Superintendent Reveals Cut List

With the state budget in tatters — and towns now on the hook for things like teacher pensions — superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer presented a $977,000 cut list to the Board of Education last night.

Board members listened to and considered each of the “mitigation strategies” offered. No action was taken.

The Board of Education determines the exact list of reductions. The next step after that is the Board of Finance.

The biggest suggested change ($170,000) comes from health insurance, as a result of reduced staff.

In addition, $100,000 comes from the cafeteria fund reimbursement for operating expenses, and $98,141 from deferring the hiring of the director of secondary education for one year. Other large cuts include a middle school literacy coach and curriculum resources ($66,000) each; not funding an “innovation fund” ($50,000).

Palmer has identified 39 items overall for deferral or elimination. They include personnel like a part-time psychologist, paraprofessionals, 2 Staples grade level assistants, and secretarial help in the district. Also listed: the Staples athletic budget, maintenance, and supply items like Long Lots bathroom renovation, Kings Highway art stools, and Staples library and computer chairs.

To view all the recommended changes to the proposed education budget, click here.

26 responses to “Superintendent Reveals Cut List

  1. Regarding the “major” cuts the BOE is presenting, it is still short of the $1.674M the BOF asked for. While the cuts described are all troubling, others were not mentioned, i.e. the commercial treadmill for CMS or the ergonomic ball chairs or courtyard tables for SHS, oh, and heaven forbid they do without a new $20,000 snow machine. Yes the State is in shambles and the pain runs downhill…..but when do we draw the line and say no? When do we demand fiscal responsibility at ALL levels, especially at the State level? Just keep filling the coffers for the wasteful politicians to spend, spend, spend and get their pet projects paid for. Anyone still wondering why our new President won? This is why….I am sick of it. Tell the BOF to hold the line on their requested cuts and let’s push back on Hartford and our supposed “representatives” there. Oh, wait, never mind, let’s just build casinos, legalize marijuana and install tolls back on I95. Yeah, that’ll solve the problem, the human cost of all that? Forget it….not important.

    • You are SO RIGHT!
      These parasites continue to spend money they do not have and expect the taxpayer to keep filling up the empty coffers!
      Total fiscal irresponsibility!

  2. Bart Shuldman

    The financial issues in our state continue.

    US census data regarding state population was released a few months back and Connecticut residential population dropped by 8,301 from 2015 to 2016. There are now fewer Connecticut residents (taxpayers) to absorb the impact of the huge budget deficit coming in Connecticut’s next budget (2017-2019). Connecticut’s higher state fixed costs (debt, pensions, OPEB and Medicaid) will cause the budget deficit that could exceed $3.5 BILLION. You, the Westport taxpayer will be paying higher and higher taxes, while watching cuts in state funds to Westport for our schools.

    Unfortunately, Westport voters continued to elect Rep Jonathan Steinberg whose votes caused a lot of these issues. Instead of voting against budgets that did nothing to stop the fast growing state employee pension and medical costs, Rep Steinberg voted to raise taxes on us all, including raising taxes on seniors. Rep Steinberg also just voted to increase the state employee pension costs on CT tax payers by a whopping $11 BILLION!!Those are just the facts. And now as more businesses and people move out of CT, the state faces a fiscal crisis.

    With two previous massive Connecticut income state tax increases (2011 and 2015), Connecticut residents and businesses started to leave. Residential population (Connecticut individual taxpayers) has declined in Connecticut for 3 straight years. During the same 3 years, Massachusetts residential population grew along with Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Connecticut lost 8,301 residents from 2015-2016. The projected state income tax revenue is once again estimated to fall while Connecticut state expenditures will grow.

    Connecticut is in a financial death spiral with revenues declining and expenses growing faster and faster. The more the state raises taxes, the more business and people move out. The more people and businesses move out, the more Governor Malloy and the leadership in Hartford want to raise taxes to make up the shortfall.

  3. Jaime Bairaktaris

    I’m baffled by the $100 increase for the student parking permits.

  4. Michael Krein

    100 x 1500 = 30,000 hey maybe that is for the operator and the new snow machine???

  5. Michael Krein

    Just kidding..that is the kind of Washington DC math that we are getting in Connecticut and Westport!!!!

  6. Richard Fogel

    maybe if the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes we would all benefit. look at trump. This man has paid no federal income tax for years. There are people who live in town with Florida plates.

