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Norwalk BOE still forced to wait and see

NORWALK, Conn. – You would think that, with a budget plan worked out by the Connecticut legislature, the Norwalk Board of Education might have some idea of what is coming its way.

Guess again.

“Still no word from Hartford,” BOE Finance Committee Chairman Mike Barbis said in an email Sunday night. “We are on the edge of our seat.”

The state Senate on Monday gave final passage to a two-year, $37.6 billion budget which moves $6 billion in Medicare spending out from under the spending cap, CTNewsJunkie reports.

House Minority Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) called the budget a story that amounts to “fiction” in the video posted above.

“We’re still making this up as we go along,” he said. “We’re still inching forward. We’re putting it together with duct tape and Band-Aids, a little spit and glue. So much so that to fill holes we’re relying on things like Keno, things that we haven’t even studied.”

On Monday night BOE Chairman Mike Lyons said all he had heard regarding state funding coming to Norwalk was “just speculation.”

“Some legislator told the (Hartford) Courant they won’t be taking away the municipal funds,” he said in an email. “If true, that might mean we’d get $1.45 million back, but when it comes to the state, my position is ‘show me the money.’  Until I see it in a line item, I’m not counting on it.”

When Norwalk officials learned that the governor’s proposed budget included redefining some state grants to direct the funds toward education, they pulled an equal amount – $1.45 million – out of the proposed 2013-2014 BOE operating budget.

Lyons said he had been in touch with state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton) and Barbis had been contacting state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). He still had no information.

“The leadership is keeping this close to the vest — rank and file members haven’t seen it yet,” he said.

BOE members have been waiting for word from the state and have not wasted time discussing a budget without knowing what they have to work with.

Board of Estimate and Taxation Chairman Fred Wilms said recently that the city will work with the BOE if the state grants that have been promised cannot be used in a way that will help the BOE fulfill the plan it has mapped out to begin rebuilding after $6 million was cut from Superintendent Susan Marks proposed operating budget last year, resulting in the loss of library aides at the schools, as well as other positions.

The BOE must reconcile its 2012-2013 budget and solidify its 2013-2014 operating budget by July 31, by city charter.

Comments

5 responses to “Norwalk BOE still forced to wait and see”

  1. LWitherspoon

    @Nancy
    “Board of Estimate and Taxation Chairman Fred Wilms said recently that the city will work with the BOE if the state grants that have been promised cannot be used in a way that will help the BOE fulfill the plan it has mapped out to begin rebuilding after last year’s devastating cuts.”
    .
    Who is declaring last year’s cuts ‘devastating’? If you are, doesn’t that cross the line from objective reporting to unsupported opinion?
    .
    On the subject of “cuts”, did the amount of money given to Norwalk Public Schools by the taxpayers increase or decrease last year?

  2. Bruce Kimmel

    LWitherspoon: The BOE’s 2013-14 operating budget increases spending by 4.4% over current levels. That does not include the $2.1 million in capital expenses for new textbooks associated with the Common Core curriculum. In years past, textbook expenditures were in the operating budget.
    .
    By the end of this month, after state aid is factored into the Board’s final reconciled budget, and after the BET makes a final determination, we will be better able to characterize education spending. My guess is that it will be close to the original request.

  3. LWitherspoon

    @Bruce Kimmel
    .
    Thank you for that information. Do you happen to know the size of the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 operating budgets?

  4. 0ldtimer

    Lwitherspoon
    You are quick to give experienced reporters editiorial advice, but too slow to check the City website for operating budgets ? Or, are you just in the habit of asking others for facts that are published public information ? You seem to often ask for evidence of facts mentioned here by others, as if such facts are unbelievable without someone showing you evidence.

  5. @LWitherspoon
    Many people have called the cuts “devastating” but you are correct, that wasn’t worded properly. We have changed it. Also, the cuts refer to staffing cuts, not dollars. It has been well documented that the dollars go up each year.

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