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School board opposes selectmen’s ‘authority’

The Board of Education last week unanimously approved sending a letter to the Charter Revision Commission, seeking less influence over its budget by the Board of Selectmen.

The board asked the commission to remove the Board of Selectmen’s annual “non-binding recommendation” on the education budgets and also spelled out the board’s opposition to the selectmen’s request to have “authority to set a budget and tax increase level.”

“To give the Board of Selectmen any say on the Board of Education’s needs is a significant conflict of interest because both boards are competing for a limited pool of tax dollars,” said the letter, signed by school board Chairman Austin Drukker. “That limit is set by the voters at referendum.

“Giving the Board of Selectmen the power to set the mill rate and limits on education budgets allows that board to take what they need from the tax pool and limit the school budget without concern for educational priorities or needs, and in fact, seeks to fundamentally change the town’s form of government.

“We request the Board of Selectmen non-binding review of the Board of Education budget be removed as it has been shown to be competitive, prejudicial and detrimental to the town as a whole.

“We therefore also strongly oppose any proposal to further broaden the Board of Selectmen’s power by giving it authority to set the town mill rate and the Board of Education budget.”

The commission will discuss the letter at its meeting Monday, Feb. 3.

The educators agreed Monday night that a representative or two should attend that meeting, although it is not a public hearing.

In the letter, the board said that since the non-binding recommendation was added to the charter several years ago, the selectmen have “violated the spirit of the mandate by publicly questioning individual line items in the budget, as opposed to commenting on the total number.”

The letter also states towns like Ridgefield that use a “town meeting form of government” do not give their Board of Selectmen any comment on the education budget.

“In fact, government in Connecticut was specifically set up to prevent conflict between town boards that need to utilize the same dollars in order to fund their needs,” the letter said.

The letter said: “Residents have a greater voice in the decision-making process over local issue.

“On the other hand, the state’s delegation of broad powers to towns sometimes results in bitter rivalries between towns stemming from projects and programs that encompass multiple towns.”

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  • -2

    What a strange twist. The BOS is controlled by the Democrats, and they want to limit spending. The BOE is controlled by Republicans, and they want to make sure their spending in not limited.

    Isn’t this kind of backwards?

  • common sense

    What a surprise that the BOE does not want anyone looking over their shoulders! They owe the town a full and comprehensive explanation on why they want assistant principals (don’t forget they expect declining enrollment), why they dont go in with the town on healthcare (town saved a lot by hard negotiation, BOE rolled over), and all the other money we pay for mediocre results!

  • Tom

    No matter how you cut it the town Government is controlled by TAX and spend people. If they are republicans on the School board they are liberal if they are republicans on THE BOS LIKEWISE. Plain and simple until the voters throw these people out they will always be in you pockets year after year.

  • rdg-oldtimer

    When it comes to $$$$, the BOE is akin to the fox guarding the hen house. I personally would like to see a BINDING review of the BOEs’ free wheeling spending habits. *******AD, when it comes down to a conflict of interest, the only time the BOE listens is when they realize that they can no longer “shout down” the money providers. ME

  • Tom

    Old Buddy that is true but the shouting has never stopped in the 60 years that i have been shouted at. by them. Simple they do not care they get elected and SCREW THE TAX PAYERS EVERY YEAR. Along with Rudy and the BOS . Time for an AUDIT. It is well overdue!!

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