Darien BOE approves $340K in additional cuts from 2012-13 budget
The Board of Education unanimously passed a recommendation made by Superintendent Stephen Falcone Tuesday night to cut $340,000 from the 2012-13 budget. This came after the Representative Town Meeting passed a school budget that was less than the initial proposal made by the BOE in May.
"Just as review," Falcone said, "I proposed an $80.59 million budget. The board recommended an $80.324 million budget. The RTM adopted a $79.983 million budget. We are going to meet (the RTM) budget in June of 2013."
Items with cuts included maintenance, heating oil, medical benefits and technology. Special education, however, faced the most extensive cuts, according to the recommendations Falcone presented at the meeting.
"We looked at some of the numbers in terms of special education," he said. "We've done some reorganization, which would allow us to trim two paraprofessionals."
Falcone also included the monetary equivalent of half a therapist to be cut from the personnel budget for special education, although he told the BOE he didn't want them to think of this as a particular employee.
Based on trend lines, Falcone said, there would be modest reorganization resulting in savings on legal affairs. Additionally, "We adjusted our consultant legal fees downward to put our pupil evaluation up," he said. "That is almost a wash."
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BOE Vice Chairman Clara Sartori raised an issue brought up earlier in the meeting by Assistant Superintendent Judith Pandolfo, who said Holmes, Ox Ridge and Tokeneke elementary schools have several classes rising to a grade level that is not equipped to handle the amount of incoming students.
"We have not budgeted for 1.5 of the teachers that we might possibly need," Sartori said.
"[One and a half] or more," Falcone said. "We're going to manage to the budget. Where that comes from we'd have to look at down the road."
Sartori also said she wants the BOE to be clear with the public about what decisions are being made in case last minute changes have to be approved by the board.
"Pretty much anything can be on the table," BOE member Morgan Whittier said. "Everyone should always be aware that commitment is always first to classroom teachers on the first level. That, we will definitely fund."
Chairman Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross added, "At this point Mr. Whittier is correct. This is the best guess we have at this point in time as to how we can move forward with this budget and get the equipment and supplies and teachers and everything else we need to open our doors on Aug. 31."
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