What’s at Stake – By Laura Colebank

Investing in our kids’ education and town is paramount to our success as a community. The Board of Education (BOE) is to be commended for a fiscally responsible proposed 2016-’17 budget.

The BOE has done due diligence cutting the operations budget in many ways to reduce the overall increase to 0.48 percent (from 1.29 percent initially). Big cuts were made: three elementary teachers, one high school teacher, and one part-time high school health teacher. A new Eliot special education teacher and English-language learner (ELL) paraprofessional were added, paid for by grants to support ELL population. Many curriculum items were cut, including new chemistry books. What’s at stake now are programs that are essential to building critical thinking, leadership, and team building skills in the class room, in after school enrichment programs, in sports, and in the arts.

Looking at the big ticket items, salaries represent approximately 60 percent. The salary increase is just one percent. It will be difficult to attract and retain highly effective teachers and administrators at anything less. Benefits, which represent about 19 percent of budget, reflect a 6.1 percent increase. As we all know, health insurance costs have skyrocketed in recent years. Over the last few years, our administrators and BOE have worked hard to negotiate and restructure many of the components of these two crucial line items, which make up the core of education budget.

Finally, the new Morgan School, about which many of us are super excited, is on schedule and within budget, something of which the entire community should be proud.

Thanks go to the BOE.

I urge Clinton residents to educate themselves about the budgets at clintonct.org and to join me in supporting the BOE and town budgets by voting “Yes” on May 11!

Laura Colebank

Published April 20, 2016. http://www.zip06.com/letters/20160420/whatx2019s-at-stake

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