Back to School

25Aug14
Spending Tax Dollars 101

Spending Tax Dollars 101

Stratford public schools open for business on Thursday. Unlike any business, however, there is no BOE budget. None. The Board of Education has decided that parents, teachers, students and, oh yeah, taxpayers have no need to know how half of the tax revenue of the Town will be spent. Not a single elected member of the Board of Education or Town Council can provide any information regarding an actual budget or even whether or not one exists. This is astounding, if not illegal.

One would think that a primary function of an elected government would be to, at the very least, explain how the money they are demanding will be spent. The BOE is not a privately held corporation. It may be administered by a non-elected superintendent, but that does not relieve the BOE of the obligation to provide this information to the public. Why do we need to explain this? Apparently because the members of the Board of Education have forgotten this.

This is as bad as stealing $5.6 million from the WPCA. Hold on….maybe it’s worse. We have no idea what the BOE will do with somewhere between $97 – $101 million of our money. It makes Harkins move to extract $5.6 million from the WPCA look like petty theft.

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12 Responses to “Back to School”

  1. 1 jezebel282

    “The Stratford Board of Education voted unanimously on Monday, Aug. 25, to increase the salary of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Janet Robinson by 2.75%, or $5,087 from her current reported salary of $185,000.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/27632/school-board-raises-superintendents-salary-2-75/

    Honestly! Don’t they think we read this stuff? If we believe this number then according to last year’s budget the assistant superintendent brought home $163,355. Does anyone believe that? And if you do, can you show us where you found it? The entire BOE budget has been muddied to such an extent that it is nearly impossible to determine what a public employee’s compensation might be. What is 0.3 of an employee? 0.7? 0.5? You can guess that the 0.3 and the 0.7 are the same person, but that would be a guess wouldn’t it?

    And oh, by the way, according to the only published budget from the BOE there are two kindergarten teachers at Franklin School that split $207,093/year. Yet again, this “budget” looks as if someone wrote it on an Iphone while driving.

    “Veilleux said that the board is “pleased with the direction” in which the district is moving.”

    We have a question for Ms. Veilleux. “How would you know?”

  2. 2 mikereynolds

    Perhaps its time to station a BLS unit in Lordship like they do for Oronoque.

  3. 3 mikereynolds

    oops, sorry, commented on the wrong post.

  4. 4 jezebel282

    Update:

    Nearly a month into the new school year, the Board of Education has still not published an approved budget.

    Amazingly not a single parent has complained about this. Perhaps the Superintendent and BOE are correct in treating parents as if they were mushrooms. However, these are actual tax dollars and taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent. It a representational government “thing” and $98 million in one year is sort of a lot of money.

    To be sure, someone has changed the link title on the BOE website from “Proposed” to “Adopted” and slid in a Powerpoint presentation. But it contains all the same data as the previous version. Superintendent Robinson is still getting a $48,729 raise according to the BOE Budget. As before, the only cuts in the budget are to secretaries & custodians. Not the first places we would cut.

    So here is the problem; we’ve already received the bill for this and have paid it. We simply have no idea what we bought with it. Who is getting how much and why?

  5. 5 jezebel282

    Update:

    Schools facing space shortage; may seek more town funds
    By Elizabeth G. Howard on December 11, 2014 http://www.stratfordstar.com/31239/schools-facing-space-shortage-may-seek-more-town-funds/

    More Town funds? How would the BOE know? They have yet to publish an actual budget. No, don’t bother to look. What’s posted on the BOE website is the same proposed budget they stuck up there last March. And the numbers still don’t make any sense at all. $207,000 for two Kindergarten teachers at Franklin School? Oh please! Does any elected Board member actually read the budget?

    “for the schools in order to acquire more portable classrooms.”

    Seriously? Did the BOE forget that they closed Center School or that the “Birdseye Municipal Complex” was a school and is still nearly empty?

    “Stratford schools’ chief operating officer, Clarence Zachery, referred to his job of placing incoming students as a “shell game” as the district faces capacity classrooms, increasing special education numbers and complex monitoring of racial balancing percentages.”

    OK, what’s going on here? According to Robinson’s own numbers the enrollment is going down, not up. Enrollment on October 1, 2012. 7,171
    5-Year Enrollment Change -2.9% (http://stratfordk12.org/images/customer-files/ParentResources/SSP201213.pdf). Given the amount of “For Sale” signs up in this Town lower enrollment is far more believable.

    And while we’re at it, the District has been “racially balancing” successfully for 20 years now. Is there a sudden problem that no one knows about?

    “nonstop enrollment changes”

    This is possibly the most specious statement we’ve heard in quite a while. Of course there are nonstop enrollment changes. What school district doesn’t do that? People move in and people move out. They tend to take their children with them. We are unaware of property values in Stratford soaring because people are clamoring to move here.

    So what is really going on here? And how much of that money would go to administrator salaries and benefits instead of whatever it is they are complaining about?

  6. 6 mikereynolds

    Speaking of the number of for sale signs around town…It is quite eye opening seeing them all over town. On my daily drive up East Main St there must be 10 or 12. A bunch more on Huntington Rd. And plenty in the north end. Lots of people looking to move out of Stratford.

  7. 7 jezebel282

    Well, this gives you a good idea why that is so. Here you have an organization that is responsible for 50% of our taxes and they can’t even produce a budget. What’s worse is that they want more based on numbers that are clearly false. And, oh by the way, it’s not like they don’t have enough higher level education to be able create or read a budget.

  8. 8 mikereynolds

    I disagree. The people who are selling and moving out of Stratford aren’t doing it because of a lack of a coherent BOE budget. They’re not sitting around the kitchen table fretting that the BOE budget isn’t online and deciding, “That’s it, we’re moving!”

  9. 9 jezebel282

    It is always a problem when administrators say “Trust me.” Especially when it causes property tax to go up…again.

  10. 10 jezebel282

    Just another note because sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. The Board of Education accounts for half of our property tax bill. Half. So when we question why we in Stratford pay such a high price to live here, we can’t ignore 50% of our bill.

    For an example at random; as far as we can tell from the BOE “budget”, there are ten (it could be 11 or 12 depending upon how you read the document) Assistant Principals in the Stratford school system. The one with the least pay ($106,000/year) makes more than the mayor, the police chief, the fire chief, the Public Works Director or the EMS director. And there are 9 of them that make far more than that. We haven’t even discussed principals or administrators.

    So when we talked about overpaid positions such as Registrar of Voters or something called “Legislative and Constituent Liaison” we must remember that there is a whole Middle Kingdom that remains pretty much a secret in this Town.

    And, oh by the way, to not present a budget to the taxpayers explaining how $97 million (or more?) of our money will be spent is astoundingly insulting.

  11. 11 1cyclops

    Why can’t the Mayor force them to produce a budget? If they do not publish one, delete the amount from the budget. I think they would produce one might fast if they were not going to be funded!

  12. 12 jezebel282

    Cyclops,

    The mayor has no authority at the BOE. It is the domain of the Superintendent and the apparently invisible elected BOE members who do not seem to care at all.


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