargaining power. This sounds to me like the reason the proposed/rejected plan is less expensive. Sometimes less is more.

Al Bore June 9, 2017 at 9:56 am

I blame the dummies in Norwalk’s executive staff that negotiate these stupid contracts in the first place, stop the union madness. Remember a failed school system is what we pay for!! Why.

Al Bore June 9, 2017 at 10:06 am

Correction the people are not dummies however the contracts are and should never be agreed to in the first place.

false dichotomy June 9, 2017 at 11:12 am

You know who defends spending money on AT? People who get to throw in an aside that their kid tested into it. But AT has no value (or negative value) for the 80% of kids who don’t participate. This is a public school system – if the AT content is better, provide it to all the kids.

Victor Cavallo June 9, 2017 at 11:50 am

Bravo Lisa! I don’t know how Yordon and the NFT can sleep at night knowing that they are SERIOUSLY compromising our kids’ education.

Lisa Thomson June 9, 2017 at 12:17 pm

@ Al Bore Perhaps you noticed – these collective bargaining contracts are a state-wide problem with politicians historically giving taxpayer money away in exchange for votes. To our BOEs credit, there has been an active attempt to shift the pendulum back to student programs and taxpayers over the years. However, it take time with each three year contract, and when there is an impasse, state arbitrators rule things down the middle or often have sided with the unions. However, taxing people to death to pay for collective bargaining agreements isn’t working in Connecticut, as businesses and the wealthy leave.

MarjorieM June 9, 2017 at 12:56 pm

“Too bad the don’t put this much energy into making the school system into a top notch school district instead of one of the lowest in the state. ” -Al Bore

Nothing like bashing your school system in order to attract great teachers! 😡
Al Bore, in case you didn’t notice, Norwalk has many low socioeconomic status folks living here. Research indicates that students from low socioeconomic groups come to school with smaller vocabularies and fewer real world experiences. Vocabulary is the single best indicator for achievement in reading. You can bet that the preschoolers in the surrounding “W” towns come to school with not only vocabularies and experiences, but also with knowledge of mathematical concepts as well. The “W” students come with a wealth of knowledge, whereas Norwalk teachers have to take many students from 0 to 6 in a short period of time. They work extremely hard to do this, in fact much harder than their neighboring teachers. Are there a few here and there who need to be evaluated and removed? Of course! This is true in any work environment.
We live in a society that loves to complain without researching the facts, and that refers to all topics. I support our teachers and our school system. You have all heard me complain about our BoE and the commenters here who behave as the “know it alls” of Education. Most of them have never taught in a classroom. Most of the complainers have no background in researching Basic education theory. Some regal us with what looks like research, but neglect to look into both sides of the studies they Google. Googling does not give you the right to operate on a patient, drill a tooth, diagnose a sociopath, etc., then why should it give you the right to tell professional teachers what to do?
Off my soapbox…….for now. 🤐

Patrick Cooper June 9, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Don’t you just love it when the righteous are so ridiculous. The irony. Norwalk’s own “Education Expert” and {…} @MarjorieM says,

“We live in a society that loves to complain without researching the facts” – and yet – she kicks off this post with:

“Isn’t this the year that Adamowski gets up to $75,000 in a bonus from the Board? That’s in addition to his salary and other benefits?”

And our beloved reporter Nancy Chapmen provides us with THE FACTS:

“the BoE could grant a performance bonus based upon an evaluation of school progress. I am told that the maximum bonus would likely be $14,000”

Now Marj is well known for her hatred of all things central office – and a protector of the status quo. She’s knocked our excellent Superintendent Adamowski at every turn, but never thinks to out the Administrator turd-blossoms.

Anyone with more than 6 months on NON knows to all but ignore Marj because she is factually bankrupt, brings an agenda (thus the nome de plume), and ad’s nothing to the discourse. She’s like Faux news. It’s why Mike Lyons doesn’t answer her fishing twists anymore. {…}
Editor’s note, June 14: this comment has been edited to conform with the comments policy, which prohibits insulting other commenters.

NonPartisan June 9, 2017 at 7:24 pm

@sarah Walters

Believing that the municipal employee unions are taking more than their fair share does not make me partisan. It makes me fiscally responsible and open to new ideas.

I have witnessed first hand how the increase in the number of charter schools have directly impacted the education opportunities in NYC. I have witnessed how an ever growing number of students are given a choice, and how ( combined with technology and parental participation) more and more children are given a better education.

I have witnessed firsthand how competition has raised all boats and made union teachers more accountable and more willing to go the extra mile- like so many of us do in the private sector.

That doesn’t make me partisan. That makes me a reasonable well informed adult.

Susan Wallerstein June 9, 2017 at 8:11 pm

@Dreya M. Yes, accurate information (as opposed to alternative facts) matters.

MarjorieM June 9, 2017 at 11:29 pm

Patrick Cooper, I think we need to see Adamowski’s contract. According to everything I’ve heard (from reliable sources), there is a bonus for staying three years in Norwalk. My sources may be wrong, but I would like to see the contract. When Corda was superintendent, the NFT won the case to allow the superintendent’s contract to be published. Nancy, would you mind publishing his contract? I would like to settle this. Thank you.

