Support For Stamford Public Schools Sounds Loudly On Social Media | Stamford Moms

Among the many concerns that COVID-19 has created, we can now add budget cuts to the list.

The Stamford Board of Finance’s proposal would cut $35 million from Stamford Mayor David Martin’s 2020-2021 spending plan and the Stamford Public School budget could be cut by millions. This could mean layoffs for school employees and larger classroom sizes, just to name a few possible effects.

Stamford Public School Superintendent Dr. Tamu Lucero tells Stamford Moms, “As you know, the Board of Finance is projecting a significant revenue shortfall for next year, with the result that the Board of Finance is considering recommending an appropriation to the Board of Education for next year that provides no increase over the current year. Limiting the appropriation in that way would require that we reduce expenditures next year by some $15,000,000 from what we requested. Such reductions would profoundly affect all members of the Stamford Public Schools community.  Accordingly, we have reached out to all four of the Board of Education bargaining units to discuss whether we can come up with alternative ways to reduce expenditures next year. At this point, however, neither the Board of Finance nor the Board of Education has taken any final action on the 2020-2021 budget.”

She continues, “Ultimately, the final decision on which programs or positions to cut is the decision of the Board of Education during the reallocation process. That process will take place after the Board of Finance and Board of Representatives vote on the final City and Board of Education Budgets.”

Meanwhile, the response on social media has been loud. A Facebook page called Save Stamford Schools now has more than 2,300 members. There is also an online petition that will be sent to the Board of Finance and a packet of letters sent to the Board of Finance. That’s all in addition to a drive-by protest outside the Stamford Government Center on Thursday.

The message? Don’t make our children and teachers suffer any more than they already have.

Maria DeVito organized the Facebook page and petition. She says she created the page because, “I wanted to create a public platform for Board of Finance members to look to in order to fully understand the sentiment in the community regarding this issue. Thirty minutes at the beginning of various meetings, a couple times a week, was just not enough time for the community to be heard.”

Maria explains, “Stamford schools have evolved exponentially in the past two decades. The district prides itself in its ability to engage advanced students while still intervening for those who need increased supports. Without the ability to intervene with added supports such as personalized goals, alternate assessments, or increased monitoring, students get lost in the shuffle as the achievement gap widens. The schools have math and reading supports, assistants to work with students one-on-one, additional staff who can coordinate with families, helping students learn to regulate behavior that could otherwise undermine the learning process.”

Kate Tobin is an English teacher at Westhill High School (where she also graduated) and Stamford Education Association Secretary. She says, “What makes this district so special IS the teachers. And how many of them WERE a product of Stamford Public Schools and return to teach in it. Because we had great teachers, and we were inspired to come back and try to be them. That is what makes this district special, and that is what this district stands to lose.”

Richard Freedman, Chairman of the Board of Finance tells Stamford Moms, “Our expectation is that the City will have a large shortfall in tax collections and other revenue due to the pandemic. The only way to make up for lost revenue is to cut expenses in the budget. There is no other solution. The Board of Finance also does not want to see mass layoffs in the schools and, towards that end, school district employees have been asked to forego their raises. They have not been asked for a reduction in pay. It’s a reasonable request given an unemployment rate of 20% in Connecticut plus another 25% of households who’ve had a reduction in income.”

“We’re in unprecedented circumstances, as everyone knows, and we sincerely hope that all parties can work towards a common solution,” he continues.

The deadline for the Board of Finance to set the budget is on Thursday, when it will hold a special budget meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Residents can attend the meeting by going to: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4695567068145102096, webinar ID: 775-517-595
or by dialing 415.655.0060, access code: 248-723-368.

You can join the Save Stamford Schools Facebook Page here.
You can sign the online petition here.

 

 

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