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City should fund our 4.6% operating budget increase request

In January, the Board of Education approved the Superintendent’s 2021-22 Operating Budget request. At the time the Board was required to submit its budget request to the City, the State had not yet developed its insurance rates for the coming year.

This week, new information has been confirmed about expected health insurance costs for 2021-22, one of the largest drivers of next year’s projected budget increase. Preliminary rate projections now have been developed by the State that will reduce our projected health insurance budget request by $2,053,824.  With this revised insurance projection, the total budget increase necessary to fund the FY 2021-22 recommended operating budget for Norwalk Public Schools would decline to 4.6%.

In addition to funding the rise in health insurance costs for all employees, this modest increase would provide the funding necessary for our school district to:

  • Cover a 7% increase to staff priority needs and meet contractual obligations to teachers, paraeducators, administrators, custodians, nurses and other critical staff.
  • Support the compelling need to mitigate learning loss resulting from the Covid global public health crisis.
  • Maintain the progress that Norwalk Public Schools has made in providing local services for students with disabilities, instead of transporting children to other towns.
  • Continue offering program improvements that NPS has made in areas such as Gifted & Talented, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), dual-language education, choice programs and pathways, and more.
  • Fund the resources needed to reduce disproportionality and provide equity in education for the benefit of all students.

 

While the school district is pleased to learn that additional funding is available from the CARES Act under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, those funds have restricted uses and are not allowed to replace local budget funds.

High quality schools contribute to a rise in home values, support the workforce needs of local companies, attract new businesses and residents, and contribute to the overall quality of life. Norwalk Public Schools has made great strides in building a school district recognized as the most successful city school district in the state. With the challenges of COVID still impacting our students, this a critical year for providing appropriate levels of school funding.

On behalf of the children and families of Norwalk, we respectfully request that the City of Norwalk fully fund the Board of Education’s revised budget request of a 4.6% increase.

11 comments

Bobby Lamb February 14, 2021 at 9:54 pm

You just admitted you padded your budget by at least $2 million and now are getting $9 million in CARES money – and that’s before Biden’s $1.9 trillion has passed which has tons of money for local schools. Please give the tax payers a break – we’re sick of the BOEs games.

Joel February 15, 2021 at 6:43 am

I’m with Henry Dachowitz on this one. This established pattern of the B of E making annual exorbitant “asks” every year, knowing that they will be pared back, must stop. You need to learn to do more with less. Please have more consideration for the taxpayers of Norwalk.

Norwalk Native February 15, 2021 at 8:56 am

Dear Board of Education,

Let’s be very clear. When you ask the “City” to fund this 4.6% budget increase (an increase which permanently adds to the budget baseline and which follows years of double-digit increases) you are really asking those Norwalk residents who pay taxes to foot the bill. This at a time when many residents are experiencing reduced working hours, job loss or small-business bankruptcy.

Those in the Educational Industrial Complex will always try to make the connection between higher education budgets and higher quality schools; which by their logic also magically leads to higher property vaules for those of us who would never have any use for the Norwalk Public Schools. Unfortunately, the data does not support the assertion that Norwalk schools are of “high quality”, despite the fact that Norwalk has been agressively throwing money at the school system for years. According to a recent rankings report on Niche, Norwalk Schools rank 72 out of 118 in CT; hardly high quality (https://www.niche.com/k12/d/norwalk-school-district-ct/). You in the Educatonal Industrial Complex will of course rationalize and spin these rankings in a miriad of ways.

Any honest local realtor will tell you that the NPS system is a net negative for the City in terms of attracting residents and has been for a long time. Those who can afford to move out of Norwalk do so as soon as they have children of school age. The recent influx of young children to Norwalk schools is being driven almost exclusively by the City’s and State’s Sanctuary policies. Modest gains in local property values in the last 12 months are being driven by Covid related gains from New York residents temporarily moving to CT. This benefit will likely reverse soon; returning Norwalk to its long-term trend of stagnant to declining property values (the hole-in-the-donut of otherwise prosperous Fairfield County).