    • ugh…please stop. he won. get over it. 45% of Americans pay no federal income tax.
      maybe we should stop funding all the waste, bloated entitlement programs, snow machines, and treadmills, with our hard earned money. maybe the takers who outnumber the payers should start paying, or get some skin in the game. have them boot their vehicles until proof of residency shown. no offence intended

    • Bart Shuldman

      Richard–Trumps taxes have nothing to do with CT. However, as for the wealthy in CT, they pay more than their fair share of taxes. Less than 1% of the tax payers in CT are the very wealthy. They pay almost 20% of all the state income taxes collected. The top 5% earners in CT pay almost 35% of all the state income taxes collected.

      You and others who want to attack the wealthy are driving them to leave our wonderful state. When just 1 BILLIONAIRE leaves, it takes thousands of new jobs to be created to make up the loss of the billionaires state income taxes they pay. CT should be ‘hugging’ (sorry Mitchell’s) the wealthy and not force them to leave.

      In addition, Rep Steinberg voted to increase the death and estate taxes on our senior citizens. When the taxes went up, more seniors left our state. Senior Citizens are the lowest cost resident in CT, they don’t need schools or teachers. By driving them out of the state, we invite in ‘families of 4’ to replace them which drives CT’s and Westports costs much higher.

      Westport is finally starting to see the Fiscal ImpaCT of Governor Malloy’s decision not to address the rising state employee costs, and instead, with the help of our own Rep Steinberg, raise taxes. As taxes went up, business such as GE moved out of CT and state revenues cannot not keep up with rising expenses. As the wealthy leave, the same happens.

      Either CT start addressing the fiscal crisis, and Westport residents vote for someone who will help us, or we will continue to see our taxes go up and education spending cut (and potentially our homes prices drop)..

      • Right you are Bart. The wealthy pay more than their fair share of taxes and that has nothing to do with justifying the waste that continues by these educators who have no clue as to what it takes to make a living in the private sector. In the real world, people actually work 12 months a year and often full days and yes even weekends!! Maybe school teachers and their administrators should be paid hourly and then we will see some productivity for our tax dollars.

        • You’re kidding, right? That could be the most offensive thing I’ve read on here in a long time. Please tell me where your kids went to school.

        • Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

          To RC Rose,
          You have nom idea what you are talking about when you say teachers and administrators should be paid hourly. I am the daughter , daughter in law, sister in law, friend, mother and mother in law of educators. I’m also related to school administrators. My son and another teacher spent the summer writing a new math program that will qualify as a college level course in High School. They were not paid extra for their time. They grade papers, look for new teaching methods and keep up with current trends, all on their own time. Consider that a teacher often spends more waking hours with a child than the parents do. Consider that their job is to inform the next generation who will lead the country, be doctors, solve climate change, develop miracle drugs, be in the military, be doctors and nurses, parents themselves……. should I keep on? If you can read this thank a teacher. They are underpaid compared to other careers that require a college degree. They hold the future in their hands. I guess you got me a little hot under the collar!

        • Bart Shuldman

          RC-you should first apologize for your post as it is not only insulting but misleading and just ‘wrong’.

          The issue was the state budget is not a teacher productivity issue, as you are insinuating. Not close.

          The budget issue is simple–the state is offering a pension plan to state employees that the tax payers can no longer afford. We allow the use of overtime so that some state workers are retiring with $100K+ yearly pensions-some over $200K. We guarantee a cost of living increase to every pensioner of approximately 2.5%, and our pension funds are actually earning less. State workers on average put only 2% of their salaries towards their pensions, some pay NOTHING. The average in the US is 7%. And the Governor and people like Rep Steinberg refuse to force the state employee contracts to be opened and renegoatiated to stop the madness.

          In addition the state offers a medical plan to state employees that is choking the budget. Some employees pay nothing and nothing for medication. The medical plan costs, which are outrageous, is soaking up lots of the budget.

          In addition, the state budget is filled with special
          Programs that we can no longer afford. Should Governor Malloy spend $250 Million of our tax money to fix the Hartford Civic Center? Why? Should the Governor buy a property in the eastern shoreline to open a hotel? No. But he tried.

          Westport is finally facing the budget issues that has been building for a few years. GE moved out because they saw no future in CT and saw no hope with Governor Malloy and people like Rep Steinberg to have the guts to fix the budget. So now we face education cuts which is not good for our home values. We will experience higher property taxes to help balance a state budget that will remain in deficit for the next 5-7 years. Not good for our home values. And we will see the wealthy leave Ct as they give up on a state that just want to tax and tax them.

          Teachers are the life blood of this state and even more importantly-WESTPORT. By having some of the best schools in CT and the nation-people
          Decide to move to Westport over other towns. And our wonderful children get a fabulous education.

