The citizens group Fairfield for Good Government (FGG) would like to thank Superintendant of Schools David Title and Board of Education Chairman Philip Dwyer for addressing more than 60 Fairfield residents at its meeting at the Scandinavian Club Jan. 10.
It was the first opportunity for many attendees to hear Title speak about the town's school system and budget, including comments on staffing, the three-year cycle of contract negotiations, enrollment projections, the new math curriculum, mandates imposed by the state, and performance measurement. It was a wide-ranging and very informative discussion.
Title described himself as a fiscal conservative who directs his department heads every year "to build their budgets starting at zero." He described many ways in which he has been able to save money in Fairfield's school system in recent years, three examples being changes in start times at the high schools, purchasing guidelines and in food service.
Despite these and other savings, he said, higher enrollment and contractual increases in wages and benefits will drive the fiscal 2014 budget higher than the current one.
One attendee expressed the concern that Fairfield has an affordability problem, and suggested that because enrollment has not increased significantly, any increases in the budget (other than contracted costs) need to be justified.
Another citizen asked whether Title could provide a breakdown of the budget by course and program so that taxpayers can make better informed decisions about which services we want and can afford.
The mission of Fairfield for Good Government is simply to keep Fairfield affordable. Through meetings like the one with Title, FGG seeks to provide residents with a better understanding of how their tax dollars are being spent and an opportunity to express their views to our elected officials and department heads. In February, FGG plans to release a number of specific recommendations for reducing the town's education and town budgets can be reduced. In this and other ways, FGG looks forward to working with town leaders on the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting to keep Fairfield affordable.
Fairfield for Good Government welcomes comments and suggestions, particularly recommendations about other department heads, board or RTM members with whom you would like us to arrange future meetings. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fairfield for Good Government