Steve Colarossi June 12, 2017 at 3:06 pm

How can all the self-described open government advocates overlook one of the most glaring admissions from the article- that BoE Finance Cmt. Chairman Bryan Meek privately circulated the “cut list” to obtain “consensus” rather than present it to the public for review and comment? The fact that the public was denied the right to speak out on these cuts is telling as to the true motivations behind those who support hurting students in order to punish teachers.

Certainly the Board of Education had a choice- engage the public to seek input on other areas of reduction or steer the public into believing that a group other than the Norwalk BoE and its superintendent is at fault for the current budget crisis. Sadly, rather than trying to solve our problems, the BoE has reveled in telling us who to blame.

However, it was the BoE that negotiated the current teachers’ contract (and who praised their “fiscal responsibility” at that time). It was the BoE that drew down from the Insurance Fund (that exists to meet expenses from the insurance program) (claiming that excess funds were available for special education improvements). And it was the BoE that hid the severity of this self-inflicted budget crisis only to find itself in the 11th hour attempting to implement cuts that will be damaging to our children’s education.

Their time would have been better spent over the past two years on fewer self-congratulatory press releases and more on anticipating the future financial stressors on the schools’ budget.

But that process would require some measure of honesty with the public which is far more challenging than telling us who to blame.

Steve Colarossi June 13, 2017 at 8:49 am

Can it possibly be that the Finance Committee Chairperson thinks that privately circulating a list of budget cuts in order to obtain a consensus among BoE members is good government?
If one reads the agenda for last week’s Finance Committee meeting there was a general reference to the 2017-2018 budget. But there was not even the hint of any detail as to what was or was not going to be cut. Worse, the decision as to what to cut had already been reached because the cut list had been circulating among BoE members.
The public was denied any meaningful opportunity to contribute to the debate as to possible cuts. In fact, the public was NOT ALLOWED to speak at the Finance Committee meeting.
A lack of competent oversight over the budget process is now compounded with secrecy.
If these actions do not violate the letter of the state’s open meeting law, they certainly violate the spirit.

Bryan Meek June 13, 2017 at 9:14 am

No. We acted in good faith to balance a budget and avoid a deep financial crisis, unlike past boards. The list of cuts was made public at the correct time and comments are welcome and appropriate at the full board meeting. Bar certified attorneys have provided guidance on handling sensitive personnel matters, not one’s who have had their license status in question, nor one’s who have other personal financial interests in the district’s affairs.

Bryan Meek June 13, 2017 at 9:16 am

Oh and Steve, if your wife confronting me in front of my children doesn’t violate harassment laws, it certainly violates decent taste. I ask for nothing in my time as a volunteer, but I expect more from those who are making fantastic salaries paid for by taxpayers.

Steve Colarossi June 13, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Those who recall last spring’s debacle when Finance Committee Chairperson Meek felt obligated to defend a “privatization” program that was more costly than the public program it sought to replace, will see the same pattern of distraction, disdain and distortion. Then, as now, he offers a lie and insult about my wife rather than answer criticism directed at his disdain for public preschool education. Mr. Meek’s behavior would be shocking if only it was not part of a lengthy pattern of mocking those who dare to disagree with him.

He has no defense for hiding the budget cut list until the time of his last Finance Committee meeting. He has no defense for forbidding public comment at his meeting. The fact that he bemoans not being appreciated as a volunteer gives rise to the speculation that avoiding criticism must motivate him.

He has no defense for issuing a vague agenda that did not reference any specific areas of cuts that would be considered at that meeting.

He has no defense for his appalling lack of oversight when he supported drawing down the BoE’s insurance fund last year only to cry this year that insufficient funds exist in the account.

Yet, rather than learn by his frequent blunders, Mr. Meek wants to recount the sins of others to excuse his shortcomings. Now, he can attack me, distort my public service and continue to bully his way through public debate as he has for years. But, he goes too far offering the lie that he was “accosted” by my wife. Those who know her and have worked with her appreciate Jen’s limitless patience in nurturing her young students and calmly contending with their occasionally petulant behavior. Therefore, she is someone ideally suited to overlook Mr. Meek’s similar outbursts.

And, just as an aside, spend a little less time googling your critics and more time studying the BoE budget so that you might be able to avoid the draconian cuts to children’s education you have supported.

Isabelle Hargrove June 13, 2017 at 8:20 pm

It is really disheartening to see the venom spewed at the board for cuts they have no choice but to make.

People are barking at the wrong tree. And some seemingly to protect their personal turf.

Bryan Meek June 14, 2017 at 1:21 am

Steve, if you don’t like it, run for the BOE again. You can retry your cupcake ban, resume your old position as chair of Finance and run the city into the ground again like you did before. Go for it. I’d only ask one thing. I would appreciate if your team leave my children alone when expressing your frustration with the system.

