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Superintendent Presents Possible Budget Cut Scenario

Staff member and parent voice concern about what a $380,000 budget reduction from its proposal means for Avon Public Schools.

Historically, when voters reject a budget at referendum, the Board of Finance tends to reduce the proposed figure even more.

face $380,000 in spending reductions from its $50.8 million gross request – $267,000 after the Board of Finance workshop in mid-April and $113,800 in unanticipated expenditures. That includes out-of-district placement ($85,000), a special education paraeducator ($14,000), Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement (CABE) membership and policy service ($9,800) and an Open Choice specialist ($5,000).

Members of Coalition of Citizens for Avon (CC4A) are considering whether the group should encourage people vote no because they think the budget is too low, parent and organization member Mitchell Piper told the board at its Tuesday night meeting.

To Vote Yes or No for the Budget?

Piper said that the logic behind a no vote is the hope that the finance board would consider raising the for the next referendum upon further review. The concept is raw and CC4A's position is not set in stone.

"There are dangers with that," Piper said the group recognizes.

Piper said he took "at his word that he proposed a budget that’s meat and potatoes," but asked why the board didn't request a higher budget, knowing that the finance board would likely make cuts.

“I would not expect him to pad a budget," William Stokesbury, board vice chairman said. "We’re all disappointed by the Board of Finance [reductions], but I can’t endorse any campaign to vote no. I think that that would be disastrous for our budget."

Budget Reduction Scenario

Mala said that he stands by his original budget as proposed – and as the school board approved – but he has presented a preliminary budget reduction scenario to address the required reductions. He said that it is not intended as a "red flag."

“This is still an option. I’m not presenting this as a final reduction scenario," Mala said. "I'm not an alarmist."

Mala included $10,000 in his initial proposal to so parents wouldn't need to pay graduation fees and $25,000 in budget contingency, but his preliminary reduction scenario eliminates both of those.

The scenario includes the reorganization of the Valley Alternative Academy after school program, possibly moving it to the daytime, and a $20,000 reduction to this line item. The program was started 14 years ago to help Farmington Valley students at risk of dropping out of high school, according to Jane Ellen Peregrin, Avon resident and director of counseling at .

Peregrin said she's worried about how such changes could affect the students enrolled.

“Because it’s small, teachers tell me the kids take risks that they wouldn’t take during the day," Peregrin said. "My concern is meeting the needs of all those kids."

Mala stressed that he has not intention of eliminating the program.

Other Preliminary Budget Reduction Suggestions

Other cuts included in the scenario are as follows:

  • $5,000 reduction in uniform replacement line item.
  • $3,000 less to pay for police service at graduation.
  • $3,500 less for PowerSchool training.
  • $27,000 reduction in Electronic Music Lab instructional equipment at .
  • $2,731 reduction for iPad supplies at Avon Middle School.
  • $20,500 reduction to Avon Middle School materials line item.
  • $7,500 reduction for Harcourt Consummables line item.
  • $2,659 reduction for risers at Pine Grove School.
  • $2,700 reduction in computer software for .
  • $5,157 less for instructional equipment at Roaring Brook.
  • $2,000 less for Empowering Writers Training line item.
  • $1,224 less for summer curriculum work at Roaring Brook School
  • $7,500 reduction for Aimswebb Software line item.
  • $17,000 less for equipment and hardware line item.
  • $5,000 reduction for support service at Thompson Brook.
  • $25,000 reduction to the post-retirement benefits line item.
  • $33,400 less for instructional supplies.
  • $10,000 less for overtime line item.
  • $40,000 reduction for transportation contract adjustment.
  • $25,000 less for building repairs.
  • $20,000 less for custodial supplies.
  • $40,000 less for the medical claims line item.
  • $6,000 less for Webmaster support.
  • $14,000 less to pay for an ELL tutor to teach English as a second language; this would then possibly be funded by a Title 3 grant instead.

The Board of Education does not typically make an official decision on necessary reductions until a budget is approved.

Do you support the school budget? What is most important to you in Avon Public Schools and what are your hopes for the budget?

Editor's Note: If there's something in this article that you think should be corrected, contact Avon Patch Editor Jessie Sawyer at 860-356-6339 or Jessie.Sawyer@patch.com. Join in on the Avon Patch conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AvonPatch) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/AvonPatch). You can also add your own announcements and events or apply to blog on Patch. To get daily Avon Patch updates in your email inbox, sign up for our newsletter.

Adam April 25, 2012 at 12:44 PM
The budge is "too low"? LOL. I've never observed a government spend too little. Every incentive is to spend too much to curry favor with voters at the expense of someone else, especially in this State.
Sarah Calatayud April 25, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Adam, educate yourself on the specifics of this situation before making blanket anti-spending remarks, please. You obviously have not done your homework.
Shakir salmani April 25, 2012 at 05:14 PM
What is the munthly fee in your school
Adam April 25, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Sarah: I educate my children for pennies on the dollar for what the school districts spend per pupil. I see no appreciable improvement in graduation rates or SAT performance traceable to the annual increases afford to the schools, its administration and staff. The burden is on the school, not the taxpayer, to explain why it deserves the money it receives. For example, I see students equipped with iPads and snappy explanations from the schools how this improves the educational "experience". Show me how this new expenditure improves basic metrics. Show me why less expensive alternatives are not superior choices. Please explain.
Adam April 25, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I have, thanks. You next: http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=7636
Roy April 25, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Adam appears to believe that money makes little difference in education. All studies of similar high-performing schools confirm that enrichment is what differentiates performance. Sure, our kids can read and write. But what will turn them into our future leaders is creativity and enriched experiences. Adam may be frugal but very shortsighted. I suggest Adam go visit Simsbury HS or Stuyvesant HS in NY. He will immediately see what high tech labs and elective courses can do to make a school great. Avon has a long way to go to greatness and Adam is an example of what's holding us back.
Adam April 26, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Roy: You appear to be equating performance with budget dollars. You mention "high tech labs" and such. More gadgets and gismos is justified if it corresponds to more and better chemists. As I mentioned to Sarah above, funding is measured by performance. Detroit and Washington DC outpace Avon in per pupil spending, but drop out rates are much higher. A lot of factors influence student performance. While funding to afford excellent teachers is one factor, but so is IQ/heredity, family history of college attendance, cultural emphasis on education, familial composition, the parent's committment to the chld's success, learning disabilities, etc. Real, overall, per-pupil spending rose from $5,593 in 1970 to $12,463 in 2006, and today we beat almost every other industrialized nation in education funding. Yet, since the early 1970s, scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have been utterly stagnant for 17-year-olds.In 1973 the average math score was 304 (out of 500). In 2008 it was just 306. In reading, the 1971 average was 285. In 2008 it was up a single point, hitting 286. You mentioned "enrichment". I believe students should be afforded the choice in learning environments that provide this enrichment. I think we owe our children the choice in education, even if they live in Hartford. Let responsible parents, who know the child best, make the decision. Such choice evaporates when the district confiscates it for itself.

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