Letter: School personnel, pensions devouring town assets

To the Editor:

While it is encouraging to read our Board of Finance cut $884,000 out of the proposed Board of Education budget, to reduce that increase from 3.48% to 2.5%, as previously requested by the Finance Board, we taxpayers should still take a hard look at the serious budget increases spent by the Board of Ed each year. Administrative personnel and pensions are devouring what assets we taxpayers have. While our student population continues to decline, the schools’ employee head count continues to increase!

Last year’s schools budget passed by only 16 votes. We believe that if The Ridgefield Press had published the schools’ administrative salary figures the week prior to the budget vote, instead of the week following, the school budget would have been defeated. We have one school superintendent and one assistant superintendent; our high school has one principal and four assistant principals and four deans; the middle schools have two principals and two assistant principals; the elementary schools have six principals; also we have a personnel director and a special education supervisor. All of these positions pay well over the six-figures range. We see no reduction in school personnel, even though our student population has been declining for years.

In August 2016, The Press reported Superintendent Baldwin had 40 new personnel coming into the school system, 20 of whom were just for the high school! At a September 2016 school board meeting, Superintendent Baldwin reported the district had to hire eight new paraprofessionals and a teacher for the hearing impaired, resulting in a cost of $175,000. The hiring seems to be unending and we feel the only way to influence some control is to further reduce the proposed Board of Ed budget for the coming year. We shall vote “No” to this budget as currently presented.

Raymond L. Sementini and Catherine A. Sementini

Old Wagon Road, April 24