Neighboring towns have been flat-lining their education budgets in the face of Covid and declining enrollment (Wilton, Weston), yet their propery values continue to increase at much higher rates that the temporary increases in Norwalk. Please stop asking Norwalk taxpayers to continue to foot these unreasonable requests that do not benefit the majority Norwalk residents.

Thank you

John O'Neill February 15, 2021 at 9:52 am

Like the petulant spoiled child who whines and cries, the BOE doesn’t want to accept reality. As in parenting it’s better in the long term if the word “NO” is heard and understood.
If the Common Council or the BOE would like parenting lessons, I’ll be more than happy to pass along my wife’s contact info.

Nora King February 15, 2021 at 12:26 pm

You need to hold the mayor accountable. He has allowed the sanctuary city philosophy in this city as well as the apartments to be built ( and they do have kids – the big coverup with Rilling’s administration.) It is his policy that has driven a lot of these costs. He now needs to figure out how to pay for it without driving the middle class out of Norwalk. As a parent I fight every year for the past 12 years to fund schools, but it goes to programs that my children do not benefit from in many cases. I am really tired of it.

Need for More Data February 15, 2021 at 12:34 pm

Norwalk Board of Education Members,

Norwalk Public Schools is going to receive $9.2 million in CARES funding, which an address a host of COVID-related issues. Presumably, the need for additional staffing to address academic deficiencies resulting from distance learning is among them. If you want public support, please provide information about all of the funding sources (including, but not limited to various Title grants and state grants), so that we know just how much funding the school system will have, in addition to the city’s contribution.

As I noted in a separate posting, it is also important for the public to know just how many people are employed by the NPS, including their classifications (teacher, administrator, paraeducator, clerical worker, cafeteria or maintenance worker, etc.) and their salaries. The public should also have a comparison of this staffing for the past couple of years.

These are frightening economic times for far too many taxpayers, but a well-informed public may support your requests if taxpayers have sufficient information for them to understand the needs.

Claire Schoen February 15, 2021 at 2:07 pm

@Norwalk Native – can you quantify some of the sweeping statements you’ve made – about the influx of children being due to sanctuary city status, about people fleeing Norwalk because of poor schools, or that neighboring towns are seeing higher rates of increase in real estate values? Do you have data to support this?

NorwalkTaxpayer February 16, 2021 at 5:08 pm

@Claire Schoen
Do you really need an explanation for why its wrong to spend taxpayer money on NON citizens?

People fleeing Norwalk you only need to look at Norwalk’s bad performance on standard tests and its moron real estate and commercial strategy thinking it will attract wealthy buyers for luxury apartments. Not to mention building a mall when malls are closing.

I agree with Dachowitz’ stance but its time for Sanctuary Harry to go ——- the taxpayers cant afford it.

Claire Schoen February 16, 2021 at 10:45 pm

@NorwalkTaxpayer – Without hard data, all of these claims are just that – opinions based on hearsay and anecdotes. Unless you or others can enlighten us with numbers to support these negative statements, I’ll chalk theses comments up to someone having a bad day. I’ve lived here for 30+ years and know plenty of people who haven’t “fled” the city because of how horrible things are here.

John Miller February 16, 2021 at 11:42 pm

I’m with Joel and Henry Dachowitz on this one. It’s time to end the annual game played by the BOE and the City which ends up milking Norwalk’s already overburdened taxpayers.. it’s also time for our fearless leaders in Hartford to repeal the obscene law which says that school budgets can never be decreased from the previous yearly level. With the massive increases the BOE has received in recent years, I would encourage Mr, Dachowitz to change his latest recommendation to 0%. It’s time for the BOE to experience the same economic reality that the taxpayers who pick up the tab experience. We don’t have the benefit of being able to spend money that other people earn like the BOE does. Enough is enough.

Norwalk Native February 17, 2021 at 8:54 am

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