We have noticed misinformation circulating in Wilton recently with regard to the Board of Education’s budget and its oversight by the Board of Finance. As a public service to Wilton residents who take an interest in Wilton’s finances and our schools, we think you may find it helpful to learn the facts of the situation.
A school PTA email and Facebook posts on town pages have suggested that the Board of Finance has recommended a decrease in the Board of Education budget. This is not true. Rather, the Board of Finance has recommended a slight reduction in the Board of Education’s proposed increase in the budget. This reduction is $485,000, out of a total Board of Education budget of $87 million. Even taking into account this reduction, the BoE budget is still increasing by 2.2% in total (approximately $2 million) and by more than 3% per pupil.
These misleading communications have also argued that “cuts will need to be made” in specific areas like math and special ed. This is true only if the Board of Education chooses to reduce spending in those areas. The Board of Finance has absolutely no control over the Board of Education’s line items. While the Board of Finance determines the total education budget, it is the Board of Education, with guidance from the superintendent of schools, that has complete control over individual line items. The superintendent has specifically targeted several line items for reduced increases (NOT decreases) based on the total budget approved by the Board of Finance. Instead of following the superintendent’s specific suggestions (which include eliminating a proposed hire of a new math specialist), the Board of Education could consider many other line items for reductions in its spending increases.
Some that come to mind are the $1,400,000 in the budget for teachers’ coaches, the nearly $750,000 for ‘climate coordinators’, or administrative expenses. As a backdrop to these possible choices, since the 2018-2019 school year, school and district administrative expenses have increased by over 15%, at the same time that the student population has declined by more than 6%!
Lastly, because meeting special education needs is a federal mandate that our schools must follow, spending tied to an students with IEPs will not be reduced, nor has anyone advocated for it to be reduced. Any claim otherwise is inaccurate.
We hope that knowing these facts will help you make your own informed assessment of the proposals for Wilton’s new annual budget. If you would like to submit comments to the BOF or the BOE, there are two ways to make your voice heard before the Board of Finance finalizes the Board of Education budget on Tuesday April 12.