Letter: Ridgefield has seen an enrollment decline, but an increase in staff
To the Editor:
The Board of Education is demanding a 3.48% budget increase on top of the 4.99% increase they received last year. They got to 3.48% even though it is over the new state-mandated limit of 2.5% by playing the special education card. The BoE loves to compare Ridgefield to the other towns in our reference group, known as the DRG. None of those towns used special education to manipulate the spending cap.
How does the BoE’s proposed increase stack up against some of those towns? The Wilton BoE is asking for a 0.0% increase, Redding is asking for minus 0.3%, Easton is at 1.1%, and New Canaan 1.6%.
How can they do it, but we cannot? Our BoE claims Redding and Wilton can do it because they have experienced greater declines in enrollment than Ridgefield. That would make sense — if it were true. However, it is not true. Since 2013, Redding has eliminated 10 teaching positions as enrollment declined by 142 students. During that same time frame, Ridgefield has seen an enrollment decline of 366 students, but an increase in the number of staff by 26.
Little information from the BoE is true, even if you can decipher it through the lingo.
The Board of Selectmen gave a non-binding recommendation of 2.5% to the Board of Finance. The BoF needs to treat the 2.5% as their starting point during their budget deliberations, which began after the budget public hearing that takes place on Monday, March 27, at 7:30 at East Ridge Middle School. Please try to attend. Your money is at stake.
Pond Road, March 20