Canton CT Board Of Education Funding

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I have been asked to create this petition based on the article that I wrote on Facebook about the Canton CT BOE budget.  Emails DO NOT go into public record and are not considered, so the hope is that a petition with enough signatures can influence our elected officials as we know attendance is very difficult at BOF meetings.

We have two specific asks listed below:

1) attendance (if possible) at the next meeting, which is April 23, 7 PM at the Community Center and

2) people to stand up and ask for the board to reverse its decision to cut the BOE budget and invest in education.

Original Memo is below for reference:

I am normally not outspoken about Politics but I just listened to the Canton CT budget work shop that took place on 4/2/18 and I am absolutely flabbergasted at the lack of consideration for public comment and sentiment for the Board of Education (BOE) budget. I sat in a number of BOE meetings this year and never heard any public comment on cutting funding. I also sat in the Board of Finance meeting where the budgets were proposed. Many residents stood up and advocated for additional funding to maintain a 4th grade teacher at CIS as well as advocating for more funding for other programs, janitors, athletics, etc…… The opposition to cutting a 4th grade teacher was described as “a few upset parents”. I whole heartedly disagree with that interpretation of the public sentiment. The Board of Finance seemingly completely ignored the comments made at the Board of Finance meeting and the previously held Board of Education meetings and instead of maintaining or increasing funding they proposed an additional $90k in cuts to the BOE operating budget. There was more discussion about a mini-excavator that was wanted than there was about the cutting of a 4th grade teacher!!!!!

It was brought up many times that this is a tough financial year because the town isn't growing at the same rate or even at all. This is the same thing we have heard year over year, at some point if we want new families to move to town we need to re-invest in the schools.

It was stated that it was “Tone Deaf” to reinvest in town athletics at this time, but my assertion is that the Board of Finance is Tone Deaf, essentially ignoring public opinion. We never heard public comment on cutting the BOE budget, all of the comments were on increased funding, but the Board of Finance ignored all of the commentary and the history of commentary as the budget was being formed.

The next Board of Finance meeting is is April 23rd at 7PM at the community center. Maybe I am the only one upset by this but I doubt it. I unfortunately cannot attend because of a business trip but I wanted to encourage others that are potentially as upset as we are to attend and voice opposition.

The last point Ill make is that the Board of Finance described excess revenue projections of about $500k in this fiscal year. Special education costs were about $300k higher than expected but revenue was up $800k above costs leaving a $500k surplus that is being applied to the balance of the fund. It should also be noted that the fund doesn’t need this additional money as we already have an excellent rating for our municipal bonds. This means we are cutting school funding while increasing “reserve funding” in what is being called a very tough financial year for the schools. My recommendation is that the $500k be put back into our schools as an investment, keep the 4th grade teacher, Fund Athletics, maybe even kick in the last $50k for the lights and show the residents that the town cares about young families and it’s school system. I for one am tired of the cuts, our kids need more and our town officials need to do their duty and listen to the public.

I lean fiscally conservative, but the Town cannot continue to try and keep the tax rate low by taking it out on our children. We need to focus on growth and become business friendly and easy to work with to attract new and sustainable tax revenue not just cut.

I fully understand that many people who are troubled by this cut of a 4th grade teacher and the growing trend of not prioritizing the town education budget are unable to make these meetings. The main reason that I am writing this is to encourage others to voice their thoughts in either support or opposition. This is just one way of looking at things, there are many others I am sure. I wont be personally offended if people tell me if I am wrong or voice their disagreement with this post. Public debate is good, it gives us the opportunity to come up with solutions leveraging the extensive experience of our town residents. Please share as you see fit, the broader the audience the better the discussion.