Letter: Why do we spend more than other school districts?

To the Editor:

I applaud the unanimous vote of the Board of Selectmen to recommend that the Board of Finance cap the Board of Education budget increase to 2.5%. In contrast, the school board has proposed a 4.23% increase, a budget increase of $3.92 million to reach $96.56 million for the upcoming year.  

Ridgefield schools, along with those in other school districts in our area, are ranked among the very best in Connecticut. And yet, Ridgefield holds the distinction of being the only school district among its peers which has not slowed the growth of spending over the last several years. All other school districts in our area including Darien, Wilton, and New Canaan have slowed the growth of spending with proposed school budget increases of 2.34%, 2.24%, and 2.45%, respectively, for the upcoming 2018-19 school year. Why can’t Ridgefield’s budget increase be comparable to those of its sister school districts?

A recent headline in New Canaan’s local newspaper may include appropriate counsel for the Ridgefield Board of Finance:

“‘It Will Not Be Easy and It Will Not Be Pleasant:’ Board of Finance Hears Passionate Calls for Fiscal Prudence …”

Therein lies the challenge: How can you, as the Board of Finance, fulfill this mandate while maintaining the quality of education that our community so desires? Adopt stringent fiscal strategies.

Such actions by neighboring towns has reduced annual growth in school budget spending from 3% to 4% in the 2014-15 fiscal year, to less than 2% in the 2017-18 period. Residents of Ridgefield deserve to have comparable fiscal prudence.

Robert A. Payne

Spring Valley Road, March 17