Steve Colarossi June 14, 2017 at 5:49 am

Once again, rather than address the merits of why he supports double-digit budget increases for administration while deciminating kinddrgarten children’s classrooms, Bryan Meek forgets that he’s not a child on a school playground but is supposed to be protecting the children.
As someone who has brought a profound ability to nod in agreement with his administrator & political handlers, he is certainly free to tout the advatanages of the insurance account shortfall he’s created.
Of course, some might question why Mr.Meek, even with record City generosity to increase the school dept budget, needs to now recommend cutting kindergarten aides & music programs to balance the budget.
The fact that my BOE service during the depths of the recession was highlighted by finding millions of dollars in waste and mismanagement which saved classroom programs is if little import now except to highlight the depths of dishonesty he will stoop to avoid taking responsibility for his blunders and lack of budgetary oversight.

Bryan Meek June 14, 2017 at 7:30 am

Steve, this was the most transparent and open budgeting process ever in the city’s history. Every needed expenditure was laid out. You have me confused for your tenure as board finance chair where indeed you did have secret unbalanced budgets like in 2012 after years of your stewardship of draining away the insurance fund. Your argument has no merits because you always conveniently leave out the fact that you have a financial stake in the system. Like the time you were on the BOE and wore and NFT tee shirt to the NHS gym to rally for a deficit you helped create, again here you are trying to protect your own fat.

Debora Goldstein June 14, 2017 at 8:05 am

The argument between Mr. Meek and Mr. Colarossi appears to be getting quite personal, and has deviated from the opinions around the policy.

Sometimes elected officials are accosted by angry citizens. Sometimes those citizens are even wrong on the facts. It doesn’t matter. Members of the public are not supported by paid staff to help them understand the finer details. Members of the public are motivated by how policies affect them. Any elected official who feels that they are entitled to be protected from public comment should not be in office. (Unless it really is threats or harassment.)

What should NEVER happen is the reverse. Elected officials should never engage in insulting, disparaging and ridiculing those private citizens. Listen to them, and move on.

The fact that the work is hard, and we get paid little or nothing to do it, does not accord us immunity from criticism–indeed, suggesting the opposite–that only if we were paid (a lot) to do this should we be criticized is a distasteful proposition. Public service is hard, and often thankless, work. If it isn’t rewarding on the basis of serving the public, then the simple solution is not to run for office (as 97% of the population chooses).

Debora Goldstein June 14, 2017 at 10:00 am

For the record, this notion that there are “sensitive personnel matters” that are somehow exemptions, exceptions or exclusions from public disclosure is not subject to a standard of what feels like “sensitive” or “private”.

Emails which discussed cuts to a BOE budget affecting employees the configuration and services to the public ARE public records.

In this case, they were discussed in emails among a quorum of the committee. They ceased to be drafts once the proposal was no longer subject to revision before being put to the body for a vote. They were not a personnel review of an individual who could opt to be discussed in public. They were not pursuant to a labor contract negotiation. They weren’t a personnel search committee for an executive level employee.

Lists of proposed cuts to a publicly managed department are exactly the kinds of things that the public should see and be able to weigh in on. There is no requirement for public participation at a public meeting, but it is really poor form to abuse the public for wanting or expecting that there be some. (judge for yourself):

Sec. 1-200. (Formerly Sec. 1-18a). Definitions.
(1) “Public agency” or “agency” means: (A) Any executive, administrative or legislative office of the state or any political subdivision of the state and any…department…of…any city, town, borough, municipal corporation, school district…including any committee of, or created by, any such…department,…board, commission, authority or official,…

(2) “Meeting” means any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency,…and any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.
“Meeting” does not include: Any meeting of a personnel search committee for executive level employment candidates;…strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining;…a caucus of members of a single political party notwithstanding that such members also constitute a quorum of a public agency;…

(6) “Executive sessions” means a meeting of a public agency at which the public is excluded for one or more of the following purposes: (A) Discussion concerning the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, provided that such individual may require that discussion be held at an open meeting;…(E) discussion of any matter which would result in the disclosure of public records or the information contained therein described in subsection (b) of section 1-210.

(7) “Personnel search committee” means a body appointed by a public agency, whose sole purpose is to recommend to the appointing agency a candidate or candidates for an executive-level employment position. Members of a “personnel search committee” shall not be considered in determining whether there is a quorum of the appointing or any other public agency.

Sec. 1-210. (Formerly Sec. 1-19). Access to public records. Exempt records. (a) Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. Any agency rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights granted by this subsection shall be void. Each such agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place and, if there is no such office or place of business, the public records pertaining to such agency shall be kept in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which such public agency is located or of the Secretary of the State, as the case may be. Any certified record hereunder attested as a true copy by the clerk, chief or deputy of such agency or by such other person designated or empowered by law to so act, shall be competent evidence in any court of this state of the facts contained therein.

(b) Nothing in the Freedom of Information Act shall be construed to require disclosure of:

(1) Preliminary drafts or notes provided the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure;

(9) Records, reports and statements of strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining;

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivisions (1) and (16) of subsection (b) of this section, disclosure shall be required of:

(1) Interagency or intra-agency memoranda or letters, advisory opinions, recommendations or any report comprising part of the process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated, except disclosure shall not be required of a preliminary draft of a memorandum, prepared by a member of the staff of a public agency, which is subject to revision prior to submission to or discussion among the members of such agency;

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