          RC-apologize for making what can only be described as a disgusting post.

          • No apology necessary!
            The education system and the pay scale of teachers in our town is not supposed to be a market booster for your home values. Wasting money on teachers who do not work a full day, full week, full year, is not fiscally responsible! Inflating market values for your homes is not the purpose of responsible budgeting. You all need to run the town and the state like a major corporation that needs to answer to its investors and shareholders and not just keeping going back to the taxpayers to continue to support your ill-advised spending habits. Fix the system and the budget will fall in line!

            • Do you live here? What is your relationship to Westport? Please provide off-line a way that I can verify you are a real person, and not a troll hiding behind anonymity.

      • Michael Turin

        The percentage of taxpayers who are “wealthy” is it relevant. The operable percentage is what percent of the total income accrues to these individuals. Only after knowing this can you determine if the percent of taxes paid by these individuals is out of line

  7. MC Rose, you are an undereducated fool and, perhaps, should live in a town where school teachers are paid little, impart little knowledge and graduate students who contribute little to society. There are many such places.
    Westport, though, hinges its real estate values in large part on an education system that strives for the highest quality and demands a great deal from both its student and its faculty.
    To say the faculty knows not what it takes to make a living the the private sector is to malign them on whom much of town’s reputation, ambience and grand list depend.

  8. Dan
    Since when did it become the function of the education system to guaranty high market values for your home investments? I thought a good education was the goal. Fancy new buildings and bigger and better snow blowers or higher teacher salaries and benefits do not make for a good education.
    Dedication and hard work for fair pay can do the same job. We should try that and stop throwing away money trying to get more money for your real estate investments.

  9. Joanne Schonberg

    It’s really unfortunate that paras are going to be cut. They directly impact the much needed support and help to both students and teachers. Also noteworthy is that they are completely underpaid for the services that they provide to the students.

  10. Bart Shuldman

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  11. Bart Shuldman

    Dan. While everyone has a right to voice their opinion, and I am one who does, every person should do so using their full name. This way they cannot hide behind nicknames or just letters and then post what some would consider offensive.

    Mr RC Rose should have a real first name and his last name should be Rose. Please insure he uses both.


    • Nancy Hunter

      Why police names?

    • I have asked “RC Rose” several times to provide that information off-line to me, privately. He has chosen not to. He is no longer permitted to post comments.

      Nancy, I “police” (I would prefer the verb “check”) names to make sure that all readers know who is saying what. “RC Rose” said some pretty obnoxious things about teachers. He should have the courage to stand behind those statements. For background, check this story out: We’ve come a long way since 2013.

  12. Sadly, this time of reconciliation was predictable. My family and I moved to Westport from out of state. We chose Westport because it had/has GREAT schools, the town is very nice, and many we met during our home buying process were very welcoming. Like all large organizations, I’m sure there are expenses with Westport’s school system that could be cut. No one wants to lose their “pet projects”, but we do have amazing schools so chopping too much would be a shame and it would hurt a key reason that attract young families to Westport. But cuts and not always saying “yes” to every new idea and related expense is our new norm. We live in CT.
    Bigger picture, CT suffers from too many years of one party control. Doesn’t matter if your are a Dem or a Rep (or an Independent like me), having one party run most of the State offices and legislature for so many years institutionalizes too much pork and too little citizen control. I’ve lived in six states and CT stands iout on this important dimension. CT is a small state and is losing population. Its policies are not attracting new businesses in meaningful numbers, and losing GE was primarily driven by taxes and little reason to stay besides history
    There will be more tough times ahead. Infrastructure improvements via more taxes will drive more people and businesses out of state. But we need new infrastructure. CT’s is TERRIBLE and you’d see that if you spent meaningful time in other parts of the country. The spiral will continue and the rest of the good people of CT will be left with more severe fiscal matters to deal with. The state needs to take an outsider view of its fiscal structure and yet, we are asking long term insiders to do it. Never going to happen.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Mark. Somehow the desire by the Governor and the democratic leaders to support 55,000 state workers over fixing the financial health of CT for 3,500,000 residents is crazy. Outright obscene.

      The budget deficits will not stop. The next 2 years is only the beginning. CT pension plans, medical plans and growth of debt will cause at least an additional $1 BILLION budget deficit for 4-7 years after we get thru the CURRENT massive $3.5 BILLION DEFICIT.

      CT’s financial death spiral is accelerating. If you want to learn more come join a Facebook Group called Fiscal ImpaCT.

  13. Yes, the sky is falling.